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The 2,548 Best Things Anybody Ever Said Paperback – January 14, 2003
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About the Author
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
The quotes you hold in your hand first saw the light of day as four separate collections of 637 each. Five years ago, the four appeared as an anthology of the 2,548 best things anybody ever said with four introductions and four indexes of sources, authors, and key words. If you were looking for something on a particular subject or by a favorite wag, if you were trying to track down a half-remembered line, you had four places to look. In this new edition, the introductions and ref-
erence lists have been combined into one and the quotes are numbered from 1 to 2,548, not four times from 1 to 637. The streamlining will enable many readers, writers, and speakers to more easily feign a sense of humor where none exists.
Why 2,548 quotes instead of, say, 2,547? I didn't want to leave a good one out. Why not 2,549? I didn't want any padding. The goal was simply to compile the best (funniest) things ever said (or written), zingers that can be used in everyday life without the odor of pomposity. Look elsewhere for rosy words of uplift or inspiration, unless you are uplifted and inspired by lines more appropriate for performers than pontificators. A serious attempt was made to eliminate the chaff and retain only the wheat, which is to say that you should be able to open the book to any page and be glad you did.
Many of the quotes are clustered by subject, but the subjects aren't ordered according to the alphabet. It struck me as logical, for example, to follow remarks about Love with those about Sex, Wedlock, Self-Abuse, Kids, Drink, and Death, in that order. In most books of this kind, Sex is followed by such unrelated topics as Shakespeare, Sickness, and Socialism and there is no category for Self-Abuse at all.
I feel bad about most of the quotes attributed to celebrities, for in almost every case, I'm willing to bet, the wit was supplied by a publicist or gagwriter. As a rule, celebrities aren't funny without help. Many non-celebrities are funny, though, at least once in a while, which is why there are so many lines in these pages from unknowns who took the time to send me contributions. One is a man who calls himself Strange de Jim. Should he appear in the Index of Authors under Strange or de? Then there is Hal Lee Luyah, who appears five times. Is that a pseudonym or did his parents call him that to have something to shout on Easter Sunday?
I quote myself a few times, too, which comes under the heading Abuse of Editorial Privilege. I apologize for that and other character flaws.
A word about the antique line cuts, since nobody asked. They are taken from several dozen collections, most of them published by Dover, totaling around 15,000 images. It's not easy matching up a drawing with a quote. Imagine my joy when I found the perfect one for Number 424, Nietzsche's observation that "only sick music makes money today."
Have fun. I did.
Copyright © 2003 by Simon & Schuster, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
- a fair number of the "best things anyone's ever said" were apparently said by Robert Byrne himself. Hmm...
- Where Byrne doesn't like the quote he just changes it, Oscar Wilde in particular gets mangled
- I can't prove it, but I'm sure some of these quotes are just made up: one from Andrew Mellon in particular rings false
- Sometimes he gives the source of the quote, sometimes he can't be bothered
- Michael Douglas is "Michael Douglas, actor and producer", all the other yahoos you've never heard of remain just a bunch of names
Anyway - there are 2 types of readers out there: those that find Byrne's roguishness charming, and those that don't. I'm sort of in the former group, as is Byrne himself.
I will have to say that it contains lots of quotes that I have not seen anywhere else and it is an enjoyable read. Each of the four books is organized into logical sections and related quotes in each section.
When you have ten minutes of time to kill it is easy to pick up and read a few passages and then put it down. It is an interesting read and is well worth the price even with the repeats.
Perhaps a better title for this extremely entertaining quote book is "The 2,548 Best Things Anybody Ever Said When They Were In A Really Cynical Mood." By limiting himself to the acerbic, Robert Byrne has created a most unusual quote book. Unlike most qoute books, this is not a reference book, but rather a book to be read for pleasure.
All in all, superb bathroom reading.
But these are quibbles. For about a half-cent per quote this is a good deal. There's something fun on every page, and the organizational approach of allowing one topic to flow into another related topic allows this to flow much better than other similar books (an index still lets you find particular quotes on demand).
If you enjoy this, Laurence Peter's Quotation collection is a somewhat higher quality work with the same sort of attitude.
And, as a bonus, the author adds in some interesting pictures which I really enjoyed.
I generally judge quotation books on the basis of the number of Shakespeare quotations compared to those by H.L.Mencken. A preponderance of the former means that the book is primarily literary, whereas a preponderance of the latter denotes a tendency for more modern (and cynical) quotations. For the record, this book contains only three by Shakespeare and 27 by Mencken. It also contains 37 by Woody Allen, 18 by Will Rodgers, 12 by Joan Rivers, 11 by Rodney Dangerfield and 20 by Johnny Carson. Clearly, this is more of a humor book than one of literary quotations. (There are also 10 by Ralph Waldo Emerson, 7 by Samuel Johnson, 15 by Friedrich Nietzsche and 20 by George Bernard Shaw, so there is also a somewhat more serious side to some of the selections.)
Unfortunately, the quotations are not, in my opinion, sufficiently documented. There are a large number quotations just referenced as Unknown and many taken from graffiti. Where documentation is given, it is provided at the back of the book, instead being provided in the body of the book, and most of these references just point to the book of quotations from which the selection was taken. Thus, if you want to determine the exact source of the quotation you need another book. The author should have at least copied the exact source of the quotation when he took the quote itself. As it is, all you get in the text for deceased authors is a birth and death year, but not even a birth year is given for living authors. There are some previously un-referenced quotations, for which more documentation is provided, but these are in a minority.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book is nothing short of fantastic. I'm always quoting from it. Many people think I'm a clever dog, but I'm just using this book. So VERY cool!Published 1 month ago by Loring V Glover
I have a very large library. This is the book I return to time and again when I'm just looking for entertainment. Terrific!Published 3 months ago by Luv 2 read
One of the best quote books out there. I've given it as a gift many times.Published 6 months ago by D. O. Monfort
Lots of clever stuff! We can only read a few pages at a time, or at least we get the best effect and retention that way.Published 7 months ago by T. Ervin
Bought this as a gift, I already had a copy. Best bathroom book ever! Very funny. When I finish the last page, I just start at the first page again, and enjoy it just as much... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Mark C
This book has many interesting quirky quotes along with deep thoughts. It was interesting the abundant references to God and gods. Read morePublished 10 months ago by D. Landerman