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Is Sex Necessary?: Or Why You Feel the Way You Do Paperback – November 9, 2004
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From the Publisher
About the Author
James Thurber was born in Columbus, Ohio, in 1894. Famous for his humorous writings and illustrations, he was a staff member of The New Yorker for more than thirty years. He died in 1961.
E. B. White, the author of such beloved classics as Charlotte's Web, Stuart Little, and The Trumpet of the Swan, was born in Mount Vernon, New York. He graduated from Cornell University in 1921 and, five or six years later, joined the staff of The New Yorker magazine, then in its infancy. He died on October 1, 1985, and was survived by his son and three grandchildren.
Mr. White's essays have appeared in Harper's magazine, and some of his other books are: One Man's Meat, The Second Tree from the Corner, Letters of E. B. White, Essays of E. B. White, and Poems and Sketches of E. B. White. He won countless awards, including the 1971 National Medal for Literature and the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, which commended him for making a "substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children."
During his lifetime, many young readers asked Mr. White if his stories were true. In a letter written to be sent to his fans, he answered, "No, they are imaginary tales . . . But real life is only one kind of life—there is also the life of the imagination."
Top Customer Reviews
The combination of the two in this book is a rather uniquely bizarre experience that I found joyously uplifting.
The subject under discussion is indeed, in a rather obscure and indirect sense, sex. But we never *quite* seem to get there; non sequiturs abound, blank pages, discussions of how to avoid sex, bluebirds, flowers, a section on how children should explain sex to adults, and even a "letters from readers" chapter--but no actual sex. Lots of drawings, but nothing that anyone might find helpful for improving their sex life. (Bowling, yes. Bicycling, definitely. Obscure interpretations of unconscious artwork, absolutely. Sex, no.)
This book wasn't so much a reaction to Freud per se as it was to the wacky influx of psychologists and "sexologists", and their (unfortunately for us, entirely successful) attempts to complexify and obfuscate human behavior. This particular brand of snake oil started in the 20s and hasn't stopped flowing, and we're covered in an ever-growing deluge of how-to relationship manuals, self-help books, and other ludicrous efforts at explaining "the human condition".
White and Thurber's work explains, in the main, nothing. It asks more questions than it answers. The humor is dry and obscure, there are a ton of rather dated references, and if you're under 30 you'll probably need a dictionary. But...
if you need a laugh without a laugh track...Read more ›
"From 1800 to 1900...love & marriage & children stood for progress, & progress is - or was - a calm, routine business. `Mrs. Hopkins,' a man would say to the lady of his choice...'Mrs. Hopkins, I am thinking...you & I should get married & have offspring. They are about to build the Union Pacific [railroad], you know, & they will need men.' Because parents can't always have men-children when they want them, this led to almost as many women as men working on the Union Pacific, which in turn led to the greater stature of women in the present Northwest than in any other part of the nation. But that is somewhat beside the point."
"Paranoia: The last stages of what was once a bridegroom."
ISN produced laughter of a sort never experienced before. Having already read a great deal of what E.B. White & James Thurber had written, this was almost unimaginable. But it is true.
The humor is so ethereal, the puns are so subtle, & the writing touch - satiric as it is - is so light, it's almost as if Harper had produced a fragile literary crème brûlée. To react too abruptly to its "flavor" is to endanger the very spell woven by these "quiet" but very creative authors. Skate lightly.
It's been eighty-two years since first publication & the humor still holds up. Given that the "shelf life" of written humor is so notoriously fragile, this places ISN in the ranks of the classics at the same time that you're just having fun reading it. Can't beat that.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Hilarious book, written in the 1920's. Very tongue in cheek. James Thurber teams up with E.B. White. They had fun writing this. A great read.Published 2 months ago by Chloe
1928 offers a better vocabulary than today -- and a sharper wit.Published 10 months ago by DortPark
Funny, short, and persuasive. A great Thurber read. (He's the guy who wrote the short story "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty," but don't blame him for the mess of a film... Read morePublished 22 months ago by Joel Kugelmass
What a shame this job was given to Queens House!
The story is terrific, but the pages are tangled, full of spelling mistakes, badly put together. Read more
With the combination of Thurber and EB White writing together, you have to expect satire at its best. This is fun!Published on February 15, 2014 by Mem Reader
If I had been aware of the culture of James Thurber's day it would have been of greater interest. The chapters I did comprehend were really funny. He is a good writer.Published on January 16, 2014 by Robert J. Steckert