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Mirth of a Nation: The Best Contemporary Humor Paperback – February 2, 2000


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Paperbacks; 1 edition (February 2, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060953217
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060953218
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,880,127 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Mirth of a Nation is a collection of short humor pieces compiled by the Thurber House, which is a very dry way of describing a very funny book. Mirth is, at long last, a truly perfect humor-browser's read, for everything--everything--is presented with a wry wink. The book opens with Dave Eggers's guidelines for submitting work to the Thurber House ("Before undertaking the typing, straightening, and mailing of your submission, please do us the small favor of washing your hands. Please.") and closes with Al Franken's refreshingly mean-spirited index ("Luntz, Frank, likelihood of his immediately turning to index and looking up his name, 48"). In between is a hilarious collection of both new and previously published pieces. Targets range from contemporary issues (Chris Harris, tackling the UFO phenomenon in "What We Talk About When We Talk About Little Green Men": "If their object is stealth, why must they employ colored, blinking lights on the outside of their spacecraft? Is it alien Christmastime?") to the biblical, as in Ian Frazier's marvelous "Laws Concerning Food and Drink; Principles; Lamentations of the Father" ("Heed me; for if you sit like that, your hair will go into the syrup. And now behold, even as I have said, it has come to pass.") The book is so funny, in fact, that it would be a pity to give away any more punch lines. Grab a copy and see for yourself. --Ali Davis

From Publishers Weekly

The audio medium is probably the best way to absorb this collection of comic pieces written by American humorists. The vignettes, which range from the hokey to the truly jocular, receive the royal treatment by seasoned actors Roberts and Essman. Other performers, notably Plimpton and Rakoff, add spunk and pizzazz to what might otherwise be dry, vaguely spirited essays. Rakoff gives a cynical and hilarious performance of his own "All Happy Families...," about a neurotic dude whose New Year's resolution is to explore "more natural avenues to happiness" (e.g., by eating four packages a day of Robert's American Gourmet Gingko Biloba Rings). Essman's reading of Carina Chocano's "The Self-Help Hot Line" is appropriately saccharine, while Roberts's delivery of Bruce McCall's "Who Wants to Keep His Job" is matter-of-fact. All the pieces were anthologized in either Mirth of a Nation and More Mirth of a Nation, and some originally appeared in the New York Times magazine, Tropic magazine, Salon.com, McSweeney's Internet Tendency, the New Yorker and other publications. While some tracks are bound to be replayed for friends more than others, this is overall a valuable and well-performed collection.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Greetings and thanks for welcoming me into your home. Since I write books for both young readers and adults, I've cooked up two long-winded paragraphs.

Kids first: So, I'm the author of some four dozen books for children of all ages. New titles including SAILING THE UNKNOWN: Around the World with Captain Cook; MY DOG! A Kid's Guide to Keeping a Happy & Healthy Dog (the ideal go-to dog guide for families); a pop-up book with Robert Sabuda, CHANUKAH LIGHTS, winner of the Sydney Taylor Award; and THE HOUND DOG'S HAIKU and Other Poems for Dog Lovers.
Other favorites are The Cuckoo's Haiku and Other Poems for Birders; Our Farm: Four Seasons with Five Kids on One Family's Farm (which I both wrote and illustrated with some 400 photographs); A Drive in the Country; Don't Shoot!; A School for Pompey Walker, and Elijah's Angel. (And, yes, there's the Britiish Michael--no "J."--Rosen whose many books are often confused with mine.) For over 35 years, ever since working as a counselor, water-safety instructor, and art teacher at local community centers, I've been engaged with young children, their parents and teachers. As a visiting author, in-service speaker, and workshop leader, I frequently travel to schools and conferences around the nation, sharing stories, poems, creativity, and humor.

Several of my books here show my work as editor/anthologist or illustrator. It has been my privilege to have enlisted hundreds of other authors and artists to create 15 philanthropic books that aid in the fight to end childhood hunger through Share Our Strength's national efforts, or that offer care to less fortunate companion animals through The Company of Animals Fund, a granting program I administered for a dozen years.

Now, for adults. I can start by saying I'm a poet. I went to Columbia from 1979-1981, and received my MFA there. Poems are now collected in three volumes, which are all featured here at Amazon. Moving home to Ohio, I worked as an illustrator (while in NYC, I began selling spot illustrations to The New Yorker and Gourmet magazines); one of my first real clients was The Thurber House, the soon-to-be-restored home of Columbus's native son, James Thurber. For almost twenty years, I helped to restore the home, develop the programs there, and edit much of Thurber's uncollected work. (Those volumes are also featured here.) It was there, I began to edit short story anthologies, commission great writers to contribute to books about dogs, horses, and even VW Beetles. That's also where I started Mirth of a Nation, a three-volume humor biennial that constitutes almost 2,000 pages of the best contemporary humor.

Otherwise, my Website has a good deal about my life on the 100-acre farm I share in Central Ohio. Thanks again for reading along with me.

www.fidosopher.com

for lots more about MY DOG!, including recipes, training tips, cool projects, games, and so forth: www.workman.com/mydog

Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Ervin S Duggan on February 3, 2000
Format: Paperback
I have a simple test for any book that purports to be funny: Will it make me laugh out loud? Something that simply causes the corners of my mouth to turn up in a smile won't do the job. This collection of humorous essays, however--- brightly contemporary,impressively varied, occasionally political--- met the test handsomely. This is an anthology, and not every piece succeeds; Christopher Buckley's brittle faux-sophistication, for example, left this reader with a hollow feeling; he's too determined to impress; he seems to try too hard. For the most part, however, the pieces in this collection are dependably funny. Ian Frazier's collection of rules for children--- expressed in the high rhetoric of the King James Bible--- not only made me laugh out loud; I woke up my wife and read the piece aloud to her, with tears of mirth running down my cheeks; she laughed out loud, too. This collection is not only well worth the price; it will cheer you up for days, and bring you back to read the short pieces again and again.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Humor Book Addict on April 17, 2005
Format: Paperback
With about 140 pieces from dozens of contributors, this humor anthology is a mixed bag. For me, some of the essays and parodies fell flat. Yet enough were truly hysterical to sustain me and keep me turning those pages. Among my favorites: Jon Stewart's "Pen Pals" and "The Last Supper, or The Dead Waiter"; Garry Trudeau's "I Am a Tip-Top Starlet" and "To Our Valued Customers"; Al Franken's "Index";Zev Borow's "A Graceland for Adolf"; Mark O'Donnell's "TV Guide, Soon"; Bill Scheft's "The All-Purpose Concession Speech"; and P. J. O'Rourke's "Memoir Essay."
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 18, 2000
Format: Paperback
I got this for a friend's birthday, and had a hard time parting with it. When I get a copy for myself, I'm getting two, so I can give another one away. Nearly everything in here is dead-on funny. I had to call my sister and read some of it aloud, because I couldn't just keep on laughing to myself all afternoon, but she couldn't make out much of what I was saying through the laughter. The collection of McCourt memoir parodies still makes me laugh a week later -- Shlomo McCourt, Frances Mayle McCourt... The news quizzes, eh, not so funny. Otherwise, loved it.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By starspangledgirl on March 26, 2002
Format: Paperback
Many humor anthologies are very hit and miss, and they also tend to be very much a "boys only" club. Mirth of a Nation is of the best I've ever seen, both in terms of quality and in including an good representation of women humorists. Michael J. Rosen has done an excellent job in compiling humorists such as Fran Lebowitz, Dave Barry, Mark O'Donnell, Jon Stewart, David Sedaris, Colleen Werthman, Patricia Marx and Henry Alford, just to name a few. This anthology would make a wonderful gift for just about anyone in any age group (it is pretty much "clean humor"). Treat yourself with it at any time, but especially if you are going to be on a plane,train, or subway. I hope they have many sequels!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By "2manycooks" on October 26, 2003
Format: Paperback
Humor books are usually miscellaneous hodge-podges of "something for everybody." This one is not. It's a sustained compilation of great writing. Writing by very talented people who are variously smart-alec, smart-assed. and just plain smart. That's the one thing that's similiar about all the pieces: they're just very well done. After that, there's a huge range, from Sedaris's hilariously scatching review of kiddie theatrical productions to Garry Trudeau's re-re-retranslating of a Madonna interview back and forth from Russian. There are as many expected players--Ian Frazier, Fran Lebowitz, Dave Barry, P.J. O'Rourke with terrific pieces--as there are surprises and newer names. Favorites? Howard Mohr (who worked with Garrison Keillor on Prairie Home Companion for years), John Updike doing a parody about J. Edgar Hoover cross-dressing. David Ives, the brilliant playwright, giving a culinary history through philosophers. Even the index, by Al Franken, shows that Mirth of a Nation is serious about being funny, from cover to cover. I have the second volume, More Mirth of a Nation, and, believe it or not, it's even better. Thirds, anyone? I gather from their website it will be out in 2004. Can't wait.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 4, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book is a hilarious compendium of short humor writing by the funniest authors around today. Perfect subway, bedtime, or bathroom reading.
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