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The Thurber Carnival Paperback – November 19, 2013


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

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial Modern Classics; 1St Edition edition (November 19, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060932872
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060932879
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #62,108 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

After the chuckles and amidst the chortles, the first-time reader of The Thurber Carnival is bound to utter a discreetly voiced "Huh?" Like Cracker Jacks, there are surprises inside James Thurber's delicious 1945 smorgasbord of essays, stories, and sketches. This festival is, surprises and all, a collection of earlier collections (mostly), including, among others, gems from My World--and Welcome to It, Let Your Mind Alone!, and The Middle Aged Man on the Flying Trapeze. Needless to say, there are also numerous cartoons that, by themselves, are worth the price of admission. While redoubling Thurber's deserved reputation as a laugh-out-loud humorist and teller-of-gentle-tales, it reintroduces him as a thinker-of-thoughts. To wit: his 1933 "Preface to a Life," in which he observes himself while discussing "writers of light pieces running from a thousand to two thousand words":
To call such persons "humorists," a loose-fitting and ugly word, is to miss the nature of their dilemma and the dilemma of their nature. The little wheels of their invention are set in motion by the damp hand of melancholy.
Enjoy the surprises, certainly, but revel in the candy-coated popcorn and peanuts. As in "More Alarms at Night," in which a teenaged Thurber intrudes upon his sleeping father, a skittish man named Charles, because he can't recall the name Perth Amboy, New Jersey. Coincidentally, his father has just been frightened half to death by Thurber's brother, who had earlier stalked into his room saying coldly, "Buck, your time has come."
"Listen," I said. "Name some towns in New Jersey quick!" It must have been around three in the morning. Father got up, keeping the bed between him and me, and started to pull his trousers on. "Don't bother about dressing," I said. "Just name some towns in New Jersey." While he hastily pulled on his clothes--I remember he left his socks off and put his shoes on his bare feet--father began to name, in a shaky voice, various New Jersey cities. I can still see him reaching for his coat without taking his eyes off me. "Newark," he said, "Jersey City, Atlantic City, Elizabeth, Paterson, Passaic, Trenton, Jersey City, Trenton, Paterson--" "It has two names," I snapped. "Elizabeth and Paterson," he said.
Of course, things turn out fine, as well they should. And why not? The best of Thurber, which The Thurber Carnival arguably is, is sublime; surprising insight and wry observations tossed lightly and served constantly with effortless good humor and an obvious love for all things gently eccentric. --Michael Hudson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"One of the absolutely essential books of our time." -- Saturday Review of Literature

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

Laugh out loud funny, much of it (Quick!
Henrietta Rickenburg
That been said, Thurber is a fantastic writer, with great humor, and penetrating insight.
Amazon Customer
I love this book so much I bought a second copy for my son.
Carl F. Day

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

47 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Miles D. Moore TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 15, 2001
Format: Hardcover
"The Thurber Carnival" was a beloved companion of my early youth; I laughed out loud again and again at the stories of "My Life and Hard Times," the hilarious "Fables for Our Time," "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty," and other classics. What was really important to me about Thurber was that he came from the same part of Ohio that I did, and actually had had relatives and attended family reunions in Sugar Grove, Ohio, where I grew up. That meant all the world to me, because it showed me that someone who had ties to Sugar Grove could be a famous writer. Now, I love Thurber's work more than ever; as an adult, I can better appreciate the nuances of a story like "The Catbird Seat." Thurber's work is a precise, funny, yet deeply serious portrait of an America which had just recently completed the transition from a frontier to an urban society. Women, having just won the right to vote, were flexing new-found muscles; men, divorced from the need to wrest a living from the soil, felt suddenly unmoored and emasculated; a new breed of self-help authors arose to make a quick buck from the newly uncertain populace; and oceans of alcohol fueled the newly stirred resentments between the sexes.Thurber recorded it all, in a prose style as elegant and lucid as any in the history of American literature. "The Catbird Seat," "Fables for Our Time" and the self-help parodies of "Let Your Mind Alone!" are every bit as fresh and pertinent as when Thurber wrote them 60-odd years ago. Unfortunately, some aspects of his work--most glaringly his portrayal of African-Americans--have not stood up so well. But one can only say of Thurber what the Duc de Saint-Simon said of Louis XIV: "His virtues were his own, his faults were his times'." The best of James Thurber ranks with the best of Mark Twain, Ring Lardner, Woody Allen and any other American humorist you can name.
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful By S. GODFREY on March 12, 2001
Format: Paperback
A few years back I used to travel to work (some 15 miles) by bus. As is the custom with commuters just about everywhere, my fellow travellers and I seldom spoke..a nod and a half-smile would be about as much communication as we managed. One morning I unwisely picked up a copy of "The Thurber Carnival" to while away the time on the journey: unwise because about halfway through "Travels With Olympy" I let out such an unrestrained hoot of laughter that I startled myself and everyone else on the bus. For a moment it seemed that the driver was about to stop and come back to check on the commotion. Things got back to normal, however....but I couldn't help noticing a few puzzled looks in my direction when I found myself choking back the tears while reading about Thurber's dog Rex: I don't even like dogs much, but such is the punch of Thurber's writing that I was howling my eyes out over the demise of this pooch. As the passengers were getting off the bus one kindly lady stopped by my seat and asked what I had been reading. The next day I got it into my head to buy a bicycle and started cycling to work each day. I recall one morning as the bus hurtled past me, seeing the kindly lady reading a book and smiling...I can't be sure, but I like to think it was the Thurber Carnival. These days I drive to work.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Fred Wemyss (Actual Name) on October 31, 2002
Format: Paperback
THE THURBER CARNIVAL is an excellent collection if only because it contains the complete MY LIFE AND HARD TIMES. In the early seventies, when my grandmother gave me a respectful and wonderfully brief biography called THE CLOCKS OF COLUMBUS, I became a THURBER fan. I was in Junior High and Thurber, dead more than ten years already, was enjoying something of a vogue. Most of his books were back in print. Today, we're down to about a third or less of what he wrote. The Library of America's collection looks fairly complete, but THE THURBER CARNIVAL was his own selection of greatest hits, if you will. In both cases I miss the separate volumes from which these stories and cartoons are culled. If there are concept albums, Thurber had concept collections. You don't get the sense of a Beatles album listening to bits from different albums. This is true with Thurber. You need all of LET YOUR MIND ALONE, which you can only get used now. You need all of THE MIDDLE-AGED MAN ON THE FLYING TRAPEZE; his most representative collection.
He tried writing a novel once or twice, but found he could only write short stories. This bothered him. The chief thing to remember as you read him is that he was deeply ashamed of being a humorist. His literary hero was Henry James. During Thurber's time at the New Yorker (and he arrived there about a year after its founding, staying until his death more than three decades later) the magazine was a showcase for humorists. Think of the original cast of Saturday Night Live and you'll have something of an idea of the atmosphere at the magazine in its first ten years or so. Competitive humorists travelled from all over the United States to work for THE NEW YORKER. The Algonquin Roundtable was largely a haven for NEW YORKER staffers. James Thurber learned from E. B.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Wendy Kaplan on November 24, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I grew up with this book. First published in the mid-40s, it lived in the center of a built-in bookcase over my father's desk in the family room, and I was drawn to it time and time again during my childhood.
At first, I was convulsed by Thurber's uniquely hilarious cartoons. His dogs and his women are priceless...drawn in a style that nobody has ever been able to duplicate or capture.
It was only later, as I grew older, that I could appreciate Thurber's written humor. The "Thurber Carnival" (and it is) is a compilation of essays and excerpts from "My World--and Welcome to It," "The Middle Aged Man on the Flying Trapeze," and others. These were Thurber's earlier works that were very much a product of their times, but oh, so funny! Thurber was one of the great commentators on the vagaries of everyday life. Along with Robert Benchly et al., he set the tone for an entire generation. I still have this book, and I absolutely cherish it. It's hard to do Thurber justice in a review. All I can say is--buy this book and wallow in it. You'll be glad you did.
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