Ian Frazier, our champ in the nearly empty field of "Humorist, Brainy Division," offers up another collection of short pieces. Though not quite the equal of 1986's splendid Dating Your Mom, Coyote V. ACME still leaves almost any other funny book far, far behind. There are occasionally empty sections, but Coyote V. ACME hits more than it misses.
Frazier's talent is like that of a master safecracker: he never leaves any fingerprints. He recreates the tone and tics of a commonplace document--a letter from a bank President, or a legal brief--but ever so slyly lets flickers of absurdity emerge and build. Here's evidence of his style, from the title piece:
"In addition to reducing all Mr. Coyote's careful preparations to naught, the premature detonation of Defendant's product resulted in the following disfigurements to Mr. Coyote:
1. Severe singeing of the hair on the head, neck, and muzzle.
2. Sooty discoloration.
3. Fracture of the left ear at the stem, causing the ear to dangle in the aftershock with a creaking noise."
As with most written humor, the closer you pay attention, the more Frazier's pieces yield. So settle in, and read Coyote V. ACME carefully--you won't be disappointed. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Frazier's deadpan comic voice was once a staple for New Yorker readers. Two previous book collections resulted: Dating Your Mom (1986), an assembly of very short pieces, and Nobody Better, Better Than Nobody (1987), featuring longer essays and profiles of odd denizens of American culture, a much superior showcase for the author's prodigious narrative and journalistic skills. These later came into full flower in his acclaimed travel volume, Great Plains (1989), and in last year's moving Frazier genealogy, Family. This latest collection, much of it also from the New Yorker, harks back to Mom?short, arch, cynical takes on some of the idiocies of American life: letters from banks crowing about their human services; the habit of highbrow reviewers of insisting that impersonal entities ("Language," "Dublin") in a play or a film are in fact "characters." As usual, Frazier is awfully good, smart and wicked at the same time. "Boswell's Don Johnson," for example, is a hilarious ditty written after the style of the famous biographer, but in this case he is engaged in hagiography of the star of Miami Vice. The title essay, with its exposition, in deadly legalese, of one Wile E. Coyote's complaints against a generic purveyor of explosive devices, shows Frazier's great comic range, however trite the subject. Although this book is not Frazier at full-bore, readers of his generation will find an occasional cultural reference long thought lost, and find themselves oddly beholden to a fellow who can resurrect Billy Joe McCallister from beneath the Tallahatchie Bridge.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
I was a little disappointed at first that the actual Coyote V. Acme was only a small part of the book. However, the other essays were well worth reading. Read morePublished 11 months ago by KFlo
What a rip off! There is one funny story in it, about Bob Hope, so I gave it two whole stars.Published 12 months ago by T. Riehl
But still good. This is entertaining, but I was expecting more material on Coyote vs Acme, not just one "Filing" if you will. Read morePublished 15 months ago by runningiron
There were a few interesting/funny articles in here, but most were just plain bizarre. It's not something I'd read again.Published 18 months ago by Gina Kilgour
If I'd been browsing in a real live bookstore I'd've glanced at this, leafed through it and moved on to the next offering on the remainder table. Read morePublished 18 months ago by John Hutchinson
As most of the reviewers note, the title article is the best, and the only one I laughed out loud (for an embarrassingly long time) at, but he takes his creativity to places most... Read morePublished 20 months ago by T. ORourke
Similar to "Lamentations..." this seemed to be the words form an author trying desperately to be witty. Read morePublished on July 30, 2013 by jim kvedaras
Ian Frazier is one funny guy. His "Shouts and Murmurs" column in the New Yorker is consistantly humorous. But he hit his stride with "Coyote V. Read morePublished on January 31, 2013 by Jack Shakely