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The Harmon Chronicles Paperback – October 1, 2002


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"The Worrier's Guide to Life"
In her hugely popular comic drawings, Gemma Correll dispenses dubious advice and unreliable information on life as she sees it, including in her latest release, The Worrier's Guide to Life. Read it and weep...with laughter. Learn more
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Harmon Leon worked on Might magazine with Dave Eggers and has written features in Cosmopolitan, Salon.com, Details, Maxim, and NPR's This American Life. He lives in San Francisco, California.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 252 pages
  • Publisher: ECW Press (October 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1550225278
  • ISBN-13: 978-1550225273
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,757,229 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A. Ross HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on October 26, 2005
Format: Paperback
I was a big fan of Might magazine, where Leon used to work, and I was looking forward to his first book. While I like the idea of Leon's self-described "infiltration journalism", in which he dons various personas and costumes and weasels his way into various places and subcultures in order to check them out, I would have liked it a little better if he didn't enter each situation with such hostile intent. Leon's shtick has been described as a combination of Michael Moore, Tom Green, Candid Camera, The Jamie Kennedy Experiment, Punk'd, which is a pretty accurate -- he's not exactly subtle. And like a lot of these guys (and they are all guys), his ability to follow through with the totally outrageous behavior and ground rules he mandates for himself is definitely admirable on some level. However, where this book falters is in the actual writing -- for the most part, it's just not that good.

Basically, once you know the premise of each piece, that's probably enough to set you laughing (or not). Leon's subsequent choppy description of what happens doesn't generally add much to the enjoyment -- the premise is usually its own punch line. The experiences are arranged into categories like birth, work, home, sex, consumerism, etc. with one to five entries each for a total of 22 pieces. Those few I would recommend were the ones were he: gets hired and tries to get fired from a fast food place, checks out armed forces recruiting, becomes a telephone psychic, becomes a rent-a-clown, becomes a bounty-hunter, and checks into a Scientology hotel and gets recruited. One of the personas he adopts, Dieter Lieterschvantz, is particularly funny with his aggressive pidgin English.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Fan of Infiltration on June 30, 2003
Format: Paperback
Chronicles is loaded with such delightful images, all framed within Leon's brilliant humor prose cadence. I have never laughed out loud so much while reading a book to myself. Even Leon's method of spacing his text weaves a magical comic spell. For example: reporting on his travails at the Eighth Annual America's Most Beautiful Baby Contest in Phoenix, he writes, "I've arrived early. Immediately, through direct eye-interaction from those in the mall, I've already been singled out as a child-abducting pervert. I'm the only one here without a baby. Just a grown man, alone, taking in a beautiful baby contest on a scorching hot Saturday morning, thank you."
A space in the text as Leon ponders this situation.
And then: "You really stand out without a baby. I should've brought one."
Leon has of course been compared with the likes of other infiltrators like Tom Green and Michael Moore, and though he does share similarities with those entertainers, the skill and pace of his storytelling places him in a slightly different field.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Lisa B on January 18, 2003
Format: Paperback
This book was my introduction to the bizarre world of Harmon Leon and what a way to start! I couldn't help giggling through the entire thing as he passes himself off as ridiculous personas to the most serious, unsuspecting victims with hilarious results. It was a vicarious experience - I only wish I had the guts to try it! Harmon gets to peek behind the curtains of Scientology recruitment, the world of lap-dancing and experiences first-hand the scary permissiveness of buying a gun despite presenting himself as most likely to take aim from a rooftop! An extremely funny read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 28, 2003
Format: Paperback
Stand-up comedian, comedy writer, and all-around goofball Leon sets his funnybone crosshairs on the more absurd aspects of American culture in the hysterical Harmon Chronicles. A sort of literary version of "Jackass" or Michael Moore without all the self-righteous baggage, Leon roams the country -- and, at one point, France -- enthusiastically participating in inane activities and just being a general nuisance.
Posing as a German named Dieter Lieterschvantz, he gets hired at a fast food restaurant...just to see how quickly he can get fired. As "aggres-vert" athlete Chas Lemon, Leon tries to find a corporate sponsor at the X Games. And during one inspired bit, Leon attempts to find out just how crazy one has to be before a gun shop clerk refuses to sell them a weapon. And then there's the forays into bounty hunting, Scientology, and lap dancing. Leon's take on Americana is silly, intelligent, and irreverent
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 28, 2003
Format: Paperback
I had to stop reading mid-paragraph several times I was laughing so hard. Simpler than Sedaris, but of the same ilk. And to the reviewer, who gave it 2-stars and "finishes every book they start", well, we'll all let that statement be a judgement as to your judgement.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Lance on November 6, 2002
Format: Paperback
I love this book. It made me laugh so hard I almost fell of my chair. Harmon is a master of uncovering the irony in every situation. I will be buying many copies for my friends and co- workers down at the plant.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Fan of Infiltration on June 26, 2003
Format: Paperback
Chronicles is loaded with such delightful images, all framed within Leon's brilliant humor prose cadence. I have never laughed out loud so much while reading a book to myself. Even Leon's method of spacing his text weaves a magical comic spell. For example: reporting on his travails at the Eighth Annual America's Most Beautiful Baby Contest in Phoenix, he writes, "I've arrived early. Immediately, through direct eye-interaction from those in the mall, I've already been singled out as a child-abducting pervert. I'm the only one here without a baby. Just a grown man, alone, taking in a beautiful baby contest on a scorching hot Saturday morning, thank you."
A space in the text as Leon ponders this situation.
And then: "You really stand out without a baby. I should've brought one."
Leon has of course been compared with the likes of other infiltrators like Tom Green and Michael Moore, and though he does share similarities with those entertainers, the skill and pace of his storytelling places him in a slightly different field.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

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