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Without Feathers Mass Market Paperback – February 12, 1986


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; Ballantine Books ed edition (February 12, 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345336976
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345336972
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.6 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #56,273 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The title of Woody Allen's second collection of New Yorker-style sprint humor is a sly comment on Emily Dickinson's famous quote, "Hope is the thing with feathers." Without Feathers delivers Allen's hopeless schlub persona--you remember, what he used to be before he was either a lecher or an auteur, depending on your politics. In addition to being as funny as anything published since, to read Without Feathers is to return to a simpler time, when being a fan of his work was common, not controversial.

Though each piece is funny, two of them are particularly notable examples of Allen's distinctive style (borrowed in large part from S.J. Perelman by way of the Borscht Belt, but distinctive, nevertheless)--"The Whore of Mensa" and "If the Impressionists Had Been Dentists." Here's an excerpt from the latter:

Mrs. Sol Schwimmer is suing me because I made her bridge as I felt it and not to fit her ridiculous mouth! That's right! I can't work to order like a common tradesman! I decided her bridge should be enormous and billowing, with wild, explosive teeth flaring up in every direction like fire! Now she is upset because it won't fit in her mouth! She is so bourgeois and stupid, I want to smash her! I tried forcing the false plate in but it sticks out like a star burst chandelier.
Without Feathers is fine, funny prose, from an American master. If you're a fan, seek it out immediately. It's a document from the days when Woody was not important, but merely hysterically funny. --Michael Gerber

From the Inside Flap

Here they are--some of the funniest tales and ruminations ever put into print, by one of the great comic minds of our time. From THE WHORE OF MENSA, to GOD (A Play), to NO KADDISH FOR WEINSTEIN, old and new Woody Allen fans will laugh themselves hysterical over these sparkling gems.

Customer Reviews

This is a book to make you laugh out loud.
Maria Savva
I would say that this classifies the 18 different essays contained within this book to a tee with most of them landing in the "good" category.
Thor Vader
It is profoundly funny and it's a book I read over and over again, especially when I need cheering!
7K64

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Thor Vader on June 24, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Without Feathers is good vintage Woody Allen writing. Interestingly, the breadth of essays contained in this book are a lot like his movies... there are great ones, there are good ones, and there are bad ones. I would say that this classifies the 18 different essays contained within this book to a tee with most of them landing in the "good" category. I've read all of his books, and I would say the most classic Woody Allen essay's are in Getting Even. I would recommend that anyone interested in reading a Allen book go there first, and then come to this one if they like it (plus it is in chronological order that way).
Perhaps the best thing about this book was not the essays but rather the two plays that were contained within. The play Death is hilarious, and ultimately was made into one of Woody Allen's films. This play gives an insight into how he writes primarily dialogue and very little description. Additionally, the play God was also very funny. The purchase is worth it to see the contrast between how Allen writes essays versus how he writes screenplays. The essays were good (not all that laugh out loud funny), but the plays were excellent.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By LZ-1 on July 7, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"Without Feathers" was Woody Allen's second collection of humorous pieces, and probably his best. These originally appeared in the early 1970's, in magazines like "The New Yorker" and "The New Republic."
Some are short stories, like "No Kaddish for Weinstein" and "The Whore of Mensa." There are two plays, "Death" (the inspiration for Allen's "Shadows and Fog"), and the much better "God", a masterpiece of absurdity.
There are parodies of Encyclopedia Brown ("Match Wits with Inspector Ford") and Henrik Ibsen (the hysterical "Lovborg's Women Considered"), irreverent essays on English literature and civil disobedience, reviews of some very bizarre ballets, and more.
"Without Feathers" is fantastic and, as a bonus, much less expensive than many inferior humor books.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 17, 1997
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I love books, and I try my best to take care of them, but I failed miserably with my copy of "Without Feathers". Woody Allen's short masterpiece was so sadistically funny that I couldn't control my bodily functions... initial chortles soon gave way to sprays of guffawing spitall and drenching tears of laughter. By the time I'd finished, the paperback was reduced to a soaking mess of sidesplitting slobber.

It's the kind of book that, years later, you suddenly remember a particularly poignant passage, and you erupt into uncontrollable giggles, much to the bemusement of those around you.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By the4913@mindspring.com on March 6, 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Woody is at it again. This book is great comedy in Allen's usual, older style. After reading it, I FORCED friends to read it so I would have someone to discuss it with. I often read while riding the metro, and often had spectators by the end of a ride, while reading this book. They were wondering why I was laughing out loud. I am buying Allen's other books immediately...
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By sseale on August 28, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I was recommended this book because of the play "Death." I found the two plays to be much funnier than some of the short stories and essays. The short stories are written in the older style of Allen's humor. They are funny because Allen is constantly using unexpected silly plot twists. I found these silly twists to be a bit much at times. However, if you like his older movies then you will probably like the way he writes the short stories. The plays were, I thought, much more clever. They were still silly (of course) but they had more continuity than the short stories. In addition the unexpected still occurred frequently but it seems more in context, in the plays.
Regardless, this book is very funny and if you like Allen's movies, then you'll definitely find this book funny as well.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Reader on November 12, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Comedy legend Buster Keaton was hilarious because he had mastered the art of deadpan. His face was set in a permanently sad expression, which only made his antics and predicaments all the funnier. He never let on that he was being funny; and that makes the audience laugh all the harder.
Imagine being able to create the same effect in the written word. Woody Allen has been able to do precisely that. He never lets the reader know that the punch line is coming, so it hits the funny bone with full force. His book Without Feathers should never be read in polite company, since it causes the reader to break into hysterical peals of laughter that cannot be stopped.
I was rendered helpless while reading his material: "Do I believe in God? I did until Mother's accident. She fell on some meat loaf, and it penetrated her spleen. She lay in a coma for months, unable to do anything but sing "Granada" to an imaginary herring. Why was this woman in the prime of life so afflicted - because in her youth she dared to defy convention and got married with a brown paper bag on her head? And how can I believe in God when just last week I got my tongue caught in the roller of an electric typewriter? I am plagued by doubts. What if everything is an illusion and nothing exists? In that case, I definitely overpaid for my carpet. If only God would give me some clear sign! Like making a large deposit in my name at a Swiss bank."
Without Feathers was a bestseller in the early seventies, but it is about time a younger audience learns of this book. Don't miss the short stories of "The Whore of Mensa" and "If the Impressionists Had Been Dentists". And for heaven's sake, try not to eat or drink while you read it, or you will be laughing substances out of your nose.
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