Sunday, 27 June 2010

Mere Anarchy: Bizarre short stories

I happened to pick up this strange collection of stories from Woody Allen recently, and although I wasn't sure if I'd like it, I'm glad I checked it out. he has a knack for coming up with absurd situations (a little like some of Roald Dahl's adult stories) and they are very funny too!

Particulary amusing was the hubris of one two-bit, no-good supporting actor who gets captured by terrorists in the most bizarre cutting-edge film set-up in a developing country. This has me laughing out loud. The actor tells the story as if the whole thing was a "jaunt" over to the studio, rather than the trying ordeal it evidently was. Once you get used to the strange use of language, you'll enjopy the neuroses of the characters, and the cleverly hidden put-downs they use - which show what they are really after, or their real characters.

I was also loving the first story, with biting satire about a get-successful-quick scheme run through a manipulative new-age "prophetess" who has grown men in groveling in her service as they seek to escape their current mid-life crisis. And although some of the stories do mis-fire, one story called "Above the Law, Below the Box Springs" really cracked me up with a running gag about mattress tags, of all things, and another supremely silly story had me trying to imagine a dispute between Michael Eisner and the Disney character Goofy about screen time.

So take a look if you intrigued by something as daft as a man trying to buy a modern suit with built-in gadgets, or a couple whose nanny must be silenced before she publishes a book exposing what they are really like behind closed doors, or parents threatening legal action against the leaders of a ramshackle mountain summer camp who are demanding a stake in the rights deal for a movie sold to Hollywood.... some of these concepts bring out the pathetic, the ridiculous or the downright dirty in the modern Westerner, and it's funny while being kind of true.

This week I should be writing about some other books, including The Prodigal God by Tim Keller and The Suspicions of Mr Whicher. What are your summer top reads, and why?

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