Dave Eggers, Matt Groening, Ken Burns, and Conan O'Brien agree: The Onion
, that scrappy mag ruthlessly satirizing madcap modern life and earnest newspaper journalism, is funnier than reality. Dispatches from the Tenth Circle: The Best of the Onion
carries on the proud, shameless tradition of Our Dumb Century
, which won the 1999 Thurber Prize for American Humor. If a real, dumb newspaper wrote a feature story about hell, you bet its headline would be the boosterish one imagined by the maniacs at the Onion: "Tenth Circle Added to Rapidly Growing Hell." When one reads in this book the headline "Arabs, Israelis Sign 'Screw Peace' Accord," one wonders whether The Onion
has not, alas, anticipated the news. Their style of yuks is not for softies: the headline "Loved Ones Recall Local Man's Cowardly Battle with Cancer" may not strike the funny bone of the recently bereaved, but it's a dead-on parody of the sort of sentimental slop that cops major journalism awards in our dumb news era. If you can laugh at the preposterous world around you, and muster the courage to tear down without building up, this book is for you.
From Publishers Weekly
Siegel, who began writing for the Onion in 1995 at age 23, became the satirical publication's editor by 1996, grabbing readers with such headlines as "Dolphins Evolve Opposable Thumbs," "Lutheran Minister Loves to Fuck His Wife" and "C-SPAN Releases Too Hot for C-SPAN! Video." With a surfeit of social/cultural commentary subtexts, some savage, the Onion has more layers than one might think. This collection offers thoroughly entertaining stuff like "Nation's Last Themeless Restaurant Closes" and "New Study Too Frightening to Release." Launched in 1988 as a free weekly for University of Wisconsin dorms, the nutty newspaper now has a circulation of 300,000, proclaiming itself "America's finest news source" and "the world's most popular humor periodical." Perhaps they get away with this because their first book, Our Dumb Century, winner of the 2001 Thurber Prize for American Humor, was a New York Times bestseller. To ignite future projects, the editorial staff left Wisconsin last January to open a New York office, but they didn't lose their sense of humor in the transition, as evidenced by the hilarity here, such as "Fanzine Marred by Typo" and "New Starbucks Opens in Rest Room of Existing Starbucks." Some pieces are short ("Ritalin Cures Next Picasso"), some long, and this collection, with more than 500 b&w photos, illustrations, charts and maps, garners genuine guffaws. No matter how you slice it, the Onion has appeal. (Sept. 4)Forecast: National marketing includes 16-copy floor displays and ads in alternative weeklies and college newspapers, plus a 20-city morning radio campaign. Since the Onion paid PW the highest compliment by parodying Show Daily at BEA, we must return the favor and admit that these nutballs probably have another bestseller on their hands.
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