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Created in Darkness by Troubled Americans: The Best of McSweeney's, Humor Category Kindle Edition

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Length: 256 pages Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled

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Editorial Reviews Review

Created in Darkness by Troubled Americans: The Best of McSweeney's, Humor Category, a collection from the clever young writers that bring us the McSweeney's literary journal and Web site, and co-edited by their leader, Dave Eggers, is funny from the first page. And by "first page," we mean the table contents. Of course not every essay, list, and swatch of dialogue are created equal, but the collection has many tasty morsels that are well worth a read, a read to friends, and then a re-read, after a decent interval has elapsed.

Most appealing in the book's starting lineup is J.M. Tyree's "On the Implausibility of the Death Star's Trash Compactor." Humorous as well as thought-provoking, this essay makes the perfect amuse bouche for what is arguably the collection's main course of hilarity, "Fire: the Next Sharp Stick?", "Candle Party," and "Unused Audio Commentary by Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky, Recorded Summer 2002, for the Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring DVD (Platinum Series Extended Version), Part One," all to be found in the early middle. Though a familiarity with candle parties, Howard Zinn, sharp sticks, and other topics satirized in this book is helpful, it's not necessarily required for understanding the jokes. The biggest risk here is binge-reading, as you may exchange audible laughter for the feeling that you are being force-fed an ice cream sundae. If you pace yourself--say no more than four to six pieces at a time--you should have the energy for the final third, including the funny list marathon at the end. Or save a few portions for later when you are really starving for a good laugh. --Leah Weathersby

From Publishers Weekly

In his introduction, McSweeney's founder Eggers says the goal of these short pieces, most of which originally appeared on the McSweeney's Web site, is to be "funny without being humorous," which is an open invitation for critical bashing. It's true that the short stories, essays and lists—oh, so many lists—tend not to have, or even try for, the sort of universal appeal that turns stand-up comedians into bestselling authors. Readers' reactions will depend on whether they share the same level of erudition and love for pop culture as the authors. Greg Purcell's spot-on impression of the deranged voice of Ezra Pound's later writings, for example, will work only for those who know Pound's work, while the "Journal of a New COBRA Recruit" will be equally incomprehensible to people who didn't grow up with GI Joe in the 1980s. If you get the jokes, though, they can be side-splittingly hilarious. Of course, there are misfires, especially those that play with the idea of trying and failing to be funny.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • File Size: 601 KB
  • Print Length: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; 1 edition (August 10, 2004)
  • Publication Date: August 10, 2004
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000FC1VO2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #429,364 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Trevor Seigler on September 3, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Like any humor collection, not everything in "Created In Darkness" is a guarenteed laugh riot. Then again, McSweeneys has a reputation for aiming more for the brain than the funny bone, so that shouldn't be a surprise. What IS a surprise is that the amount of really good pieces outweighs the fair to not-very-good pieces.

Among the stand-outs: the two Ezra Pound pieces (I was vaguely familiar with Pound's WWII activities, so that helps to get it), the Diary of a Cobra Recruit (haven't we all wondered if they were taught how to shoot at everything but the G.I. Joes?), The Letters to Mr. Vandwoude(sic), who refuses to be scammed out of his cash by a faux "orphan" charity, Michael Ian Black's look at why people hate him, and Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky's commentary for LOTR: The Fellowship of The Ring (no matter how you lean politically, you'll laugh your ass off).

There are many more that, if I hadn't just gotten up, I would be able to rattle off for inclusion in the "stand-outs" section, but maybe you should go ahead and buy the book and see for yourself...

Anyway, I read this book over a weekend, and enjoyed just about every minute of it. The one fault I give it is the section of lists at the end. That got old real quick, page after page, but there were plenty of hilarious ones to make it worthwhile.

So do yourself a favor and pick this up. It's a nice selection of humor pieces from one of the few really good humor sites out there.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Trevor on October 4, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I'm giving this five stars instead of four because this is -- where, if you really like something and have the relatively reasonable expectation that your like should effect the overall perception of the book, then you have to say "five stars" to make up for those who are jerks. Anyway, I liked this book, a lot. For those of you familiar with Mcsweeney's, it's a great collection. For those of you who are not -- you are missing out, by the way -- it's a great introduction. It's always funny and smart and sometimes very funny and very smart. Everyone who is not my mother will laugh out loud.

One more thing, while it's great to read in the bathroom, be careful. I was serious about the laughing out loud. Your housemates will think you're weird.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A. Ross HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 13, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Like basically anything else in literature, humor is exceedingly subjective. Comic fiction is probably my favorite genre, and my most desperately sought-after. Alas, there's little out there that truly hits the right note for me, so while others extol the genius of Will Ferrell in "Old School" I often end up retreating to the sublime prose of P.G. Wodehouse (although that scene where they're in the van and "Master of Puppets" is blasting, is pretty sweet). I was enthused to pick up this anthology of short pieces that have appeared in the McSweeny's lit rag or on their web site over the years, as I often find McSweeny's to be good fun (when they're not lapsing into preciousness or lurching into cleverness). There are about fifty pieces in this book (plus about 25 lists), and I'm a little bummed to report that I only really loved 5 of these.

As others have noted, J.M. Tyree's "On the Implausibility of the Death Star's Trash Compactor" is excellent stuff, relying, of course, on an appreciation for the film "The Empire Strikes Back." In general, the longer pieces tended to much better. Indeed, the longest piece in the book (at 18 pages), is thankfully also one of the funniest, as Jeff Alexander and Tom Bissell imagine a lost DVD commentary for the first "Lord of the Rings" films, as done by Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn. Again, this relies on an appreciation of "The Two Towers" as well as the works of Chomsky and Zinn. It's so sidesplittingly funny that I'm going to violate copyright at work tomorrow by copying it and mailing it to a bunch of friends (I know... so pre-email...). Jim Stallard's excellent 13 page "No Justice, No Foul" is based on the premise that historically, when the Supreme Court has been split, the decision is decided by a 4 on 4 basketball game.
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Sean Carman on November 17, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This is a fine book, and I encourage you to buy it. Buy it now. Buy the book already. Stop with the equivocating. Be strong. It's a great book. You won't regret it.

But could we stop talking about how we like to read this book in the bathroom? I am merely one tiny contributor among many to the book, one miniscule contributor among a multitude to the website. I can't speak for everyone. Still, the idea that you are reading something of mine in your bathroom sort of creeps me out. Unless you are Angelina Jolie, and even then I have to think about it. I just don't like the idea that the hand you are using the turn the page on "Lessons Learned from My Study of Literature" was, a moment before -- GROSS! Stop it. Just stop it right now.

True, my entry in this compendium is quite small, putting the odds against you actually reading my words in your bathroom. You probably enjoyed my entry on your back porch during a gorgeous sunset, or on an afternoon spin in your convertible, your best friend reading aloud from the passenger seat, her long hair swirling up furiously, as if a miniature tornado were chasing your Miata, your golden retriever in the back seat smiling that goofy golden retriever smile. Still, there is the remote chance that you are, instead, alone, furtively -- oh God, I can't even think about it.

This book makes a great gift. It's small, and light, and will display your good taste. It will make your best friend happy when she unwraps it, and you more beautiful in her eyes, which is what the holidays are all about. Believe me when I say that you cannot go wrong with this book.

Just try not to take it into the bathroom. Please. For my sake.

Thank you, that is all.
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