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Barefoot Boy With Cheek

8 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0404152963
ISBN-10: 0404152961
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 207 pages
  • Publisher: Ams Pr Inc (June 1978)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0404152961
  • ISBN-13: 978-0404152963
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.5 x 7.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,932,672 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Richard C. Hanson on June 12, 2003
Format: Hardcover
When I was in high school I was a big fan of the writer Max Shulman. He published "Barefoot Boy With Cheek" in 1943 when he was in his early twenties, a new graduate of the University of Minnesota. ("The University of Minnesota is, of coure, wholly imaginary.") There he had earned a reputation as the editor of "Ski-U-Mah," the campus humor magazine. He published a half dozen novels, two of which became musical comedies on Broadway, while two others became television series and movies. He is probably best known for "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis," which became a successful TV series, and "The Tender Trap," a movie starring Debbie Reynolds.
I recently came across a well-worn copy of "Barefoot Boy---" in a used-book store and read it again. It's an outrageous satire of college life, a story of the hilarious freshman year of Asa Hearthrug at the (imaginary) University of Minnesota.
"St. Paul and Minneapolis extend from the Mississippi River like the legs on a pair of trousers. Where they join is the University of Minnesota."
Asa is promptly registered into a liberal arts program in order to become a "well rounded-out personality," and is then recruited into the Alpha Cholera fraternity, where he emotionally joins in singing the frat song:
"Stand, good men, take off your hat
To Alpha Cholera, our swell frat.
In our midst you'll find no rat,
And don't let anyone tell you that."
He soon meets Yetta Samovar, and is promptly recruited into the Minnesota Chapter of the Subversive Elements League, where he emotionally joins in singing:
"Workers, workers,
Don't be shirkers,
There's a job we have to do.
Flee your prison,
Is the thing for you to do.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 6, 1998
Format: Hardcover
At the suggestion of my father, who read the book while in the AirCorp in WWII, I decided to read this book. I believe it to be one of the funniest books I have ever read! It is a timeless classic about a small town boy and his transition into college life. It covers all the problems that freshman face: going to see an advisor for suggestions on classes, the courses themselves, the attempt to make friends, the different type of people one meets on a university campus, and the homesickness one feels for their family and an old love. This book is a well written comedy that you will not be able to put down!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Dan Witte on December 28, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a satirical look at college life in the early 1940s, written in 1943 by Max Shulman, a popular humorist from that era. The story's narrator and protagonist is Asa Hearthrug, an appealingly naïve country bumpkin who is off to his freshman year at the University of Minnesota, which Shulman - in one of the book's funniest passages - identifies as a "wholly imaginary" institution in the book's foreword. From there the book progresses as a kind of comedy of errors, all of which serve to introduce characters with improbable names that were undoubtedly funny and/or subversive at the time (Noblesse Oblige, Shylock Fiscal, Eino Ffliikkiinnenn), and situations that almost certainly reflected the cultural mileposts of the era.

Satire (as opposed to straight comedy) almost never ages well, because it depends so heavily on the current events it strives to skewer. As a result contemporary readers generally miss the nuances of narration and dialogue meant to reflect events and speech patterns of the time. That is definitely the case with this book, which is naturally heavy with slang, phraseology and pop culture references that lost their relevance long ago. Having said that, Max Shulman was clearly a gifted comic writer, and with this book he left us with some brilliant and timeless humor. While I've read a lot of supposedly humorous literature, the only material that really resonates and stays with me are the books that create truly memorable characters (think "Confederacy of Dunces" and "Tomcat In Love") or whose wordplay can charm and challenge me while making me laugh out loud (think "Catch 22" and "The Sot-Weed Factor"). I would put this book into the latter category, though by no means on the same literary scale.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Yankee Dog on January 15, 2014
Format: Unknown Binding
I read this book as a 13-year old in 1944, recovering from a serious accident to my left hand, which required over 100
stitches - (I almost bled to death). A relative brought me the book to cheer me up while recovering in the hospital. While
reading the book I laughed so long and hard that I almost tore some of my stitches ! It remains to this day the funniest
book I've ever read ! I highly recommend it to everyone who needs a good laugh.
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