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52 Reviews
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Comic's Classic
Cruel Shoes is Steve Martin's masterpiece book. While some of the passages seem to make little to no sense, other passages are laugh-out-loud brilliant.
The best passages in the this book are "Cruel Shoes" and "The Diarrhea Gardens of El Camino Real". These passages poke fun at women's desire for shoes and environmentalists with the wrong idea...
Published on September 20, 2003 by JMack

versus
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars This collection of short stories (some of the stories only 5 words in length) crosses the line that divides 'funny' from 'danger
This book is dangerous. Do not purchase this book unless you understand that Steve Martin was consulting a Ouija board and an unnamed 'spirit' to find inspiration for each deadly short story. Also prepare yourself to be influenced by the most ridiculous mé·lange of demented fragments from a man obviously influenced by some strange, yet powerful entity (and a little...
Published 3 months ago by Maximilian Lucado


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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Comic's Classic, September 20, 2003
By 
This review is from: Cruel Shoes (Hardcover)
Cruel Shoes is Steve Martin's masterpiece book. While some of the passages seem to make little to no sense, other passages are laugh-out-loud brilliant.
The best passages in the this book are "Cruel Shoes" and "The Diarrhea Gardens of El Camino Real". These passages poke fun at women's desire for shoes and environmentalists with the wrong idea. Other classics include "The Turds", "Wrong Number", and "Comedy Events You Can Do". "The Last Thing on My Mind" is the kind of thought prvoking comedy that is the trademark of George Carlin. "Society in Aspen" also has its moments including naming Jesus as a frequent horse shoe player.
The only soft spot in the book is the poetry. I am not sure where Martin was going with it, but it really does not work. Also many of the pages are pictures which seems somewhat wasteful when the pictures are poor quality.
With all of the classic humor in the book, there is no reason it should be out of print. It is a bargain at the available used prices.
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29 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Genius?, October 15, 2000
By 
This review is from: Cruel Shoes (Hardcover)
I found this book at the local library several years ago, when I was a senior in high school. The result? Hours and hours spent trying to write a story as funny as Martin's -- during class. I do, however, forgive him for making me end school on a bad note, since he wrote such a remarkable book!
I don't think anyone can really understand how bizarre Martin's humor is until they read his short (very short) stories. Most of the stories seem to be a bizarre twist on the small things of our everyday life. Did you ever stop to think if apologizing was a sufficient penance for dialing a wrong number? Did you ever wonder how far women's obsessions with shoes could go? Have you ever envisioned dogs leading a separate life? If you've been too short-sighted and overlooked these weighty matters, Steve Martin will right this wrong in your life.
Most of the stories are brilliantly funny (for some reason, THE SMOKERS just kills me), some are just too bizarre for words. Some of the stories seem to be a random jumble of sentences - which sometimes works (Shuckin' the Jive) and sometimes fails (The Vengeful Curtain Rod). It's not perfect, but definitely worth a look if you're looking for a unique kind of comedy.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars are poodles still good eating?, April 24, 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: Cruel Shoes (Hardcover)
Somewhere in a box at my father's home is a abused beaten up copy of this magnificent text. I see some future historian stumbling over this book, in some distant millennium and wondering what in the hell is going on here. Was this the 20th Century? Looking around at the slobbering, still biting, yackeddy yackeddy misbred poodles that will be inhabiting our poor planet even centuries hence, the discoverer will surely see these dimunations as the true source of all of man's folly, and realize, like Steve Martin so aptly does in his work, that man can only be saved when one sees poodles as good eating.
Mr Martin's genius is on display throughout the text. Not even Congressman Henry Waxman could see the even greater danger that is in store for the cigarette smoker.This book clearly reveals how cigarettes can lead, in there folly, to a lip shortage that nobody can truly desire.
The absence of this book from current shelves can only be descibed as a national tragedy, with maybe even a conspiracy angle to boot (take note Oliver Stone). Someone must rectify this now (with perhaps an annotated edition (with all of the completely new pictures that the cover claimed were inside), before the bridge to the future is rusting and littered with poodle droppings. The future is at stake, try to remember that. Sincerely, Winslow Homo
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book truly reshaped my view of the world!, January 13, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Cruel Shoes (Hardcover)
In fourth grade, while my classmates played kickball, I sat by myself on the swings and read Steve Martin's "Cruel Shoes" (heck - I was always picked last anyway!). From the first time I read about "The Day the Dopes Came", I was an instant fan. Martin taught me to look at the world from an absurdist perspective. I no longer cared what my classmates thought of me! They're all a bunch of turds anyway (see Martin's "Turds from Turdsmania" article). Bless you Steve!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Looking at the evolution of Steve Martin through his writings..., February 4, 2009
By 
This review is from: Cruel Shoes (Hardcover)
One of the things I liked about Steve Martin's recent autobiography (Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life) is that it "filled in the gaps" of the Steve Martin phenomenon. I grew up with Martin, from his appearances on Saturday Night Live (the first five years), to his many appearances on the Johnny Carson Show (remember the world's biggest joke?), his concerts on college campuses, his acting in The Jerk and Roxanne, and, eventually, to his writing. I'm certain Cruel Shoes is the first book authored by Martin that I read. Others, including Shopgirl and Pure Drivel, followed.

He is a very talented person.

I've probably told the "Cruel Shoes" title story twenty times, when the conversation came round to the strange shoes women sometimes wear. "Look... the cruel shoes!," is not an uncommon expression in our family, particularly when somebody stumbles because (why else) they are wearing, "the cruel shoes."

This is a small book with short stories and poems. There is a complexity to many of the stories that requires rumination.

Examples:

"Dr. Fitzkee's Lucky Astrology Diet

The problem with the diets of today is that most women who do achieve that magic weight, seventy-six pounds, are still fat. Dr. Fitzkee's Lucky Astrology Diet is a sure-fire method of reducing with the added luxury that you never feel hungry. Here's how the diet works:

Foods Allowed.
First Month: one egg.
Second month: a raisin.
Third month: pumpkin pie with whipped cream and chocolate sauce.

If after the third month you haven't gotten to your dream weight, try lopping off parts of your body until those scales tip just right for you" (p. 100-1).

--
"What To Say When The Ducks Show Up

I, for one, am going to know what to say when the ducks show up. I've made a list of phrases, and although I don't know which one to use yet, they are all good enough in case they showed up tomorrow. Many people won't know what to say when the ducks show up, but I will. Maybe I'll say, 'oh ducks, oh ducks, oh ducks,' or just 'ducks wonderful ducks!' I practice these sayings every day, and even though the ducks haven't come yet, when they do, I'll know what to say" (p. 103).

--
"The Nervous Father

'Daddy, where did I come from?'

'Uh...uh...Well, Tommy, well, it seems...well...Why, Why out of the garbage can, son. The garbage man comes and throws you in the garbage can and Mommy goes out and gets you. You see, the garbage men pick you up at the creampuff, cherry gingerbread house run by the angels with the puppy faces, and the North Star wonder men with the magic seeds tiptoe 'round the huckleberry tree.'

'Well, where did the clock-radio come from?'

'Oh... Same place'" (p. 106).

Like I said... ruminate. Then say "ouch." Enjoy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars This collection of short stories (some of the stories only 5 words in length) crosses the line that divides 'funny' from 'danger, September 25, 2014
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This review is from: Cruel Shoes (Hardcover)
This book is dangerous. Do not purchase this book unless you understand that Steve Martin was consulting a Ouija board and an unnamed 'spirit' to find inspiration for each deadly short story. Also prepare yourself to be influenced by the most ridiculous mé·lange of demented fragments from a man obviously influenced by some strange, yet powerful entity (and a little Peyote perhaps.)

Furthermore, realize that the 'Steve Martin' you will be reading in this book has left us all to be with the spirits he may have contacted to write Cruel Shoes. I believe they all live in or near Paris working to catalog ancient books on the occult.

As for the content of the book? This collection of short stories (some of the stories only 5 words in length) crosses the line that divides 'funny' from 'dangerously funny.' The kind of funny which may alter the course of your life if you have been cursed with a mind that will actually understand all of the implications of the 'humor' presented in Cruel Shoes from the mind of Steve Martin (*if* that is his real name.)

Some of the information I have found about the 'why's' and 'wherefores' of this book may be dubious, but might explain why the book is banned in twelve countries.

Simply stated;
BE CAREFUL!

Other than that it is a great little book and I highly recommend it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pictures of Martin and text written in the typical absurd style of Steve Martin, June 27, 2006
This review is from: Cruel Shoes (Paperback)
This book contains a lot of pictures of Martin at a typewriter looking sad, disillusioned and suffering from a creative crisis. It also contains a series of short pieces written in the usual absurd Martin style. The title comes from a clerk at a shoe store who coaxes people into buying "cruel shoes", shoes so bad that they make your feet bleed.

Sometimes even the titles are absurd, as in "Sex Crazed Love Goddesses" which is a story about a boy going to the store to buy stamps. There is nothing other than that in the story. "The Boring Leading the Bored" is about a meeting of logicians and metaphysicists where things go extremely wrong. Absurd and occasionally hilarious in the Martin style, this is a comedy book unlike any other.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Complex and insightful, this book is a literary classic!, March 24, 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: Cruel Shoes (Hardcover)
This Steve Martin offering is sure to go down in history as the most entertaining piece of literature of all time. I read from it every night. In that way, I suppose it's something like a Bible to me, except, of course, it's funnier than the Bible. It's a work that needs to be read again and again to be truly appreciated. The genius Steve Martin has cleverly woven layer upon layer of philosophical humor and intertwined that humor with snippets of his unique views of life, hobos, smoking, and dogs...always dogs, also cows. If you're fortunate enough to find a copy of this book, BUY IT IMMEDIATELY! You will read it again and again, always learning something new and intriguing about a gaslamp, a cornflower, or the metaphysicians
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cruelly funny, September 18, 2005
This review is from: Cruel Shoes (Hardcover)
A very funny classic Steve Martin! A work of comic genius! Steve Martin's short stories are definately a way to kick back on the weekend and have a good laugh. In one memorable story

"some of tubbies flesh flew off and nourished a sunflower."

You cannot beat Steve, on the cover of the book he looks pensive in a fedora and tan suit, with a specter smoke cloud above a carefully tilted cigarette, a crooked smile,and reflective sunglasses glinting in the light. You just have to know that it is going to be completely hilarious.

If ever you were unsure of soup-folding proceedure, or needed some cruel shoes, or were not knowledgeable on what to do if you call a wrong number...this book is for you.

If you have been missing insightful stories on Poodles, shopping men, cows or anything else that's seemingly arbitrary pick up this book. Relax sit back in your chair and pick this up. It's got humor, is well written and lighthearted.
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8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The Worst of Steve Martin, July 18, 2005
By 
Jimmy (Chapel Hill, NC) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Cruel Shoes (Hardcover)
I love Steve Martin's stand-up and movies, but his writing is hit or miss for me. Neither jokes nor stories, Cruel Shoes is a collection of abstract incomplete thoughts that don't amount to much more than a couple flashes of cleverness. On the other hand, it takes a slow reader like me 30 minutes to get through and it is available used from $1.29, so if you're a Steve Martin fan and you want to check it out, you don't have much to lose.

Just when I was ready to write off Steve Martin as a writer, I picked up his two most recent books (Shopgirl and The Pleasure of My Company) and liked them a lot. The Pleasure of My Company is actually funny, and Shopgirl is interesting without really being funny. I would recommend those instead of or in addition to Cruel Shoes.
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Cruel Shoes
Cruel Shoes by Steve Martin (Hardcover - June 1979)
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