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Ant Farm: And Other Desperate Situations Paperback – April 3, 2007


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 162 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks (April 3, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400065887
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400065882
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.4 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #57,254 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A contributor to Mad, 22-year-old Rich is a Harvard senior, a former president of the Harvard Lampoon and the son of New York Times columnist Frank Rich. Half of the short humor pieces collected here previously appeared in the Harvard Lampoon, and Rich has taken his college collage and mixed it with new material for a satirical salmagundi that bites back. Since brevity is the soul of wit, the book has 57 varieties of playlets, essays and mirthful monologues, and most are only two pages long. Imaginative premises abound, such as X Files with dog characters. In the title piece, ants plot an escape: "We've been digging tunnels ever since we got here. We always end up hitting glass." Since a college-level audience is targeted, older readers might find some references puzzling. In his original proposal to Random House (a portion of which was printed in the New York Observer), he claimed that the "subject matter—horrible, inescapable doom—is well-suited for a younger audience.... I think kids will be attracted to the book's unpredictability. The tone remains constant throughout, but the topic changes every page with the abruptness of an iPod shuffle." True, these fragments are fun, and some are so abrupt they could have been iPhoned in. Others are as unpredictable as YouTube, as in your face as MySpace (which will both surely be used for online promotions). (Apr. 3)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

In this collection of comic vignettes, Rich, a Harvard senior and former president of the I^ Harvard Lampoon, displays a knack for extracting humor from scenarios of discomfort and despair. There's the son who unwittingly exposes his single mother's promiscuity, the nerd who becomes cool in the eyes of his Bulgarian pen pal, and the factory employee who goes a little nuts on the job. Performance anxiety among pandas, small talk gone wrong, the validity of "love coupons" when a relationship goes bad--all are covered here. Readers also learn about unlikely applications of math. (Who knew solving a trigonometry problem could mitigate a murderer's wrath?) And on the liabilities of being invisible, Rich writes: "When I was a lifeguard, I never got any credit for any of my heroic rescues. It was always 'angel this' and 'angel that.'" Some of the selections are more dark than droll (a boy's discovery of his father's alcohol cache, the text message of a teenager with hepatitis C), but all have the same good-natured goal: finding levity amid the gravity of everyday life. Allison Block
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

Definitely a good humor read, especially the title story.
Bauer
Not very funny...could have done so much more with the concept in each little story.
Wilson G. Dobson
I don't usually give five stars to well anything, but this book deserves it.
MD

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By gonzobrarian on October 24, 2008
Format: Paperback
That pretty much sums up this snarky, cynical and humorous collection of speculations and observations from Simon Rich. It's a collection that presents a more youthful, upbeat resignation echoing the more reposed one found in the writing of David Sedaris. Ant Farm is full of nostalgic recollections and weird possibilities concerning the irrelevancies of those desperate situations that give us awkward moments of reflection.

Moments that involve realizing the agony spent before receiving one's first calculator, the ironic closed-mindedness when experimenting with a ouija board, making candy with a forgetful someone named Peanut Al, keeping close tabs on your daily karma tally, God's overwhelming support for Orel Hershiser, and the three things you really don't need if stranded on a desert island.

Ant Farm is an incredibly fast and funny read. The selections are brief and varied, maybe a little too much so, as each consists no more than a couple of pages and is unbounded by coherent theme other than pure whimsy. But it does create that weird momentary pause, raising the question whether there is anything more absurd than us humans and our behavior.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jay on August 1, 2007
Format: Paperback
I love Simon Rich's sense of humor. His imaginings of what a situation would be like (What a conversation between God and the man who stands with a cardboard sign informing the public the end is near, for example, or what his mother believes runs through his mind when he is home alone at age 15) are just brilliant. Not all the entries are great, but the gems make up for the others. I loved sharing this with my family and friends, and despite age, gender, and frankly taste difference, they all found something to love in ANT FARM. The book goes fast, but you can revisit it again and again. It is well worth buying.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Bucherwurm on August 28, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
These stories are very very short which is good. If they were any longer they might well result in emotional damage to the reader. Mr. Rich's imagination takes us where few have gone before.

I mean what would you do if an angry murderer threatened you with death if you didn't come up with the correct answer to a trigonometry problem (sin2x=2cosinxsinx)? Have you ever thought how difficult it would be to wage war using Swiss army knives? Is it really true that God intervenes to help Orel Hershiser pitch his way to victory? Is it a fact that scientist Stephen Hawking is really a time traveler? Is it possible for ants to dig to freedom from a glass walled ant farm?

Do these story topics pique your interest? If so cough up 10 bucks and buy the book. If they leave you cold, well, hey spend the money on a six pack, and have fun that way.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Gary Lucy on April 22, 2007
Format: Paperback
And I'm not just saying that as an Emmy-winning 40-yr-old comedy writer in Hollywood trying to suck up to a young guy who will be running this place in about six months (how do you do sir?)...Ant Farm is a delightful bruschetta of absurdity served on crackers of keen insight.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By William Whyte on December 29, 2008
Format: Paperback
This is a short and very funny book, lent to me by the estimable Dr. ASK in order to prove a philosophical point about what books you should keep (answer: this one) and what ones you should get rid of (answer: the others). It's a series of two- and three-page sketches, some of which you may already know from the New Yorker such as this one:

A Conversation at the Grownup Table, as Imagined at the Kids' Table

MOM: Pass the wine, please. I want to become crazy.
DAD: O.K.
GRANDMOTHER: Did you see the politics? It made me angry.
DAD: Me, too. When it was over, I had sex.
UNCLE: I'm having sex right now.
DAD: We all are.
MOM: Let's talk about which kid I like the best.
...

The guy is 24 and very funny. This makes me happy and jealous. He also posts excerpts from his new book on CollegeHumor.com, if you want to be made happy and jealous too.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By H. Winslow on November 20, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Perfect little book if you are in a hurry and enjoy laughing out loud. Drinking chocolate milk while reading guarantees a mess.
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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Dennis Littrell HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 27, 2007
Format: Paperback
In the interest of total objectivity I attached myself to the Universal Laugh-O-Meter (available from the Harvard Lampoon for more money than you've got) as I read this. But first I had to calibrate the meter. I showed myself the clip of George W. Bush strutting across an aircraft carrier with the banner "Mission Accomplished" overhead wearing the cod piece and carrying the helmet under his arm, looking like he just got back from a swell bombing mission over Baghdad.

Laugh-O-Meter: 10! Very funny!

I watched a clip of Bill Clinton solemnly weighing the meaning of certain words before coming up with "That depends on what the meaning of 'is' is."

Laugh-O-Meter 9! Very funny, but not quite hilarious.

Then I watched some old "Laugh In" skits...

Laugh-O-Meter 3 to 4. Moderately unfunny!

...some early Saturday Night Live...

Laugh-O-Meter 7. Funny for sure!

...and finally I studied shots of Alberto Gonzalez pondering...pondering...not recalling...not recalling...lying under oath...furling his brow...pondering...not recalling...

Laugh-O-Meter 6.5. Just plain funny!

So armed, I started reading Simon Rich's book. Wow. There's a lot of air in the book, two nearly blank pages every chapter break, plenty of spacing between lines, etc., and even so the book's only 139 pages long. I was done in twenty minutes! I got a print out of the Laugh-O-Meter's ratings.
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