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The Fran Lebowitz Reader by Fran Lebowitz Paperback – July 12, 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: by Fran Lebowitz (July 12, 2009)
  • ASIN: B004H735D6
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.8 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,901,484 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

72 of 74 people found the following review helpful By Catherine S. Vodrey on July 26, 2002
Format: Paperback
Fran Lebowitz's "The Fran Lebowitz Reader" is a must for anyone interested in the best in "urban cool" writing. Lebowitz is unusual in being an American humorist of the barbed--not warm and fuzzy, like Erma Bombeck--variety. She lays on the sarcasm and the weary, I've-seen-it-all attitude a little thick at times, but hey, this woman was born in the wrong era and you can't blame her for that. Picture Dorothy Parker come back to life with a fleshier face and uncooperative hair and you have a decent picture of Lebowitz.
I can't resist quoting. Some of these are classics that you may be surprised to learn came from Lebowitz:
"My favorite way to wake up is to have a certain French movie star whisper to me softly at two-thirty in the afternoon that if I want to get to Sweden in time to pick up my Nobel Prize for Literature, I had better ring for breakfast. This occurs rather less often than one might wish."
* * *
"There is no such thing as inner peace. There is only nervousness or death."
* * *
"All God's children are not beautiful. Most of God's children are, in fact, barely presentable."
* * *
"[In grade school,] I believed passionately that Communists were a race of horned men who divided their time equally between the burning of Nancy Drew books and the devising of a plan of nuclear attack that would land the largest and most lethal bomb squarely upon the third-grade class of Thomas Jefferson School in Morristown, New Jersey."
* * *
"Polite conversation is rarely either."
* * *
"The only appropriate reply to the queston, 'Can I be frank?' is 'Yes, if I can be Barbara.' "
* * *
"Looking genuinely attentive is like sawing a girl in half and then putting her back together. It is seldom achieved without the use of mirrors.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By adam david on December 30, 2002
Format: Paperback
Look, anyone who can proclaim that their idea of exercise is having to light their own cigarette has got my vote.
There are some brilliant pieces in here, but there is no question that they were of a time. The selections from Metropolitan Life work best for me; they are, as one would've said in '70s Manhattan, "a stitch". Still, I can't imagine even a modern new yorker not being able to identify greatly with some of these insights and witticisms. Kind of like the movie Arthur, it evokes a different time but you'll still be able to recognize all the people and feelings. And it's damn, damn funny.
As another reviewer begged, come back Fran, we need to read what you have to say about today's anti-smoking, anti-dancing, anti-livable, post-Giuliani town.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By J. Buller on August 4, 2005
Format: Paperback
I first read Fran Lebowitz's delightful essays back in the late 70s and early 80s when they were fresh, new, and exciting. Recently in a mood for just her insightful, ironic take on the world again, I dug out my dog-eared copies of METROPOLITAN LIFE and SOCIAL STUDIES only to find ... that they're just as fresh, new, and exciting today as they were then.

Fran Lebowitz falls both into the tradition of great humorist essayists like H.L. Mencken and Dorothy Parker and of social satirists like Juvenal and Horace. She doesn't suffer fools gladly but, despite what other reviewers have said below, she doesn't suffer them unkindly either. In fact, I came across the current book as I was searching this web site desperately hoping that she had published another book after her two great earlier triumphs, and I was stunned to see the bile and venom emitted by some of the reviewers. Fran Lebowitz is FUNNY. (I mean, laugh-out-loud funny.) She's SATIRICAL. There is absolutely nothing in her works at which to be offended (seriously).

Her take on the world is that of a slightly world-weary urban sophisticate. It probably doesn't hurt that this is a style I particularly admire or that so many of her views reflect my own. (She had me at "The outdoors is what you have to go through to get from the apartment into the taxi.")

The essays in this book are terrifically written, models of wit and good style, admirably concise, and still pertinent today.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Josh Naftel on January 26, 2000
Format: Paperback
Absolutely uproarious! By the second page, I was on the floor nearly asphixiating from laughter. Lebowitz has an innate flair for striking the funny bone with a combination of a purposefully erudite tone and an unapolgetically self-oriented perspective. Not for the dull-witted.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 26, 1997
Format: Paperback
A somewhat amusing look at society, New York, and the audibly tan by a woman who knows all. She really does. Wonderful answers to questions you did no know existed. Swell and dandy I'd have to say
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Humor Book Addict on January 1, 2005
Format: Paperback
Fran Lebowitz is sometimes referred to as the successor to Dorothy Parker. A few similarities are apparent. Both are sharp-witted, female New Yorkers famous for their often stinging one-liners. Yet, if Parker could be considered a painter of the urban American landscape in the 1920s through 1950s, Lebowitz should be considered a sketch artist from the 1970s. I don't think she has Parker's depth or sense of structure. Her essays are playful but often amount to mere list making or an assemblage of loosely connected observations that could just as well belong on a greeting card or cocktail napkin. And she often relies way too heavily on puns. Several pieces in this collection fall flat for me. Yet others - such as her advice to heiresses, "At Home with Pope Ron," and "The Last Laugh" - were quite clever. I think she's worth reading as perhaps one of the leading humorists of her generation. Comparisons with the more versatile and compelling Parker are a bit of a stretch, though.
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