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Dispatches from the Tenth Circle: The Best of The Onion Paperback – September 4, 2001

4.7 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Dave Eggers, Matt Groening, Ken Burns, and Conan O'Brien agree: The Onion, that scrappy mag ruthlessly satirizing madcap modern life and earnest newspaper journalism, is funnier than reality. Dispatches from the Tenth Circle: The Best of the Onion carries on the proud, shameless tradition of Our Dumb Century, which won the 1999 Thurber Prize for American Humor. If a real, dumb newspaper wrote a feature story about hell, you bet its headline would be the boosterish one imagined by the maniacs at the Onion: "Tenth Circle Added to Rapidly Growing Hell." When one reads in this book the headline "Arabs, Israelis Sign 'Screw Peace' Accord," one wonders whether The Onion has not, alas, anticipated the news. Their style of yuks is not for softies: the headline "Loved Ones Recall Local Man's Cowardly Battle with Cancer" may not strike the funny bone of the recently bereaved, but it's a dead-on parody of the sort of sentimental slop that cops major journalism awards in our dumb news era. If you can laugh at the preposterous world around you, and muster the courage to tear down without building up, this book is for you.

From Publishers Weekly

Siegel, who began writing for the Onion in 1995 at age 23, became the satirical publication's editor by 1996, grabbing readers with such headlines as "Dolphins Evolve Opposable Thumbs," "Lutheran Minister Loves to Fuck His Wife" and "C-SPAN Releases Too Hot for C-SPAN! Video." With a surfeit of social/cultural commentary subtexts, some savage, the Onion has more layers than one might think. This collection offers thoroughly entertaining stuff like "Nation's Last Themeless Restaurant Closes" and "New Study Too Frightening to Release." Launched in 1988 as a free weekly for University of Wisconsin dorms, the nutty newspaper now has a circulation of 300,000, proclaiming itself "America's finest news source" and "the world's most popular humor periodical." Perhaps they get away with this because their first book, Our Dumb Century, winner of the 2001 Thurber Prize for American Humor, was a New York Times bestseller. To ignite future projects, the editorial staff left Wisconsin last January to open a New York office, but they didn't lose their sense of humor in the transition, as evidenced by the hilarity here, such as "Fanzine Marred by Typo" and "New Starbucks Opens in Rest Room of Existing Starbucks." Some pieces are short ("Ritalin Cures Next Picasso"), some long, and this collection, with more than 500 b&w photos, illustrations, charts and maps, garners genuine guffaws. No matter how you slice it, the Onion has appeal. (Sept. 4)Forecast: National marketing includes 16-copy floor displays and ads in alternative weeklies and college newspapers, plus a 20-city morning radio campaign. Since the Onion paid PW the highest compliment by parodying Show Daily at BEA, we must return the favor and admit that these nutballs probably have another bestseller on their hands.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Three Rivers Press; 1 edition (September 4, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0609808346
  • ISBN-13: 978-0609808344
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 0.6 x 10.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #449,928 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By doomsdayer520 HALL OF FAME on September 19, 2001
Format: Paperback
While just about every single word in this volume is reprinted from the weekly editions on The Onion's website, you still gotta love this book which you can take anywhere, and make people wonder while you're laughing so hard. Most people think The Onion is merely a political satire and humor magazine, but the way they make fun of current events is surprisingly deep and the dark, observational humor is often ingenious and even disturbing.
Headlines of note in this book are "ACLU Defends Nazis' Right to Burn Down ACLU Headquarters" in which The Onion finds the contradications in so-called political correctness (lest you think The Onion is all bleeding-heart leftists); "Columbine Jocks Safely Resume Bullying" in which The Onion can see the uncomfortable truth that nobody else wants to admit to; and "Hershey's Ordered to Pay Obese Americans $135 Billion" where we can see the irony and hypocrisy in lawsuits that people use to blame others for their problems.
To alleviate the heaviness, many of the articles are just plain slapstick humor, but always with an intelligent edge, like "Dolphins Evolve Opposable Thumbs", or "Casual One-Nighter Gives Strom Thurmond Change of Heart on Homosexuality Issue."
Whether the stories are just lightweight social satire, or downright disturbing and deeply insightful, they're mostly hysterical in the true Onion tradition. Even the pieces by the "guest columnists" can be deeper than expected. But in light of recent events, watch out for the stories "Terrorist Annoyed by Delayed Flight" and "Arabs, Israelis Sign 'Screw Piece' Accord". Some of this humor isn't for the easily disturbed or offended, that's for sure.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As I was reading the weekly issue of The Onion on their website a month ago, I saw this new book advertised. I've bought their first two books, so I picked it up on ... a little after it came out, and finished reading it yesterday. Unfortunately, we have another case of sequelitis here...
Don't get me wrong, this is a great book, but it's not as quite good as the original. However, it still contains tons of laugh-out-loud, tell-all-your-friends humor that will keep you occupied for hours. For those of you who aren't familiar with the Onion, imagine if South Park and SNL teamed up to write a newspaper with such articles as "Fox Defends Airing of 'When Jews Attack'" and "Fun Toy Banned Because of Three Stupid Dead Kids." These make for hilarious reading, but not if you're offended by (lots of) swearing.
So if you enjoy The Onion, yes, definitely buy this book, it's well worth it; but if you're new to the publication, let me direct you to "The Onion's Finest News Reporting" before you get this one.
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Format: Paperback
There has, on occasion, been criticism leveled at American humour from us Brits across the pond on the grounds that the US has no grasp of irony. Well, the Onion firmly blows that notion out of the water. Gut-wrenchingly funny, dark as the midnight sky and sharp as a surgeons scalpel I have yet to come across a book so packed with top level merriment. What really sets the Onion apart from all other satirical publications is the incisiveness of its observational comedy: "World Death Rate Steady at 100 percent"; "Aspirin Taken Daily With Bottle Of Bourbon Reduces Awareness Of Heart Attacks". The point-blank absurdity of humanity is exposed again and again with a quality and consistency unsurpassed. The Onion is more than able to cut open the deepest, most banal and ridiculous behaviour of our species and leave the entrails hanging out on display for all to see. "Students Prepare Breasts For Increased Springtime Display". See? In this respect it stands alone: I am a fan of both The Simpsons and Larry Sanders TV shows but this book takes satire to a new level. For those readers not accustomed with US tabloid-style newspaper reporting some feature styles may be unfamiliar......but what the hell. Buy it anyway. In more enlightened moments I like to think that the human race will save itself from destruction only by eschewing all traditional news journalism across the globe in favour of this: the greatest media reporting ever committed to print. "New Starbucks Opens In Rest Room Of Existing Starbucks". Sheer genius.
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Format: Paperback
The problem with satire is that the person writing it frequently has an axe to grind. As a result, it will inevitably be offensive, and hence unappreciated, by a significant portion of the population. The Onion has rather ingeniously avoided by this conundrum by mocking everyone and everything. I don't care what group you choose to affiliate yourself with, you're not human if you aren't laughing out loud, with tears streaming down your face, by the third page of "Dispatches from the Tenth Circle".
What the brilliant "Our Dumb Century" did for the 1900's, so too does this book for current events. Through the medium of newspaper "articles", political leaders, musicians, actors, sports heroes, popular culture, etc. are lampooned with brutal accuracy. Most amazing is that in a book that contains literally hundreds of articles, almost all of the entries are remarkably literate. I can only describe them by suggesting that the reader imagine what it would be like if Dennis Miller edited the New York Times. Even when the humor turns lowbrow, as it sometimes does, it is so matter of fact that one can't help but laugh. There's no pretense, no embarrassment, just a deadpan delivery of frequently surreal material.
This book is not for the easily offended, so if you hold your views and idols sacrosanct, skip this one. However, is you can stand to have that which you hold most dear skewered, and laugh about it, you will not regret purchasing this book. In fact I think former VP Al Gore's (I'm a registered Republican, so you can see what strange bed-fellows this book can make) statement on the back cover puts it best: "This publication is destructive to our shared values. Read it yourself and you'll see what I mean. Seriously, what else could make me laugh - much less laugh uproariously - while being offended week after week.?"
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