Of all the literary genres, humor has the shortest shelf life--except for Archy and Mehitabel, that is. First published in 1916, it is a classic of American literature. Archy is a cockroach, inside whom resides the soul of a free-verse poet; he communicates with Don Marquis by leaping upon the keys of the columnist's typewriter. In poems of varying length, Archy pithily describes his wee world, the main fixture of which is Mehitabel, a devil-may-care alley cat.
Archy music will linger in your head long after you finish the book. Here's a tiny taste from his interview with a mummy:
my regal leatherface says i
little scatter footed
Writers (particularly journalists) can go lifetimes without attaining such loose-limbed grace. And the illustrations by George Herriman ("Krazy Kat") provide the perfect counterpoint. On top of all that, Marquis did the impossible: he made a cockroach loveable.
Collection of humorous stories by Don Marquis, originally published from 1916 in Marquis's newspaper columns "The Sun Dial" in the New York Evening Sun and "The Lantern" in the New York Herald Tribune and published in book form in 1927. The stories center on Archy, a philosophical cockroach who types messages to the author in lowercase letters (being unable to activate the shift mechanism), and Mehitabel, a free-spirited alley cat whose motto is "toujours gai." After initial publication, the work and its sequels were usually published without capital letters. Archy and Mehitabel consists mostly of free-verse poems on such concerns of Archy's as transmigration of souls, social injustice, life in New York City, and death. Sequels included Archys Life of Mehitabel (1933) and Archy Does His Part (1935), both of which were included in the lives and times of archy and mehitabel (1940; illustrated by George Herriman), a posthumously published compendium of the previous books. -- The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature