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Side Effects Mass Market Paperback – September 12, 1986
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[I]n 1822 Goethe himself notes a strange celestial phenomenon. "En route home from the Leipzig Anxiety Festival," he wrote, "I was crossing a meadow, when I chanced to look up and saw several fiery red balls suddenly appear in the southern sky. They descended at a great rate of speed and began chasing me. I screamed that I was a genius and consequently could not run very fast, but my words were wasted. I became enraged and shouted imprecations at them, whereupon they flew away frightened. I related this story to Beethoven, not realizing he had already gone deaf, and he smiled and nodded and said, "Right."Though not as explosively, mind-alteringly funny as his earlier books, Side Effects is still loaded with chuckles; the much-anthologized "Kugelmass Episode" is worth the price of the book. For fans of his films--or for anyone who wants a final glimpse of Woody in his first, best role as court jester, Side Effects is a must-have. --Michael Gerber
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Top Customer Reviews
The first piece, "Remembering Needleman," is a satirical take off on scholarly obituaries. Only Woody Allen would think of bringing marshmallows to a cremation and to donate the ashes to a university for research.
"The Condemned" takes a humorous look at Elie Weisel's Dawn where a man must decide whether to kill a truly evil person.
"By Destiny Denied" is 7 pages of notes for an 800 page novel that was never meant to be written.
"The UFO Menace" is Allen's take on the existence of UFOs.
"My Apology" puts Woody Allen in Socrates' place as he faces death by hemlock.
In "The Kugelmass Episode" the protagonist finds a magic way to cheat on his wife by going back in literature to have an affair with Emma Bovary.
In "My Speech to the Graduates" we find Allen's philosophy most succinctly spelled out: "We are a people who lack definite goals. We have never learned to love. We lack leaders and coherent programs. We have no spiritual center. We are adrift alone in the cosmos wreaking monstrous violence on one another out of frustration and pain. Fortunately, we have not lost our sense of proportion."
"The Diet" explores the insecurities often associated with working in corporate America. A person only identified as F. deals with his work problems by taking control of the only thing he can - his food intake.Read more ›
That said, Woody Allen's humor is extremely self-absorbed, and his obsession with young pubescent women is down-right creepy (especially given what we know about his private life). I loved the first few essays, but soon enough reading Allen became like a chore.
Those strictly seeking laughs from a master will find them in one-act playlets like "The Query" and "My Apology" and in vignettes like "Reminisces: Places and People." Each focusing on death, they underline Carol Burnett's observation "Comedy is tragedy plus time." (Alan Alda recited this line as a smarmy TV personality in Allen's 1990 "Crimes and Misdermeanors.") But Allen also unintentionally, tragicomically mixes asides and references to fallen icons like OJ Simpson, the World Trade Center (constant symbol of size here) and even Igor Stravinsky (an allegory for sophistication and complexity.)
Yet Allen maintains his unparalleled character detail and nuance even in this short format (Few stories are more than six pages and are easily readable at one sitting.) You come to care for the TV producer who consoles a friend and eyes a nurse in "The Shallowest Man." You feel a painful twinge at the father-son dialogue closing the otherwise nonsensical "The Diet." You also sense the balding, hairy Kugelmass' giddy joy as he romances Emma Bovary and changes literature in "Kugelmass Episode." (Few main male characters in Allen's stories here are as attractive as the women they pursue.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book fairly illustrates, I think, the difference between an artist that can write comedy
vs. the observational comedians of today. Read more
It’s been six months since the Connollys’ father took off and never came back. And now they are all falling apart. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Holly Scudero
I am a huge fan of this man's thoughts, thought process, or musings, so my review is perhaps more than a little biased. In this review I am also including several of Mr. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Sergiu Pobereznic (author)
This book is much worse than the author's other books. I loved "Secrets of my Holllywood life" and "Sleepaway Girls" is the best book I read all year, but this book... Read morePublished 16 months ago by Big Reader
Deeply unfunny. You remember that kid back in school that was never ever funny? Well he wrote a book.Published 16 months ago by D. Anderson
Oh Woody. You are so funny. This book put me in stitches. You will find yourself laughing out loud.Published 19 months ago by Monica
My main problem was the narrator Woody Allen who is also the author. He did not pause enough. When I was having a laugh or thoughtful reaction, he sped onto the next item. Read morePublished on June 15, 2014 by Jane