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Viva la Repartee: Clever Comebacks and Witty Retorts from History's Great Wits and Wordsmiths Hardcover – Bargain Price, November 1, 2005


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--This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Collins; 7th ptg edition (November 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060789484
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060789480
  • ASIN: B0013L2EL8
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 5.9 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #879,331 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Mardy Grothe’s exquisite collection of retorts, ripostes, and rebuffs celebrates language in its most clever, precise, and hilarious form.” (-- Richard Lederer, author of Anguished English)

“If words could be weapons, this book is a collection of weapons of mass delectation.” (-- Anu Garg, author of Another Word A Day)

“It’s a must for anyone who loves a quick word from a quick wit.” (-- Erin McKean, editor of Verbatim: The Language Quarterly)

“A glittering display of comebacks and put-downs from the funniest people on earth.” (-- Robert Byrne, compiler of The 2,548 Best Things Anybody Ever Said)

“Viva La Repartee is a spectacular feast of the most brilliant retorts and wittiest zingers ever delivered.” (-- Don Hauptman, author of Cruel and Unusual Puns and Acronymania)

“A joyously fun compendium of wit and one-upmanship by the world’s great riposte artists....A brilliant stocking stuffer.” (Forbes FYI)

“If you’ve ever delivered a razor-sharp riposte or rebuff...you’ll savor this collection.” (Hartford Courant)

“Ever wish you could wow people with your wit? Viva la Repartee, by Mardy Grothe, tells you how. ” (Dallas Morning News) --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Dr. Mardy Grothe is a psychologist, management consultant, and public speaker. He is the author of five previous word-and-language books: I Never Metaphor I Didn't Like, Viva la Repartee, Oxymoronica, Ifferisms, and Never Let a Fool Kiss You or a Kiss Fool You. A lifelong quotation collector, Dr. Mardy—as he is known to his fans around the globe—is routinely described as a "quotation maven" and is well on his way to becoming America's most popular quotation anthologist. He lives with his wife, Katherine Robinson, in North Carolina.

--This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

Dr. Mardy Grothe is a psychologist, management consultant, marriage counselor, and public speaker. He is the author of six "word & language" books: "Ifferisms," "I Never Metaphor I Didn't Like," "Viva la Repartee," "Oxymoronica," "Never Let a Fool Kiss You or a Kiss Fool You," and "Neverisms" (published in May, 2011). A lifelong quotation collector, Dr. Mardy--as he is known to his fans around the globe--is routinely described as a "quotation maven" and is well on his way to becoming America's most popular quotation anthologist. He lives with his wife, Katherine Robinson, in Southern Pines, North Carolina.

Customer Reviews

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Amusing book to keep by your favorite reading chair.
J. andriechack
_Viva la Repartee: Clever Comebacks and Witty Retorts from History's Great Wits and Wordsmiths_ by Dr. Mardy Grothe celebrates the art of the ingenious reply.
F. Hamilton
I enthusiastically recommend this book for lovers of words and wit.
Sean X. Li

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

93 of 94 people found the following review helpful By Robert Morris HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 1, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Those who have already read Grothe's Oxymoronica will thoroughly enjoy this volume in which he shifts his attention from "paradoxical wit and wisdom from history's greatest wordsmiths" to "clever comebacks & witty retorts from history's great wits & wordsmiths." Not surprisingly and in fact inevitably, many of the same wordsmiths are represented in both volumes, notably Robert C. Benchley, Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain), Winston Churchill, W.C. Fields, Dorothy Parker, and Oscar Wilde.

In his introduction, Grothe defines two terms which certainly apply to the selections which follow: citing the OED, a retort is "a sharp or incisive reply, especially one by which the first speaker's statement or argument is in some way turned against himself" and repartee is "1. A ready, witty, or smart reply; a quick and clever retort" and "2. Sharpness or wit in sudden reply; such replies collectively; the practice or faculty of uttering them." With great skill, Grothe creates a context within which each selection is the response. Here are four examples:

During a noted opera singer's "perfectly dreadful performance," one of the guests leaned over and whispered in President Calvin Coolidge's ear, "What do you think of the singer's execution?" to which Coolidge replied, "I'm all for it."

Shortly before his death, W.C. Fields (a lifelong agnostic) was visited by a friend who was astonished when he entered the hospital room. "What are you doing reading a Bible?" to which Fields responded "I'm looking for loopholes."

After losing the Republican presidential nomination to George H.W. Bush, Robert Dole was asked by a reporter how he felt. "Contrary to reports that I took the loss badly, I slept like a baby -- every two hours I woke up and cried.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Jerry Saperstein HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 2, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Whether for personal entertainment or plagarizing --- I mean, researching --- "memorable retorts, ripostes, combacks, quips, ad-libs, bon mots, off-the-cuff comments, wisecracks and other clever remarks," you'll find "Viva la Repartee" an invaluable source. Dr. Grothe has done considerable research of his or her own and assembled quite a collection.

Far more than once, I found myself spontaneously laughing at some of the clever wit on display in this relatively thin book. Dr. Mardy's commentary is also not only insightful, but amusing as well.

Put some brightness in your day and get this book. And if you're a writer of any kind, definitely get this book: it is a rich resource.

Jerry
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Bart King on May 27, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Much as overindulgence on bon-bons can lead to deleterious effects, so can feasting on too many bon mots. After staying up late and stuffing myself on the witticisms of George Bernard Shaw, Dorothy Parker, and company, I found myself looking for any angle to slip in a quip. And after reading this amusing and well-researched book, I am loaded with ammo.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Mark T. Shaffer on February 18, 2006
Format: Hardcover
The format of this book is patterned after Isaac Asimov's Treasury of Humor, a short paragraph establishing a joke or anecdote with the punchline indented below in bold face. Unfortunately, most of the anecdotes also seem to be borrowed from Asimov's treasury as well as its sequel, Asimov Laughs Again, and Dr. Grothe almost uniformly chooses the most well-known, least amusing witticisms for his book. Added to this fact is Dr. Grothe's tendency to talk down to his readers and laboriously explain why a joke is funny. Bill Watterson wrote once that the essence of humor is surprise, and there are very few surprises in Viva La Repartee.
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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful By A. Lenhart on November 8, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Viva La Repartee is one of the most strangely crafted books that I have ever encountered. The prose in the Introduction, and to a lesser extent each of the individual chapter introductions, is very clunky with strange segways and poor organization. The author's use of the first person combined with the textbook/vocabulary lesson feel of the introductions (including a ridiculous textbook-style excercise in the Introduction) is extremely grating. There are far too many definitions (straight from the OED and other dictionaries) and at least one is repeated, verbatim, in a subsequent chapter. The author even defines the word classic. How stupid must he believe me, and the rest of his audience, to be? In Chapter 1, the author includes a self-aggrandizing anecdote about watching Frasier with his wife that seems to have no purpose other than serving as a demonstration of the author's intelligence. It was appalling, insultingly condescending, and arrogant, thus serving as a short demonstration of all that is wrong with the author's overall style.

That being said, the anecdotes that make up the bulk of the work are, for the most part, extremely well-written and enjoyable to read. They are succinct, interesting, and well-formulated. I wish I could say the same for the rest of the book.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By F. Hamilton on November 16, 2005
Format: Hardcover
_Viva la Repartee: Clever Comebacks and Witty Retorts from History's Great Wits and Wordsmiths_ by Dr. Mardy Grothe celebrates the art of the ingenious reply. Grothe distinguishes between various kinds of witty comments -- for example, the retort, which is a response to an insult, and a quip, which is a clever remark prompted by a situation.

In _Viva la Repartee_ Grothe follows the format that served him well in his previous books, _Never Let a Fool Kiss You or a Kiss Fool You_ and _Oxymoronica_. He begins each chapter with a discussion of that chapter's theme illustrated by a few examples. Then he provides additional examples without discussion. Themes include repartee in the following areas: stage and screen, literature (one chapter being devoted to the Algonquin Round Table), politics, relationships, senior citizens, and sports. Other chapters feature chiasmus and oxymoron, the literary devices celebrated in Grothe's earlier books. The ultimate example of laconic repartee, in the chapter with that theme, is an exchange of telegrams, each consisting solely of one punctuation mark.

The gems in Grothe's earlier books could stand alone as brief quotations -- often no more than a sentence. However, in order to appreciate a reply, one must know the words and the situation that prompted it. _Viva la Repartee_, then, is a collection of anecdotes. Grothe masterfully crafts the set-ups for his rejoinders. In taut prose that could well serve as models for aspiring writers, he provides the details of time, place, and circumstance.

Most of the remarks featured in _Viva la Repartee_ were uttered by celebrities. Grothe's collection, which includes a helpful index of names, gives us personal glimpses that bring these people to life for us.
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