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Spy: The Funny Years Hardcover – October 25, 2006
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover," illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Learn more
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From Publishers Weekly
With equal parts nostalgia and snarkiness, this history /anthology celebrates the now legendary satirical magazine during its heyday—aka 1986 to 1991, when founders and partners Andersen (Turn of the Century and host of [PRI's] Studio 360) and Carter (editor of Vanity Fair) ran the show (the magazine folded as a monthly in 1994). "We were very lucky to catch two waves—the post-'60s ironic mood and the go-go financial mood," observes Andersen, and these pages offer plenty of opportunity to travel back to those heady days of "Separated at Birth?" and "The Spy Guide to Postmodern Everything." Those who wondered what life at Spy was really like will also be rewarded: former deputy editor Kalogerakis [...] has collected plenty of stories about minuscule paychecks, ridiculously tight budgets and bacchanalian parties (Andersen and Carter chime in with extensive annotations). Certain to be on the holiday wish lists of aging hipsters. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
"Spy was the most influential magazine of the 1980S . . . it was cruel, brilliant, beautifully written and perfectly designed . . ." -- Dave Eggers
"It's a piece of garbage." -- Donald Trump
Top customer reviews
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Not my cup of tea.
You ask, "why should I buy a big, sort of expensive book about a magazine from twenty years ago?" Well, first because this book is funny as hell. Two of the first pitches of SPY were "The New Yorker crossed with the National Enquirer and David Letterman", or "MAD Magazine for grown-ups", and those are pretty good descriptions. The famous article about the Bohemian Grove is reprinted here in full, as well as Paul Rudnick and Kurt Andersen's "The Irony Epidemic" (perhaps the quintessential SPY piece), and Joe Eszterhas' flame-thrower letter to Mike Ovitz (with annotations.) The best SPY articles produced belly-laughs and cool investigative journalism at the same time.
The history of the magazine included in this volume might seem a little inside to those who aren't already fans, but if you read it you will learn why SPY was probably the most influential magazine of the last twenty years, certainly since the heyday of the National Lampoon. SPY was reviewing other reviewers before blogs were even thought of, and its brand of radical skepticism towards all things media has been ripped off by VH1, E!, and every other pop culture outfit you can name. Only SPY was smart. I think I got a post-graduate education of sorts from my reading of erudite pieces like the satiric explanation of post-modernism reprinted here. (SPY was the first place I had ever heard of post-modernism, which tells you either how smart it was or how sheltered I was at the time.) Each issue demanded a lot from the reader, which is probably why it wasn't long for this world. (In a just universe, SPY would still be going strong and be universally recognized for inventing "reality" entertainment, for good and ill.)
Co-founders Carter and Andersen have gone on to become solid members of the media establishment (and some would say that "Vanity Fair" editor Carter has become what he once mocked.) Old issues of SPY are avidly sought after on eBay. And "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report" try to emulate SPY, not realizing that the old magazine didn't have a political agenda: it made fun of everybody. This book is a valuable keepsake for admirers of the magazine and a good introduction for those who are yet unfamiliar but are curious about the legend. Man, I sure do miss it.
Highly recommended for former Spy readers!
Did anyone ever win the prize for the errors on the cover?
writing, but the design is so thoughtful, pretending to be chic, it's rather hard to read. The type is so small. I couldn't get though it.