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Fierce Pajamas: An Anthology of Humor Writing from The New Yorker (Modern Library Paperbacks) Paperback – October 15, 2002


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Fierce Pajamas: An Anthology of Humor Writing from The New Yorker (Modern Library Paperbacks) + Disquiet, Please!: More Humor Writing from The New Yorker (Modern Library Paperbacks) + The 50 Funniest American Writers*: An Anthology of Humor from Mark Twain to The Onion
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Product Details

  • Series: Modern Library Paperbacks
  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Modern Library; Reprint edition (October 15, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375761276
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375761270
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #595,216 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Remnick, New Yorker editor since 1999, and Finder, the magazine's editorial director, recommend taking this book in small doses. However, New Yorker humor is not for everyone. Do not read this book if you suffer from an irony deficiency, or if you are currently taking any form of remedial English. Also, do not read this book if you are allergic to E.B. White, Robert Benchley, S.J. Perelman, Dorothy Parker, Woody Allen, Veronica Geng, Steve Martin, or Jack Handey. Side effects include the urge to do literary research (to track down the targets of spoofs) and the discovery of some very funny writers who may be unknown to you. To learn more about the type of material contained in this book, consult Judith Yaross Lee's Defining New Yorker Humor (LJ 2/1/00). Ask your librarian if Fierce Pajamas is right for you. Available by prescription at public and academic libraries. Susan M. Colowick, North Olympic Lib. Syst., Port Angeles, WA
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

“A complete delight from beginning to end.” —The New York Times

“Classic humor writing from a fantasy slumber party of writers.” —Vanity Fair

“Quite simply among the greatest stuff like this ever written . . . There is comic brilliance in these pages. . . . [Fierce Pajamas] is more than worth your time, your money and the potential damage to your funny bone.” —The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The New Yorker’s fine anthology of humor writing can inspire us to collectively bemoan the scarcity of a certain kind of printed comedy: the subtle and sophisticated type." —Newsday

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

48 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 24, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This book is a perfect gift for all fans of The New Yorker!
If you are like me, The New Yorker's cartoons draw your attention first. Then, you'll look for quips in verse. You'll scan your favorite features. Next, you'll scan the table of contents for your favorite writers. Finally, you will read articles on subjects of interest.
In all cases, you can expect to be surprised with wit . . . even in the midst of "serious" articles on "serious" subjects.
Unless you have read every issue of The New Yorker over the past 75 plus years, undoubtedly you've missed some wonderful humor in the form of prose and poetry. This anthology lets you quickly access the works that have "stood the test of time" to still produce a laugh now for both editor, David Remnick, and editorial director, Henry Finder.
Over 70 contributors are represented, many by more than one piece.
You are cautioned that "humor is often diluted by concentration" so that you should sample this collection over time in small doses, like medicine.
The works are loosely organized into Spoofs, the Frenzy of Renown, the War between Men and Women, the Writing Life, a Funny Thing Happened, Words of Advice, Recollections and Reflections, and Verse.
The works vary a lot in how quickly they will reach your funny bone. Some will release many laughs, while others are basically one joke that will raise not too much more than a smile. After you have finished all of the offerings to the altar of humor, you may wish to create your own index of which works match best with which moods and times when you read.
I usually prefer compact works suffused with quick humor. Here are my favorites in the collection:
E.B.
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56 of 64 people found the following review helpful By Mike Stone on March 13, 2002
Format: Hardcover
The prose here sparkles. Purple, in the best sense of the world. Ideas are bandied about left and right like badminton birdies. Themes are covered copiously. Wit and wisdom are abundant, brought out whenever the author needs it, like a samurai does with his sword. The pieces are all triumphs of economy, setting up their propositions and then quickly cutting to the punchline(s) before the reader becomes bored. Writing of this magnitude, especially when collected from such a fine variety of sources in one collection, is to be treasured and preserved. The superlatives for this book are immeasurable... except that it's not funny.
Oh, it's funny, alright. Just not the right kind of funny. "That was clever," you might say to yourself, after a romp through one of Garrison Keillor's prose pieces. "I wonder if I should chortle now? I think I shall... Chortle!" Or: "Look, mum: alliteration! How ingenious. I marvel at the textbook examples of Comedy found herein." It's humour of the head, as you can see, but rarely humour from the gut. The kind that causes an unexpected snort, embarrassing you in a room full of stranger. Or, the kind that promises a swift trip up the nasal passages for the mouthful of milk you just gulped. This is the kind of visceral humour that I expected. Alas, I did not get it.
Let me show you what I mean, by giving some examples of Head-Funny (not Gut-Funny) pieces: Polly Frost's 'Notes on My Conversations', in which the author imagines herself as a professional conversationalist; Thomas Meehan's 'Yma Dream', in which the author must disastrously introduce a series of guests at a party he is throwing (example: "Ilya, Ira, here's Yma, Ava, Oona. Ilya, Ira -- Ona, Ida, Abba, Ugo, Aga.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By WILLIAM BRAZNELL on November 24, 2002
Format: Hardcover
If I were teaching a course in 20th Century American Humor, "Fierce Pajamas" would be my textbook. It is simply the best collection of the best short pieces by the best humor writers of our times--Robert Benchley, James Thurber, E. B. White, Dorothy Parker, S. J. Perelman, Groucho Marks, Steve Martin, Veronica Geng, Woody Allen, Ogden Nash, Martin Amis, John Updike, Mike Nichols, Garrison Keillor, Clarence Day, Frank "The Cliche Expert" Sullivan, Leonard (alias Mr. K*A*P*L*A*N) Ross--what more could one want? (Since you ask, dozens of other fine writers are represented in this unique collection.) Okay,there's not a single Abbott and Costello or Martin and Lewis routine in the whole book. But you knew that. This is wit,satire,irony--humor with an edge--not goofball slapstick. But anyone who can't get a belly laugh out of Steve Martin's "Changes in the Memory After Fifty", Ian Frazer's "Dating Your Mom", or David Owen's timely "What Happened to My Money?" should have his pulse checked. I've been sipping this rare, bubbly vintage for a month or so and am about to go back for seconds. Not only am I recommending it to my friends, I'm impoverishing myself sending copies to everyone I care about! Have a sip yourself.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAME on December 30, 2002
Format: Hardcover
When Pandora opened the forbidden box, all the evils of the world emerged. Only Hope remained to support people. Humour is Hope's offsider, without which Hope is only grim determination. There's nothing grim in this collection, granting the sole exception that so many of the "dated" pieces display a disturbing timelessness. Thurber's 1933 article on Mr. Preble and Frank Sullivan's articles from the same era are examples. No matter, this collection from The New Yorker spans time, topic and technique with enough variety for any reader. Broadly divided into such subject areas as "Spoof," "Words of Advice" and, my favourite, "The Writing Life" the assembly of wit can be approached from almost any direction. The editors caution you not to read it cover to cover, - "put yourself on a diet" - but such advice is unwarranted. The variety of the chosen selections passes you from one piece to the next without choking. Within the topic areas the essays are chronologically arranged. Knowing that, you may chose an area and read at random.
A collection as large and varied as this necessarily lacks universal appeal. Tastes in humour vary as widely as in religion or politics. Groucho Marx is mostly unknown in this generation, but on stage, TV and here in print, displays why he was revered as a comic for many years. On the other hand, Remnick and Finder let Steve Martin convince them he's funny. Others remain to be convinced, but his inclusion in this collection still is justified. There is more than just the issue of generations involved. "Classical" humourists abound here, James Thurber, E. B. White and Robert Benchley.
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