Ian Frazier collects some of his funniest essays from The New Yorker and The Atlantic Monthlyin Coyote v. Acme. Setting the tone is the title piece, consisting of the legal brief filed on behalf of the hapless character who has been irreparably harmed by manufacturer's negligence while pursuing the Road Runner. An excerpt: "As Mr. Coyote gripped the handlebars, the Rocket Sled accelerated with such sudden and precipitate force as to stretch Mr. Coyote's forelimbs to a length of fifty feet."
Throughout the nearly two-dozen essays, Frazier demonstrates his remarkable gift for language: he parodies everything from New Yorkers' talent for "getting in people's faces," to the IRS (while using some actual government-issued verbiage), and he mixes the classic with the less-than-classic in Boswell's Life of Don Johnson.
From Publishers Weekly
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.
See all Editorial Reviews
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.