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Spy: The Funny Years Hardcover – October 25, 2006


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Miramax; 1ST edition (October 25, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401352391
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401352394
  • Product Dimensions: 10.2 x 10.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #188,180 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

With equal parts nostalgia and snarkiness, this history /anthology celebrates the now legendary satirical magazine during its heyday—aka 1986 to 1991, when founders and partners Andersen (Turn of the Century and host of [PRI's] Studio 360) and Carter (editor of Vanity Fair) ran the show (the magazine folded as a monthly in 1994). "We were very lucky to catch two waves—the post-'60s ironic mood and the go-go financial mood," observes Andersen, and these pages offer plenty of opportunity to travel back to those heady days of "Separated at Birth?" and "The Spy Guide to Postmodern Everything." Those who wondered what life at Spy was really like will also be rewarded: former deputy editor Kalogerakis [...] has collected plenty of stories about minuscule paychecks, ridiculously tight budgets and bacchanalian parties (Andersen and Carter chime in with extensive annotations). Certain to be on the holiday wish lists of aging hipsters. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

"Spy was the most influential magazine of the 1980S . . . it was cruel, brilliant, beautifully written and perfectly designed . . ." -- Dave Eggers

"It's a piece of garbage." -- Donald Trump

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Customer Reviews

Not my cup of tea.
Ernest Roberts
"SPY: The Funny Years" is the next best thing to an announcement that the magazine is resuming publication. This book is more than just a "greatest hits" collection.
William D. Geerhart
I'm looking forward to re-reading STFY again, just for the pleasure of it.
Don Reed

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Babaluba on November 26, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
While it's (marginally) interesting to me to learn about the backstage goings-on that went into creating this magazine that I used to love, what I really wanted was lots of reprints of articles that defined Spy. While a few of them are reprinted here (such as the wonderful piece on "yuppie porn") others are inexplicably printed in extremely small type ("A Spy Guide to Postmodern Everything") that literally require a magnifying glass to read! What a disappointment. I gave it an extra star because it's bound very nicely and obviously took a lot of effort to put together.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Jeannette Belliveau on February 7, 2007
Format: Hardcover
How glorious to revisit the magnificent "Checks to Cheapskates" caper! Whereby Spy sent checks for 13 cents to Adnan Koshoggi and Donald Trump, who cashed them. (Cher, Bill Blass, Faye Dunaway, Rupert Murdoch, Mort Zuckerman and others cashed $1.11 checks.)

Most huge fans of Spy will want more reprints of classic articles (and in bigger, more readable type) than appear here. Still, it's wonderful to revisit the definitive article, "It's Yuppie Porn, and we can't help ourselves," as well as pieces on washed-up celebrities after-hours wanderings through the Big Apple, "Separated at Birth," "Logrolling in our Time," "Blurb-o-Matic" and "Celebrity Math."

We also have oddball gems such as "Meet the Nobelists: This month's question: What's the best way to eat an Oreo cookie?"

"Spy: The Funny Years" is a 50-50 split between being a narrative about the founding and history of the 1980s' funniest magazine and excerpts from the more infamous articles.

This book will leave you wanting to rush to eBay for some back issues, or wanting to beg Miramax, the publisher of "The Funny Years," to also bring out a "Best of Spy" compilation of the original articles.

I found myself enjoying the narrative of how Spy came to be, a narrative which may create envy in many a journalist in the stuffy mainstream media, reading about the vastly underpaid minions working at Spy to create its hilarious, information-rich visuals that presaged the Web. Spy also presaged "South Park's" evisceration of pompous celebrities (and Saturday Night Live's "Hollywood Minute").

Spy's founders managed to create articles that were hilarious, visually inspired, tough yet accurate, requiring top-notch lawyering. Will we ever see something comparable for our era?
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By R. W. Rasband VINE VOICE on January 16, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have several piles of old SPY magazine back issues around my house, so I suppose I am part of the ideal audience for this book, "SPY: The Funny Years." It contains a generous sampling of classic SPY articles that I recognized, as well as a few that I missed from the first few issues when I guess it wasn't very available outside New York City. The book also features a detailed history of the magazine written by former editor George Kalogerakis with notes and commentary by co-founders Graydon Carter and Kurt Andersen.

You ask, "why should I buy a big, sort of expensive book about a magazine from twenty years ago?" Well, first because this book is funny as hell. Two of the first pitches of SPY were "The New Yorker crossed with the National Enquirer and David Letterman", or "MAD Magazine for grown-ups", and those are pretty good descriptions. The famous article about the Bohemian Grove is reprinted here in full, as well as Paul Rudnick and Kurt Andersen's "The Irony Epidemic" (perhaps the quintessential SPY piece), and Joe Eszterhas' flame-thrower letter to Mike Ovitz (with annotations.) The best SPY articles produced belly-laughs and cool investigative journalism at the same time.

The history of the magazine included in this volume might seem a little inside to those who aren't already fans, but if you read it you will learn why SPY was probably the most influential magazine of the last twenty years, certainly since the heyday of the National Lampoon. SPY was reviewing other reviewers before blogs were even thought of, and its brand of radical skepticism towards all things media has been ripped off by VH1, E!, and every other pop culture outfit you can name. Only SPY was smart.
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23 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Sharon Langworthy on October 13, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Why do I miss "Spy"?

Because it started out as a satire on all things New York (Trump, rats, Supermodels, Giuliani, etc.) at a time when every other magazine was busy brown-nosing their profilees. Because it expanded to include Washington and Hollywood, too. Because Graydon Carter was still a brilliant, funny, fearless writer/editor, and not the celebrity wannabe, Bush-obsessed, environmentalist hack he has become while at the helm of "Vanity Fair".

Back in the day when "Spy" was still around, there were no sacred cows,
and everyone's persona, no matter what side of the political spectrum they occupied, was fodder for Carter, Anderson, et al's comic touch. The only reason it lacks a fifth star is because it's not a compilation of every single issue.

Relive the glory days of social/political satire in this brilliant book!
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23 of 29 people found the following review helpful By William D. Geerhart on October 29, 2006
Format: Hardcover
"SPY: The Funny Years" is the next best thing to an announcement that the magazine is resuming publication. This book is more than just a "greatest hits" collection. Indeed, it discusses in detail how the remarkably vicious and intelligent publication came to be. Reading the book, one gets nostalgic and then angry that it didn't survive to chronicle the W years. Just imagine what SPY could have done to the likes of Ann Coulter.
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