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My Life and Hard Times (Perennial Classics) Paperback – October 6, 1999


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My Life and Hard Times (Perennial Classics) + The Thurber Carnival + My World-and Welcome to It (Harvest Book)
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Product Details

  • Series: Perennial Classics
  • Paperback: 86 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial Modern Classics; Reprint edition (October 6, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780060933081
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060933081
  • ASIN: 0060933089
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #30,706 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"As a humorist Thurber is contemporary and timeless." -- -- The Spectator

"Possibly the shortest and most elegant autobiography ever written." -- -- From the Afterword by Russell Baker

"Thurber's My Life and Hard Times is just about the best thing I've ever read." -- -- Ogden Nash

From the Publisher

3 1-hour cassettes --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.

More About the Author

James Thurber (1894-1961) created some thirty volumes of humor, fiction, children's books, cartoons, and essays in just about as many years. A founding member of The New Yorker staff, Thurber wrote and illustrated such enduring books as The Thurber Carnival and My Life and Hard Times, which have appeared in countless editions and dozens of languages throughout the world.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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See all 52 customer reviews
Whenever I need a laugh, I take this out and read it….again.
Martha K. O'Neil
It's full of family stories, and by reading it out loud to your family at gatherings, Thurber's wit and laughter will become a family story of your own.
Amazon Customer
This has got to be the funniest book I have ever read and read and read.
peffy@concentric.net

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

51 of 52 people found the following review helpful By lemonzest on December 8, 2001
Format: Paperback
Other reviewers have said it before, but I feel the need to back them up even more: This book is a work of pure genius and originality.
I was lucky enough to discover James Thurber while in the 8th grade, after flipping ahead in my English book and reading "The Car We Had To Push." A year later, I stumbled across copies of this book and "The Thurber Carnival" (an anthology of all his books) at a Harper Collins discount book sale. I consider this book to be the greatest deal of my life, since I purchased it for fifty cents and now feel that I would have done the same if it had been fifty dollars instead.
My Life and Hard Times is only a quarter of an inch thick, disguising the awesome amount of humor it contains. When I packed for college, this was the first book to accompany me on my journey, and I still reread it once or twice a month. The stories can be enjoyed on their own, but when combined into a biography such as this, the realization that Thurber can take the most ordinary-seeming events in life and turn them into a riot of laughter. It almost makes *me* wish for a family as interesting as he makes his own out to be. The stories provide a good dose of nostalgia for those who remember life in the early twentieth century, but for the rest of us, it's a treat to hear the stories through the eyes of someone who lived through it.
I'll stop gushing about how much I absolutely adore this title and leave you with the best advice I can give: BUY THIS BOOK, and treasure it.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Catherine S. Vodrey on March 18, 2002
Format: Paperback
James Thurber actually does tell something of the story of his life in this famed biography, but mostly he just moseys along telling stories with his trademark dry, mopey wit. The very first chapter--"The Night the Bed Fell"--begins with the laconic observation, "I suppose that the high-water mark of my youth in Columbus, Ohio, was the night the bed fell on my father."
Thurber goes on to explain how his grandmother felt that electricity leaked if not plugged up, a preoccupation that kept her busy filling in every gap in every lamp or outlet in the house.
All the chapters are pretty much entitled with the name of some highlight of Thurber's Ohio youth: "The Day the Dam Broke" and "The Night the Ghost Got In" and that sort of thing. What the chapters all have in common is that Thurber is a brilliant storyteller who manages to make the most plebian, everyday happenings matters of sparkling humor.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By ACGT on September 2, 2004
Format: Paperback
In My Life and Hard Times, James Thurber depicts the idiosyncrasies of human beings with a unique and humorous autobiography that diverts the reader and helps them to laugh at life. In a personal collection of stories such as "The Day the Dam Broke" and "The Night the Ghost Got In," Thurber rambles conversationally about his youth the early 1900s, keeping away from politics and big events and instead focusing on the "little perils of routine living" that pepper the lives of the ordinary people. By describing ridiculous events such as an entire town fleeing from a nonexistent flood, Thurber points out humans' lack of common sense and the foolishness that results. His short anecdotes help the reader not only to laugh at the characters and events in his book, but also at the reader's own life. However, Thurber finds no fault with people, instead laughing good naturedly and accepting them as a part of life. Memorable characters, ranging from Thurber's often insane grandfather to a slew of unique housemaids, add humor to the stories with their zany antics. The author's scribbled illustrations, scattered throughout the novel, increase the informal atmosphere. James Thurber's distinctive autobiography is an entertaining, if brief, read. Its frank and humorous look at the silliness of people's lives is fun to read silently, but makes, as Thurber says, "a better recitation."
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By "andlyo" on November 15, 1999
Format: Paperback
This is a fantastic book: short, sweet, delightful, and heart-warming in its sheer simplicity and outrageousness. James Thurber is very straight-forward -- tells it how it was -- and that alone is potent enough to spark an eruption of laughter. However, "My Life and Hard Times" leaves nothing to be desired for personal want of the author's own cherry on top of his account. Thurber renders his childhood memories with such grace and elegance as to leave you spellbound upon completing it, and never tarnishes it with witty comments of spite or exaggeration. This will take you but an evening to complete, but it's definitely worth purchasing!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 29, 2001
Format: Paperback
Unlike most autobiographies, My Life and Hard Times is short and extremely sweet. Despite its length, however, you can pick it up again and again and always be delighted by it. As Thurber says, he talks "largely about small matters and smally about great affairs." And the great affairs he talks about are quite meaningful, adding yet another dimension to the book. After reading it, I had the feeling James Thurber was somewhat depressed because of the limits of life. He only hints at this at the beginning and end of the book in his "Preface to a Life" and "A Note at the End," but it is there, and it is powerful. As for the nine anecdotes that make up the bulk of the book, there is simply no equal: they are very funny, displaying the occasional and humorous insanity of people. This is a book to be read again and again, and to be treasured.
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