Saturday, June 29, 2013

Saturday Music Club: does one get a band like (Detroit-based African-American protopunk) Death by the early 1970s?

? and the Mysterians: I Need Somebody

Sons of Adam: Feathered Fish (1966)

Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels: Sock It to Me

The Godz: Radar Eyes

Love: Seven and Seven Is

The MC5: Kick Out the Jams

Death: You're a Prisoner

Motor City Is Burning (BBC-TV documentary)

Friday, June 28, 2013

FFB: Elmore Leonard week: DJIBOUTI

I hadn't read John McFetridge's 2010 review of Djibouti, or if I had I'd forgotten it (and as with many such blog reviews including this one, the comments and replies are as valuable as the original review), when I picked up my copy of the novel to read for this week's exercise, but it remains a salient defense of the book...which has struck me as Leonard's weakest I've read, since its metafictional technique, of a kind of narrative shift between the events occurring in standard linear flow and jumps back and forth in the hotel-room editing suite the protagonists use to shape the footage of the video documentary they are making, tends to sap the energy of the novel more than it brings anything compelling to it. Leonard, as a writer who has nothing to prove at this point, nonetheless is an artist who wants to explore new and different ways to tell the tale, and as McFetridge notes is as engaged as anyone before him with the means to control the story with shape of the language (and I would go on to note even more explicitly than John does, most importantly the dialogue) employed...whether Twain was a primary model for this, I'll have to read more Leonard on Leonard to see if he says yea or nay.  Also, one of the things that usually makes Leonard's work vital is a sense that the narratives take place in fully-inhabited world, or at least the world that is so deftly suggested the characters know theirs at least as well as we know our own...this novel has the hallmarks, to some extent, of the travel novel, where not only the protagonists but perhaps also the author had recently spent some time in foreign circumstances; getting around this attenuation of the fully-felt environment by having a fair amount of the narrative occur in hotel rooms and other temporary residences is both necessary with this kind of setting (unless one is going to go the extrapolated-fantasy route of something like Kafka's Amerika or other speculative fiction/exotica) and can play with how literally as well as figuratively boxed in the characters are, but it isn't as effective here as it is when Leonard characters are in a setting where they are better able to explore options and more confidently use the tools on the ground to cope with whatever the crisis is. (In this case, the crisis is in making a documentary about Somali pirates while negotiating the various interacting forces, represented by often superficially charming and dangerous men in patented Leonard style, and as dealt with by a duo of an elderly but vital man who's both the employee and mentor of a younger woman, apparently inspired in part by filmmaker Kathryn Bigelow; neither is quite a stand-in for Leonard directly, but both will remind you of other Leonard characters.)

I haven't finished Djibouti yet, and I think that's because it isn't as good as his novels I've read since La Brava and, finally getting back to his work a few years later, the then-newish Freaky Deaky (which latter, when I read it nearly a quarter-century ago, convinced me that I needed to keep up with Leonard, even if I've done so only spottily since...there are so many writers to keep up with!). But even as it strikes me now, the wit and ear and genial cynicism of Leonard are still clearly on display, as well as his fascination with film and the desire to see how to make a work of fiction more organically cinematic (something which has dogged, among other writers, Robert Coover, Harlan Ellison and Alfred Bester over the decades, as well). Even if my opinion of its merits doesn't improve by the end, my only sorrow in reading it will be that I'd hoped he'd pull it off rather better. Perhaps he will.

Please see Patti Abbott's blog for more of this week's books. I might well be compiling them for next Friday.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Tuesday's Overlooked Films and/or Other A/V: more links (Richard Matheson memorial edition)

Thriller episode scripted by Richard Matheson
Below, two days after the passing of Richard Matheson, today's set of reviews and citations of audiovisual works and related matter, with the posts at the always, thanks to all the contributors and to all you readers for your participation. Matheson, who was nearly as active and perhaps at least as influential (and reached wider audiences) in a/v media as with his literary work, gets special attention in several posts below. And, as usual, there are likely to be additions to this list over the course of the day, and if I've missed your, or someone else's, post, please let me know in comments...thanks again...

Amber Frost: Rain Room

Bill Crider: Barefoot in the Park (1967 film)  ...trailer; Gary David Goldberg, RIP

Mamie Van Doren
Brian Arnold: Monty Python's Flying Circus: "Bicycle Repairman"

BV Lawson: Media Murder

Dan Stumpf: Caught

Ed Gorman: Mamie Van Doren; Richard Matheson

Ed Lynskey: favorite comedy films; The Monroes

Elizabeth Foxwell: Macabre (1958 film based on an "Anthony Boucher" novel)

Evan Lewis: The Lone Ranger (1956 film featuring the television cast)

George Kelley: Love is All You Need

How Did This Get Made?: Howard the Duck
Hitchcock silent film The Manxman

Iba Dawson: The Hitchcock 9 (a touring package of silent films); Much Ado About Nothing (2013 film)

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr.: Phil Harris; The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis

Jackie Kashian: Voice Actor Kyle Hebert (at A-kon)

Jake Hinkson: Superman: The Movie (1978) after The Man of Steel

James Reasoner: Hunters are for Killing (aka Hard Frame)
Barefoot in the Park

Jerry House: Richard Matheson on Television, particularly Thriller: "The Return of Andrew Bentley"

Juri Nummelin: The Lord of the Rings (1978 film)

Kate Laity: Scotland and the Birth of Comics

Kliph Nesteroff: Hits a Poppin'

Laura: The Final Edition

Lucy Brown: Star of Midnight (1935 film)

Martin Edwards: Marple: "Greenshaw's Folly"

Marty McKee: GetEven; Wonder Women; Mesa of Lost Women

Mike Tooney: Ironside: "The Monster of Comus Towers"

Mystery Dave: The Alamo (2004)
Django, The Last Killer

Patti Abbott: Nowhere Man

Prashant Trikannad: Horst Buchholz & Maxwell Caulfield

Randy Johnson: Gun Law; Django, The Last Killer (aka L'ultimo killer)

Rick: The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T; pirate movies

The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T
Rod Lott: Vice Squad; The Curse of Her Flesh

Scott Cupp: Super

Sergio Angelini: The Axeman Cometh; Richard Matheson

Stacia Jones: Sincerely Yours

Stephen Gallagher: Crusoe: writing a fight scene

Television Obscurities/Barry Grauman: The Restless Gun

Todd Mason: early Richard Matheson in a/v: please see below.

Walter Albert: Four Hours to Kill

Richard Matheson, the beginning of his a/v legacy...
Surprisingly, to me at least, it seems little if any of Richard Matheson's early work was adapted for network and syndicated dramatic radio in the 1950s (though I look forward to having it pointed out, if I've overlooked it in my hasty search)...but, as Jerry House's culling of his tv appearances from IMDb notes, he did begin appearing on screens with an episode of the Dumont television series, which went into first-run syndication as the Dumont network collapsed, Studio 57, in 1955 (the filmed anthology series was so-titled because it was sponsored by Heinz, corporately proud of their 57 varieties of pickles). "Young Couples Only" might be most of the reason the series is remembered...Peter Lorre almost compensates for the lack of an effects budget...

Part 2

Now is Tomorrow was an unsold pilot for an anthology series from 1958, after the film adaptation of The Shrinking Man as well as the Studio 57 half-hour, but this is still only the third representation, apparently, of Matheson in the visual dramatic format...I haven't yet had a chance to watch this one...but like "Young Couples Only," it has some familiar faces in its cast:

Part 2
Part 3

And, perhaps along with or just after an episode of the television western Buckskin (the first of several tv western scripts), there was another film, The Beat Generation, rich in Beat jive dialog, which managed to snag Louis Armstrong for its score as well as onscreen appearances...another I've yet to see. (I have a suspicion that of among these links, this one is the most likely to disappear soon...)

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Saturday Music Club: some songs of protest

O Rappa: Vem Pra Rua

The Tell Me More report that introduced me to the song.

Rick Ross remixed slightly by Turkish protesters: Everyday I'm Çapuling!

The Weavers: Venga Jaleo

Notable in this slideshow: the number of UGT and anarchist (FAI and other) posters mixed in with International Brigade and other Soviet-dominated groups' images...when the Stalinists, rather quickly in the Loyalist fight, were doing everything they could to undermine when not destroy the efforts of the anarchists and Trotskyists (the UGT, the PSOE political party and some others, including the young Eric "George Orwell" Blair)...who were often left to do what they could, somewhat uncomfortably together, as the more centrist republicans and the Stalinists impeded them or gave up. The anarchists were stronger in numbers and more organized and established and often better off thus than the Trots, as Orwell and such later chroniclers as Noam Chomsky would note. Hemingway and other Stalinist tools were, of course, more vague about such matters.

Chumbawamba: That's How Grateful We Are (aka Hungary 1956)

Live version (1997)
English Rebel Songs: 1381-1913
"So Long (Bye Bye Mrs. Thatcher)" (live in 2009)

Dead Kennedys: Holiday in Cambodia

The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy: "California Uber Alles"

Miriam Makeba: Oxgam

...with lyrics in Xhosa and English
An Evening with Belafonte/Makeba

Giannis Aggelakas: Siga mi klapso

from the Greek lyric:
“They tell me if I leave the circle I’ll be lost,
and only within its bounds that I should wander,
and that the world is an untamed beast
and when it bites it would be wise to keep quiet.
They tell me I’m too small to change things…
No, I won’t cry, I won’t be afraid”

Pussy Riot: Putin Lights Up the Fires

Buffy Sainte-Marie and Johnny Cash: Custer He Don't Ride Very Good Anymore

Dixie Chicks: Not Ready to Make Nice

Friday, June 21, 2013

FFB: AGEE ON FILM by James Agee (Modern Library, 2000)

James Agee wasn't our first serious film critic, nor was he the first to write intelligent film criticism for a lay audience from the perspective of a participant in the film industry. But he was among the first, and most of the better film critics and reviewers who have followed, if they have any sense of history and particularly the history of their field at all, have noted this and studied his work...a music critic could ignore the works of George Bernard Shaw similarly, but why?

For most of what's collected here, he was reviewing for The Nation, the leftist magazine of political and, secondarily but never without some interest, cultural magazine; he moved onto somewhat less engaging reviewing for Time magazine, but those columns are still worth reading as well. As a screenwriter and adapter of others' work (notably David Grubb's The Night of the Hunter and C. S. Forester's The African Queen...though IMDb notes John Collier had a hand in that script, as well) as well as an impressive essayist and fiction-writer on his ticket, he loved film, and brought, as John Simon has been quick to note, a fan's enthusiasm to his subject, while not letting artistic gaffes get by dint of emotional involvement nor condescension; his grace and wit were amply on display as well. The author of Let Us Now Praise Famous Men and A Death in the Family was unsurprisingly engaged by the characters in the works under question, and the verisimilitude brought to the handling of those characters, whether in "problem" dramas such as The Lost Weekend or Val Lewton's fantasy and suspense films, of which Agee was particularly fond (and Agee wrote at least one notable fantasy himself, "A Mother's Tale," aside from the recasting of The Night of the Hunter as more fable than not). Some of his views, such as his lack of absolute enchantment with the work of Billy Wilder, would be heretical if published for the first time today (and are more valuable for that). 

While the apparent former companion volume of Agee's scripts was not republished with this edition, it's even more a pity this volume is now out of print as well, but pretty well available secondhand.

Please see Patti Abbott's blog for more of today's books.

The weekly Tuesday's Overlooked A/V roundups of posts on this blog.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Tuesday's Overlooked Films and/or Other A/V: the links

Much Ado About Nothing
Below, today's set of reviews and citations of audiovisual works and related matter, with the posts at the links (and two takes on varying productions of Miss Marple stories)... as always, thanks to all the contributors and to all you readers for your participation. And, as usual, there are likely to be additions to this list over the course of the day, and if I've missed your, or someone else's, post, please let me know in comments...thanks again...

Bill Crider: Mr. Roberts  ...trailer

Brian Arnold: All things Kal-El

Stranger on the Third Floor
BV Lawson: Media Murder

Dan Stumpf: Stranger on the Third Floor

Ed Gorman: Employees' Entrance

Ed Lynskey: Where the Sidewalk Ends

Elizabeth Foxwell: The Notorious Landlady
Where the Sidewalk Ends

Evan Lewis: The Lone Ranger Rides Again

George Kelley: Marple: The Classic Mysteries Collection

Iba Dawson: Much Ado About Nothing (2003 film)

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr.: Suspense (the CBS radio institution and extensions); The Doris Day Show

Jackie Kashian: At A-Kon with voice actor Ms. Lisle Wilkerson

Jacqueline T. Lynch: dance cards in film
Employees' Entrance

Jake Hinkson: On Robert Mitchum
Spring Breakers

James Reasoner: The Borgia Stick

Jerry House: What's My Line?

John F. Norris: A Life at Stake

Juri Nummelin: Spring Breakers

Kate Laity: Let the Right One In (on stage, 2013)

Kliph Nesteroff: Pete and Gladys

The Fox
Laura: Legion of the Lawless; Pushover

Lucy Brown: The Fall (tv series)

Martin Edwards: Marple: A Caribbean Mystery (tv)

Mystery Dave: Three Fugitives

Patti Abbott: The Fox

Prashant Trikannad: Cher in A/V

Randy Johnson: Five Came Back; May God Forgive You...I Won't (aka Chiedi perdono a Dio...non a me)

Rick: The Sons of Katie Elder

Rod Lott: Banned (1989 film)

Sergio Angelini: Playback (BBC radio adaptation)

Murder by the Clock
Shannon Clute: Detour

Stacia Jones: blogathons and more

Stephen Gallagher: The European Science TV and New Media Festival (and here); Eleventh Hour

Television Obscurities: Television Forecast, 1949

Walter Albert: Murder by the Clock

Yvette Banek: Charlie Chan at the Wax Museum
Lisle Wilkerson

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Schoolhouse Rock (and Pop and a bit of Rap): Saturday Music Club's E/I Sunday learning annex

Amy Burvall and company's rewriting the lyrics of popular songs and performing them as learning aids to teach history and related subjects:

"Elizabeth I" (a variation on "She's Not There," the Zombies' song)

"The French Revolution" (a variation on "Bad Romance" by Stefani "Lady Gaga" Germanotta)

"The Divine Comedy" (a variation on "Rapture" by Blondie)

The HistoryTeachers playlist on YouTube.  (Thanks to Michael Colpitts for pointing these out.)

Italo Calvino: creating such possibilities, as a "minor writer"

Maria Popova, in her blog, quotes from Italo Calvino's collected letters in translation, in a post Bill Crider directs us to:

'As a young man my aspiration was to become a “minor writer.” (Because it was always those that are called “minor” that I liked most and to whom I felt closest.) But this was already a flawed criterion because it presupposes that “major” writers exist. Basically, I am convinced that not only are there no “major” or “minor” writers, but writers themselves do not exist — or at least they do not count for much. As far as I am concerned, you still try too hard to explain Calvino with Calvino, to chart a history, a continuity in Calvino, and maybe this Calvino does not have any continuity, he dies and is reborn every second. What counts is whether in the work that he is doing at a certain point there is something that can relate to the present or future work done by others, as can happen to anyone who works, just because of the fact that they are creating such possibilities.'


Saturday, June 15, 2013

Sam Moskowitz interviewed about Will F. Jenkins/"Murray Leinster"'s prophetic "A Logic Named Joe"

The speculations Jenkins/Leinster introduced in that story were unusually sound...particularly in broad outline...

A copyright-legit posting of "A Logic Named Joe" by "Murray Leinster" (one of the few instances in the pulp era in the US where a writer with the rather UKish name Will Jenkins opted for a more Mitteleuropean pen name such as Leinster, which he used mostly on sf) at Baen Books.

Barry Malzberg's short critical essay noting the significance of Jenkins in sf.

Saturday Music Club: third stream music Bachanalia

Nina Simone: Love Me or Leave Me

The Modern Jazz Quartet: "Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme" BWV 645  

The Swingle Singers: Sinfonia dalla Partita n°2 in DOm BWV 826 

Paul Desmond and Gerry Mulligan: The Way You Look Tonight

The Modern Jazz Quartet: The Golden Striker

Brubeck Quartet (1956 version): Two-Part Contention 

The Modern Jazz Quartet and the Swingle Singers: Little David's Fugue

Jacques Loussier: Air on a G String

Mulligan Quartet: Festive Minor

Friday, June 14, 2013

FFB: THE MEN IN MY LIFE by Vivian Gornick; BENCHMARKS CONTINUED by Algis Budrys...books about books and writers...

I first became aware of Vivian Gornick through her collection of essays, including quite a number of book-review items, Essays in Feminism, and her book-length survey, Women in Science. (It didn't hurt my feelings any that many of my favorite writers within the 1960s-onward resurgence of feminism were particularly interested in literature, from Joanna Russ to Gornick to Joyce Carol Oates to bell hooks.) In this small, charming book she highlights what she learned from some of her favorite male writers, not only in how to put prose together but also in how to handle the pressures and slights, the alienation and disappointments life is likely to dump on writers...even when they are men from the dominant ethnic and even social groups of their time and place...they are each given their own short essay: V. S. Naipaul, James Baldwin, George Gissing, Randall Jarrell, H. G. Wells, Loren Eiseley, Allen Ginsberg, Hayden Carruth, Saul Bellow, and Philip Roth. (Of these, I'd barely heard of Gissing, and haven't as yet read any Carruth that I remember, but was glad to be introduced thus.) It's a charming, thoughtful book, a hardcover from Boston Review Books/MIT Press the size of a reasonably slim mass-market paperback, and while it isn't the Gornick to start with (that would probably be Essays in Feminism or Fierce Attachments), I'm glad we have it.

I'd cited the publication of this one previously, but decided it's time for a capsule review...Algis Budrys, more than anyone else reviewing books in the fantasy/sf media with the occasional exception of his fellow critic in the pages of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in the 1970s, Joanna Russ, was passionately engaged in not only limning the qualities of individual works in question but also helping to place the significance of the art at hand within world literature, and not afraid to draw our attention to works supposedly outside our canons (it didn't hurt that he was also reviewing a wide range of books for The Chicago Sun-Times and contributing critical-historical essays to the likes of TriQuarterly in those years). And he did so with a dry wit and elegance that few others could match.  The latter '70s were a relatively hopeful and prosperous time within the fantasy/sf community (even as the wider US economy, at to some extent that of the West generally, was stagnant at best) and the efflorescence of various interesting new developments in publishing didn't escape Budrys's sometimes skeptical, sometimes enthusiastic attention...he even had not completely implausible (if slim) hopes of being on a major television chat show to plug his first new novel in more than a decade.  With Tolkien setting new sales records for hardcover fiction and this new guy Stephen King beginning to reliably appear at the top of bestseller lists (and not they alone), and science-fantasy films repeatedly dominating pop culture, and fantasy and sf generally seeming to gain ever more attention from wider audiences at various levels, it was an interesting time to be looking critically at the fields. As this volume demonstrates.

Please see Patti Abbott's blog for more of this week's books.
David Redd's much better review of the Budrys than any I have yet written.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Tuesday's Overlooked Films and/or Other A/V: the links

Pickup on South Street
Below, today's set of reviews and citations of audiovisual works and related matter, with the posts at the links (and two takes on Pickup on South Street)... as always, thanks to all the contributors and to all you readers for your participation. And, as usual, there are likely to be additions to this list over the course of the day, and if I've missed your, or someone else's, post, please let me know in comments...thanks again...

Bill Crider: Wait Until Dark  ...trailer; Robert K. Elder: The Best Film You've Never Seen

Brian Arnold: It's A Bird, It's A Plane, It's Superman  (ABC 1975 television version of the Broadway musical)

BV Lawson: Media Murder

Dan Stumpf: Kiss Me Deadly (1955 film)

The Sicilian Clan
Ed Gorman/Michael Mallory: Burke's Law

Ed Lynskey: Pickup on South Street

Elizabeth Foxwell: The St. Louis Bank Robbery

Evan Lewis: The Lone Ranger (1938 film serial)

Fred Blosser: French Connections: Verneuil, Gabin, Delon

George Kelley: The Best of Boris and Natasha, V. 1

How Did This Get Made?: After Earth
Kerry Washington and Don Cheadle (...Leland)

Iba Dawson: The United States of Leland

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr.: blogathons, tv on dvd, etc.

Jackie Kashian: Greg Proops

Jacqueline T. Lynch: Holiday Affair

Jake Hinkson: Pickup on South Street

James Reasoner: The Tonight Show: Johnny Carson interrupts Don Rickles's CPO Sharkey taping

Jerry House: The Way Ahead

John F. Norris: "The Mystery of You"

Star India
Kate Laity: The ORF Podcast

Kliph Nesteroff: Rod Serling on The Bob Crane Show (CBS Radio, 1961)

Laura: Ladies They Talk About;  Busses Roar

Lucy Brown: Case Histories

Martin Edwards: Poirot: Elephants Can Remember (ITV)

Michael Shonk: Shannon (tv 1961-62)

Neer: Star Trek: an Indian perspective

Patti Abbott: The Equalizer

Prashant Trikannad: The Dirty Dozen (1967); The Devil's Brigade

Randy Johnson: Two Against the World; A Hole in the Forehead (aka Un buco in fronte)

Sky West and Crooked
Rick: amnesia films; Friendly Persuasion; Sky West and Crooked (aka Gypsy Girl)

Rod Lott: The Touch of Her Flesh

Scott Cupp: Little Shop of Horrors (1986); The Final

Sergio Angelini: The Naked Face

Stacia Jones: The Secret Garden (1949)

Television Obscurities: Cliffhangers


Walter Albert: Spring Parade; King of the Rodeo; Miss Fane's Baby is Stolen  

Yvette Banek: Gargoyles

Zybahn: Super Friends: "The Power Pirate" (pilot)

Monday, June 10, 2013

twittering about...

  1. No open background checks, but maybe Congress would approve SECRETLY monitoring people who buy assault weapons.
  2. A drone follows them about? A military/industrial complex win-win!

     birthday girl Gina Gershon, just because:

    (OK, fun fact: She's written two commercially-published books--a YA fantasy and a self-helpish memoir. She's 51.)
    The office kitchenette has a big new microwave oven, a Panasonic Inverter. The more literate homophobes are already giving it a wide berth.

    Remember: when you hear that arming Everyone won't stop our crazed sniper problem: Crossfire doesn't kill people, only Evil kills people...

Peggy Lee, Sarah Vaughan, Aretha Franklin and Roberta Flack: In tribute to Duke Ellington (1973)

In tribute to Duke Ellington:
Peggy Lee, Sarah Vaughan, Aretha Franklin and Roberta Flack (1973)

(courtesy Tanita Tikaram's blog)

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Saturday Music Club: not quite more folk-rockers (but some)

Joni Mitchell: The Way It Is

CBC video of her performing; less good video, but the CBC logo comes up at end.

The Wind in the Willows: Djini Judy (featuring Deborah Harry some years before Blondie)

Blondie in 1974 and 1975 and talking with college students in 1981

Autoclave: Go Far

Helium: Superball

Bangles: I'm In Line (Annette Zilinskas still the bassist)

Decent career retro with Susanna Hoffs

Tanita Tikaram: Good Tradition

Go-Go's: King of Confusion

Bananarama: Hotline to Heaven
I have a friend who grew actively angry with me for suggesting that Bananarama ever recorded anything that wasn't cheerful fluff...but on their second album, particularly, along with some other somber if perhaps overproduced charmers, there was this lovely song about having to separate from someone going into a paranoid schizophrenic spiral...though in the edit used for this video, they cut the lines at the end of the album track:
 (Going up without me, baby/I won't let you drive me crazy)

The Roches: Second Family

Friday, June 7, 2013

FFB: funny papers: some humor and satire in prose and comics (from 5 years of reviews)

Reviewed (to one degree or another) below:
Nelson Algren's Own Book of Lonesome Monsters (edited by Algren)
Bennett Cerf's Houseful of Laughter (edited by Cerf)
Impollutable Pogo and Pogo: Through the Wild Blue Wonder by Walt Kelly
Explainers and Backing into Forward by Jules Feiffer
The Life of the Party and the magazine Fleener by Mary Fleener
Wimmen's Comix issue 13: Occult
Twisted Sisters and Twisted Sisters 2 edited by Diane Noomin
Chicken Fat by Will Elder
Harvey Kurtzman: The Mad Genius of Comics edited and written by Dennis Kitchen and Paul Buhle
The Sincerest Form of Parody edited and annotated by John Benson
Second HELP!-ing and Help! #23 edited by Harvey Kurtzman
The Realist edited and published by Paul Krassner
The Monocle Peep Show edited by Victor Navasky and Richard Lingerman
Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead written and edited by Rick Meyerowitz, et al.
Spy: The Funny Years written and edited by George Kalogerakis, Graydon Carter and Kurt Andersen
Infinite Jests edited by Robert Silverberg
Titters and Titters 101 edited by Deanne Stillman, Ann Beats and Judith Jacklin
The Enquiries of Doctor Eszterhazy (and the augmented Adventures) by Avram Davidson
First Hubby by Roy Blount, Jr.
The Public Image by Muriel Spark
Compounded Interests by Mack Reynolds
Lucky Bruce by Bruce Jay Friedman
The Years with Ross by James Thurber
Parodies edited by Dwight Macdonald
The Stuffed Owl edited by D.B. Wyndham Lewis and Charles Lee

It's been a bad week...parental health concerns, my own as well, DMV and traffic court fun, a multi-day argument with my oldest I beg off with another compilation from the five years of FFB--this time the prose and comics that have genuinely been comic, at least in part...and thanks, folks, for looking in. Hope the reshuffle is entertaining....

From the Contento Index:

Nelson Algren’s Own Book of Lonesome Monsters ed. Nelson Algren (Lancer 73-409, 1962, 60¢, 192pp, pb) (later reissued as 13 Masterpieces of Black Humor)

7 · Preface · Nelson Algren · pr
11 · A World Full of Great Cities · Joseph Heller · ss Great Tales of City Dwellers, ed. Alex Austin, Lion Library Editions, 1955
24 · Talk to Me, Talk to Me · Joan Kerckhoff · ss, 1962
34 · Show Biz Connections · Bruce Jay Friedman · ss, 1962
44 · Hundred Dollar Eyes · Bernard Farbar · ss, 1962
54 · The Man Who Knew What Ethopia Should Do About Her Water Table · H. E. F. Donohue · ss The Carleton Miscellany, 1961
68 · Among the Dangs · George P. Elliott · nv Esquire Jun ’58
95 · Peacetime · Brock Brower · ss, 1961
111 · The Shores of Schizophrenia · Hughes Rudd · ss, 1961
120 · Day of the Alligator · James Blake · ss The Paris Review #17 ’57
136 · Address of Gooley MacDowell to the Hasbeens Club of Chicago · Saul Bellow · ss The Hudson Review, 1951
143 · The Closing of This Door Must Be Oh, So Gentle · Chandler Brossard · ss The Dial, 1962
157 · Entropy · Thomas Pynchon · ss The Kenyon Review Spr ’60
173 · The House of the Hundred Grassfires · Nelson Algren · ss, 1956

So, you want to talk noir...if there's a concept in "darkness" that can be as argued about and misconstrued as noir, it's probably "black humor." Grotesquerie, biting satire, modest proposals. This book is a handsome sample of what was available in 1962, assembled by the writer best remembered for The Man with the Golden Arm, but who should be remembered for a much wider range of work, including the story that he immodestly caps this anthology with. As with Joe David Bellamy's SuperFiction from a decade later or Dwight Macdonald's fat Parodies from a couple of years before, this has been a widely-distributed anthology touching on the fantastic and the grimly realistic, surfiction and some stuff that at least verges on metafiction. Saul Bellow, not usually thought of as a comic writer (though his wit was just one of his many facets) delivers what might be the slightest and lightest piece here; Hughes Rudd, in the 1970s the acerbic anchor of the CBS Morning News (which was actually more or less a news program, imagine) gives him a run for that laurel (any joking aside, CBS News had several fictioneers on staff in those years, including Reid Collins on the radio side). George Elliott's "Among the Dangs" is straight-up science fiction enough to have been reprinted in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction before its appearance here, and Pynchon's "Entropy" might've been squeezed in without too much forcing the issue. The Heller is from a fine, pioneering Lion Books all-originals paperback anthology, and Joan Kerchoff probably shouldn't be the only woman to be represented in the book (how many Dororthy Parkers did he pass by? No Mary McCarthy?), but it's a solid, grimly funny read (and not only grimly funny) under either of the titles Lancer Books, that ultimately doomed publisher, chose to reissue it (Bernard Geis Associates did the hardcover, which I've never seen). Somebody else should reissue it; it's been gone too long.

Please Patti Abbott's blog for more "Forgotten" books for this Friday.

Gene Wolfe once wrote of "the book of gold"...a book, found early on, which launches a young reader into pursuing literature systematically...the gateway drug. I had a small library of gold (augmented with recordings of all sorts), but one of the key anthologies of my young reading was this best of Bennett Cerf's humorous books. Best because, unlike his collections of anecdotes, often secondhand (at best) or excerpted from others' longer work in the manner of The Reader's Digest and other magazines, this (while including a few aggregations of that sort of material for a few pages at a time) is a true anthology of humorous writing, including short stories, novel excerpts, memoir excerpts, poetry, examples of Roger Price's "droodles" (apparently "doodle/riddle" though I probably would've guessed as much out of "droll doodles" or "drawing/doodles"), and Walt Kelly's Pogo-cast version of "Chicken Little" for more elaborate graphic storytelling. It rather blew my doors off when I was eight, introducing me to nearly all of its contributors, and despite the kidsiness of some of Cerf's retold wit, it would stand up pretty well if I was to discover it today (see the index of contents below). A fair amount of chestnuts, then and now, such as the Tom Sawyer chapter, or the (admittedly then-newish) Norman Juster (without Jules Feiffer's illustrations but with Arnold Roth's added) or the O. Henry story; John Steinbeck's borderline horror story probably only occasionally has found its way into other anthologies aimed at children. And a fair amount of material, ranging from that of Stephen Leacock through Mac Hyman to Roger Price (and even Walt Kelly and Max Schulman and the latter's Dobie Gillis) which seems more obscure now than it seemed likely to become half a century ago when this book was assembled, or forty years ago when I first read it. (I borrowed it then from the Enfield [CT] Central Public Library; my new copy, bought used online, was due February 18, 1975, at the Brockway Memorial Library in Miami Shores, Florida.) There has been only one edition, this oversized hardcover (produced in the same dimensions and basic design as the young readers' Alfred Hitchcock's anthologies Random House was publishing at that time, almost all edited by Robert Arthur) was apparently never reprinted as a hardcover nor paperback. It's good to see some folks who would become more important to me in other contexts (Carolyn Wells, the light-verse poet and parodist, was also an early critic of crime fiction and an early annual best of the year anthologist in that field; I had yet to see a Marx Brothers film by the time I read this book, though I had seen syndicated repeats of You Bet Your Life; the films soon followed this reading), as well as to realize I went on to read more by almost everyone collected here (Billy Rose, not so much, even despite having a short story attributed to him in an early issue of Fantastic) very soon after reading this; another I didn't read much of, but experienced in other media, was of course Mac Hyman's character Will Stockdale, dramatized most famously by the recently late Andy Griffith. Access always helps; aside from the slight Mad Libs books, my major other exposure to Roger Price's work in the early 1970s was in the anthology from Mad comics he introduced, and perhaps one Droodles collection; Art Buchwald and Thurber and Twain and even Hildegard Dolson and Clarence Day were much more easily procured, the last two in Scholastic Book Services and similar (Bantam Pathfinder?) reprints of the books their contributions here were taken from.

According to WordCat, 226 libraries have held onto their copies of this anthology for all these years, and I can see why (I wonder how it circulates); I hope Brockway Memorial doesn't think they still have theirs. I'm tempted to ask them.

Index by me, for submission to the Miscellaneous Anthologies index online among the Contento/Stephensen-Payne indices.

illustrations throughout by Arnold Roth

vii * Bennett Cerf * Foreword * in
3 * Richard Armour * It All Started with Columbus * ex (It All Started with Columbus, humor)
18 * Heywood Broun * The Fifty-First Dragon * ss
28 * Walt Kelly * The Story of Chicken Little * cs
38 * James Thurber * The Little Girl and the Wolf * vi
40 * O. Henry * The Ransom of Red Chief * ss
53 * Bennett Cerf * Riddle-de-Dee * riddles retold
57 * Hildegard Dolson * How Beautiful with Mud * ex (We Shook the Family Tree, memoir)
66 * John Steinbeck * The Affair at 7, Rue de M--- * ss (Harper's Bazaar, April 1955)
76 * Clarence Day * Father Opens My Mail * ex (Life with Father, memoir)
83 * Bennett Cerf * Child's Play: A Selection of Anecdotes (as told to BC) * hu (from Try and Stop Me and other Cerf anecdote collections)
92 * Stephen Leacock * How We Kept Mother's Day * ex (from Laugh with Leacock)
97 * Robert Benchley * Your Boy and His Dog * hu
101 * Roger Price * The Rich Sardine * cartoons with explication
107 * Mark Twain * Tom's Whitewash * ex (The Adventures of Tom Sawyer)
113 * Art Buchwald * Pay the Two Francs * hu
117 * Billy Rose * Learning to Drive * ex (from Wine, Women and Song)
120 * A Turn for the Verse * grouping
120 * Gelett Burgess * The Purple Cow * pm
120 * Anonymous * O I C * pm
121 * Hughes Mearns * The Little Man Who Wasn't There * pm
121 * Richard Armour * Miniature * pm
122 * Margaret Fishback * Infant Prodigy * pm
122 * [Julius] "Groucho" Marx * Note to a Persistent Pest * pm
123 * Arthur Guiterman * Habits of the Hippopotamus * pm
124 * Carolyn Wells * How to Tell the Wild Animals * pm
126 * Laura E. Richards * Eletelephony * pm
127 * Samuel Hoffenstein * Poems in Praise of Practically Nothing * pm
128 * Lewis Carroll * Father William * pm
129 * Morris Bishop * Song of the Pop-Bottlers * pm
130 * Six Poems by Ogden Nash * grouping
130 * Ogden Nash * Reflections on Babies * pm
130 * Ogden Nash * Song of the Open Road * pm
130 * Ogden Nash * The Eel * pm
130 * Ogden Nash * The Lama * pm
131 * Ogden Nash * The Fly * pm
131 * Ogden Nash * The Termite * pm
132 * Little Willie Poems * grouping
132 * Charles H. Clark * untitled * pm
132 * Anonymous/retold by Bennett Cerf * six untitled short poems * pm
133 * Two-Liners * grouping
133 * Strickland Gillian * On the Antiquity of Fleas * pm
133 * William Benet * Maid's Day Out * pm
133 * George Ade * "Last night at twelve I felt immense/But now I feel like thirty cents" [untitled] * pm
134 * Richard Armour * untitled * pm
134 * Anonymous (retold by Bennett Cerf) * four two-line untitled poems * pm
134 * Out on a Limerick * grouping (from Out on a Limerick, edited by Bennett Cerf)
134 * Anonymous (retold by Bennett Cerf) * twenty untitled limericks * pm
135 * Gelett Burgess * untitled limerick ["I wish my room had a floor;"...] * pm
135 * Edward Lear * untitled limerick ["There was an old man in a boat,"...] * pm
135 * Woodrow Wilson (misquoting Anthony Euwer) * untitled limerick ["As a beauty I am not a star."...] * pm
136 * Gelett Burgess * untitled limerick ["I'd rather have fingers than toes;"...] * pm
138 * Berton Braley * untitled limerick ["When twins came, their father, Dan Dunn,"...] * pm
139 * Carolyn Wells * untitled limerick ["A tutor who tooted a flute"...] * pm
140 * Norman Juster * The Word Market * ex (from The Phantom Tollbooth)
153 * James Thurber * The Night the Bed Fell * ex (from My Life and Hard Times, memoirs; originally published on its own in The New Yorker)
159 * Max Schulman * The Face is Familiar But-- * ex (from The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, novel, Random House 1945)
172 * Mac Hyman * Practice Mission * ex (from No Time for Sergeants, novel, 1954)

(Roger Price's droodle, "The Frightened Mop"...or, possibly, "A Spider Doing a Handstand")

For more of today's books, please see Patti Abbott's blog. (Thanks to Phil Stephensen-Payne and Dennis Lien for some factual assistance with this post.)

I don't know what comics meant to you, but if you're reading my blog or have found this entry through one of the other blog rolls, I suspect they were pretty integral to your esthetic growth. While long-form comics are going through some meliorated good times (even as the comic magazine or "book" might be in trouble as a form, the graphic novel is doing fine, and not only as it rides the commercial coattails of the explosion of US and general foreign interest in Japanese manga and European fumetti and their offshoots), the newspaper strips are in the kind of trouble that being associated with a dying form can bring (the other day, a bit of improvisational jam between daily strip cartoonists got essentially no attention that I was aware of, beyong the strips themselves...a dragon in Lio reaching over and eating the eponymous Fred Basset out of a neighboring strip, for example...)...but also are one of the forms of newspaper-related entertainment that can easily flourish on the web...and have certainly flourished, when they have made the "cut" of collection in book form, in the literary marketplace. Hence these lifelong favorites of mine, two folks who are infrequently credited, but should be, with helping to establish the "graphic novel" as a form even if they didn't use the term initially.

In fact, most of Jules Feiffer's early relevant work was more like graphic novelets, notably "Munro", about a child drafted into the post-Korean War US Army, and early on adapted for an animated short (and first collected, I believe, in Passionella and Other Stories). Fantagraphics Books, that enterprising if maddeningly non-punctual publisher, has produced several collections of of a set of the Collected Works, the first of which is already out of print (and collects strips which, I believe, predate "Munro" and the famous strips collected in the book under consideration)...and they have offered Explainers, which is still in print but hardly seems to have taken the world by storm commercially, despite being an apparently complete collection of the first decade of strips he began running in The Village Voice in 1956 and eventually elsewhere in syndication. Such collections of these as Sick, Sick, Sick once were potent commercial properties, and were much prized by me when I came across them. The mockery of (would-be and actual) sophisticates as well as the kinds of folks who bedevil those sophisticates is sometimes here still in larval form, but usually still carries a punch, and the historical interest of even the few weak strips is stong...this is the work that led to such other good work from Feiffer as his plays (such as Little Murders, somewhat unfairly overlooked in its film version and even better as a play), his nonfiction (about comics and other matters), and just the continuing good work that the latter-day Voice (and Washington Post) were fools to let go. 

While Feiffer was blazing a trail in the "alternate" papers, Walt Kelly was famously doing much of the best satirical work in the daily press, his Pogo being one of the most fondly remembered strips by the diminishing number of folks who were able to catch it before Kelly's death in 1973...which was just before I stumbled across this, the last of his (slightly) augmented collections of the daily strip to be published during his life (at least, the "original," non-cherry-picking retrospective collections, as Kelly also issued), and one of the best-distributed (I'm not sure that too many of the others were ever released in mass-market paperback). Pogo and his fellow humanoid/(mostly) literate/humanoid animal denizens of the Okeefenokee Swamp were hugely influential, somewhat unsurprisngly, within the fantastic-fiction community, but also beyond it...only Al Capp, with L'il Abner (also set in the rural Southesst albeit with a mostly human cast), seemed to get in nearly as much trouble or have a very similar impact in their time (even if Charles Schulz and Johnny Hart might verge on their territory from time to time, and Gary Trudeau and his heirs were clearly their children). The strips in Impollutable Pogo took on Spiro Agnew when he was still a potent, if foolish, attack dog for the Nixon Adminsitration (and thus portrayed as such), particularly in tirades against popular culture and any form of dissent...and, as collected, were a fine vehicle for yet another illustration for one of the most pervasive of Pogo catchphrases, "We have met the enemy, and He Is Us." It was my introduction to the strip, and I quickly picked up as many of the collections as Simon and Schuster was still keeping in print in the '70s, and finding what I could among the older, OP titles. You could do similarly...any collection, particularly such Kelly-compiled volumes as I Go Pogo (including his volumes of long-form stories that were released originally in book form, such as The Jack Acid Society Black Book), could be a fine introduction, where one is needed. Perhaps Fantagraphics will be able to get around to Kelly soon (as they've promised)...even as the Schulz/Peanuts and Love and Rockets collections help keep them afloat in these tough times.

Life is not cooperative at all at the moment, so I shall have less to say than I'd like about this wonderful book, which collects most of Mary Fleener's most autobiographical comix stories (as of the '96 publication date) and this bluegrass "supergroup" album, I believe the first all-female gathering of veterans, rather than younger folk who came up together in bluegrass (as the Dixie Chicks initially did, or such younger bands as Uncle Earl).

From her middle-class LA early-teen years, through adventures in the bohemian subcultures (including latter-day 1970s hippiedom and the fringes of American punk rock, surf culture and more), the weirdness of the theoretically conventional "straight" life around that and various eerie bits of coincidence that seemingly could verge on the supernatural, Fleener's bold style (given, particularly in portraying incidences of stress or ecstacy, to Cubist abstractions, such as the cover above) is an excellent match with her wit and wry take on the passing show.

Life of the Party is a good introduction to her work, as would be particularly the three issues of Fleener, one of the several shortlived comics titles she's produced on her own or in collaboration (she was one of the most talented of the contributors to the durable Wimmen's Comix and one of the founding group of contributors to its heir, Twisted Sisters). However, Life is, as too many books are, barely in print, from Fantagraphics and others.

Some samples of her b&w work (please click to enlarge):

Meanwhile, Blue Rose the band: Cathy Fink, Marcy Marxer, Laurie Lewis, Sally Van Meter, and Molly Mason (no relation as far as I know) simply recorded this wonderful album, toured a bit as a group, but didn't find sufficient support to remain a unit, if that was ever the intent, and that's really too bad (as well as a poor commentary on the tough life a bluegrass band could face in the '80s and '90s)...these truncated (and now dead link) clips, but please see the video below, will give you a sense of their wonderful sound (though the instrumental solos were often what was truncated, in favor of the lovely vocal harmonies):

1. River of Change
2. Geraldine and Ruthie Mae
3. Blue Love
4. Little Birds
5. Your Friendship Carries Me
6. Sad But True
7. Wild Rose of the Mountain
8. Careless Love
9. Train of Life
10. Time Has Made A Change

--though I'm tempted to simply post them all. You probably need this record. I did.

For more of August's "forgotten" music, please see Scott Parker's blog; for more of this Friday's "forgotten" books, please see Patti Abbott's...

Wimmen's Comix #13 Occult Issue ("what else could we do?")

Editors: Lee Binswanger and Caryn Leschen
Cover by Krystine Kryttre
The Visit by Trina Robbins
Ladies by Carol Tyler
The Magic Lemon by Caryn Leschen
Hoodoo Voodoo by Leslie Ewing
Beyond Reason by Joey Epstein
The Night by Cécilia Capuana
Becoming Normal by Judy Becker
Clair de Lune by Rebecka Wright, Barb Rausch and Angela Bocage
Ella Gets Her Man by Pauline Murray and Suzy Varty
Futures by Angela Bocage
Emil's Cafe by Lee Binswanger
The Dead Girl by William Clark and Mary Fleener
Voodoo Woman by Carel Moiseiwitsch

While Wimmen's Comix was soon to fold (might have just folded as I was catching up with it), other similar projects arose, including one that produced some magazine issues after two popular, now ridiculously out of print anthologies:
Diane Noomin's anthologies, which of course also followed various projects of similar scope (often in magazine form) by the likes of Aline Kominsky-Crumb, Joyce Farmer and Lyn Chevli, and Trina Robbins, were certainly clarion calls, as well as great fun to read. (I've certainly cited the collected work of contributor Mary Fleener in FFBs past. In fact, here's a handy page from her story "The Jelly," collected in Twisted Sisters:)

Another recent purchase really goes back to my initial love of comics, particularly Harvey Kurtzman's Mad, inasmuch as it's a collection of sketches and finished work exploring the processes of Kurtzman's long-term partner (on the Playboy cartoon strip "Little Annie Fanny"), Will Elder. Chicken Fat touches on nearly all Elder's work, from the early art school studies through his solo cartoon work (including his failed pitch for a continuing one-panel in the Charles Addams or "Family Circus" mode, "Adverse Anthony"), including caricature for newsmagazines and ad campaigns, even as a rather small book. Among the more amusing oddities included are the roughs and finished work of illustration for a parody that Playboy published 1960, "Girls for the Slime God," which Cele Goldsmith at Amazing: Fact and Science Fiction commissioned Isaac Asimov to respond to, published in the magazine as "Playboy and the Slime God" and reprinted in his collections as "What Is This Thing Called Love?"--the William Knoles article, the mildly salacious Henry Kuttner pulp stories that had been excerpted in the November 1960 Playboy from the brief 1930s experiment in sexed-up sf pulp, Marvel Tales, and various explications were much later anthologized by Mike Resnick, with new analysis by Barry Malzberg and others, under the Knoles title (another FFB, if ever there was).

Meanwhile, back to Mad...the latter parody puzzled me slightly as to how to pronounce the title, since I'd only seen the Yiddish word for "thief" (with implication of thug) transliterated as "goniff" previously, never before as "ganef"...

For more of today's books, please see Patti Abbott's blog...

I'm breaking my "rule" again here and am featuring a book that's still in print, albeit it might not be for long, and it certainly turns up a wealth of material from magazines and books that are harder to find. Comics historians Denis Kitchen (a comics artist and publisher, and executor of Kurtzman's estate) and Paul Buhle (a Brown University historian with particular interest in comics and Judaica) have produced a slightly stilted but reasonably informative and beautifully illustrated biography/Festschrift of Harvey Kurtzman, whose career was at least as spectacular in publishing as [Rod] Serling's in electronic media [dealt with previously in the original post], his influence at least as great, Kurtzman's ultimate disappointment with the shape of his own career probably at least as heartbreaking to him as Serling's had been to him. From his earliest comics aspirations and early one-page humorous strips, "Hey Look!", for Atlas/Timely Comics (which would become Marvel), through his revolutionizing war comics at EC while that house was coming to the fore with its similarly challenging horror titles, and then out-challenging everyone in that business when Mad, which he wrote and designed nearly every aspect of from founding in 1952 to 1956, became a huge success and the only title to long survive the attacks on EC from without (driven by such rabble-rousing as Frederic Wertham's distorting "study" The Seduction of the Innocent--which, it should be noted, was more focused on crime-fiction comics than even the horror titles) and within the comics industry (notably from the triumvirate, including Columbia pulp-line owner Louis Silberkleit, who published Archie Comics, and resented enormously and litigiously Kurtzman's parodies of their cash-cow throughout the decades)...and became, in the course of that success, ever more ambitious and rule-breaking (even the reformatted black-and-white Ballantine collections from the early years of Mad didn't adequately give a sense of all the elegances and innovations of the standard-sized, richly-colored comic book it was, the authors note, and how thrilled Kurtzman was when the title was remade, briefly, into a slick-paper, 8.5 x 11" magazine--the dimensions remain the same through today, but the paper was downgraded not long after). But Kurtzman's desire to continue to run Mad according to his vision was far less practically possible once it was no longer part of a profitable stable, but the sole EC publication, and publisher William Gaines was unwilling to turn it essentially completely over to Kurtzman...who then left, and much of Mad's glory left with him.

Kurtzman already had a fan in Hugh Hefner, who offered an opportunity to do a fully-slick, full-color, more "adult" humor magazine, and a few more artists, such as Arnold Roth, signed on along with a core of his staff from Mad for the two issues produced of Trump. Then a credit-line crunch, partly in the aftermath of the American News Company magazine-distributor dismemberment, slapped around the Playboy Enterprises cashflow and Hefner was, essentially, forced to fold Trump despite excellent sales; a core group of Kurtzman and his ex-Mad and -Trump cronies banded together to produce Humbug!, an inexpensive (from the distributors' point of view, probably Too inexpensive) small-format comic, which lasted for about a year and a half, from '57-'58; Kurtzman and his collaborators scrambled pretty hard for the next year or so, but received interesting assignments from such slick magazines as PlayboyEsquire, and Pageant, and Kurtzman published with Ballantine an all-original paperback comics collection, Harvey Kurtzman's Jungle Book (1958). In 1960, Kurtzman's fourth and last satire magazine emerged; James Warren, doing well with Famous Monsters of Filmland and its stablemates, was willing to partner on the release of Help! magazine, again in large-sized format but, if anything, on as much a shoestring budget as Humbug! had been. But Help! was about as important a snag in pop-culture history as Kurztman's Mad had been, reuniting most of the old crew from the previous three magazines, at least for occasional contributions, and adding such folks as Robert Sheckley, Ray Bradbury, Gahan Wilson, Serling and Algis Budrys mostly as script/text contributors, along with occasional work in this wise by the likes of Orson Bean, who also, like such up-and-coming comics and actors as Woody Allen and John Cleese (the latter in New York with an Oxbridge Fringe-inspired troupe), would star in the photos used in "fumetti" strips--similar to comic strips, with speech balloons coming from the actors in the photos. Also, for the first year of the magazine, rather more famous comedians and actors, ranging from Ernie Kovacs to Mort Sahl to Tom Poston, posed for humorous cover photos; most of these folks were apparently convinced to do so by assistant editor Gloria Steinem, just beginning her magazine-production career. She left after the first year, but was soon replaced by a promising young Midwestern cartoonist, Terry Gilliam, who was in place when Cleese was employed for his photo shoot; this would result in their mutual participation in Monty Python's Flying Circus when Gilliam moved to England to avoid the Draft in the latter '60s. Other Kurtzman-inspired young cartoonists, including Robert Crumb and Gilbert Shelton, contributed to the magazine in various ways; Crumb even a had a bit-role in a fumetti, as well as debuting Fritz the Cat in Help!. But the constant budget restrictions Warren offered, as well as his caving in quickly to the again-outraged Archie Comics folks after Kurtzman's recurring character Goodman Beaver had an adventure which thoroughly mocked Archie and company again, led to discontent...and the magazine folded in 1965. Beaver, a somewhat Candide-like figure (with an ambiguously provocative name) was pitched to Playboy, which countered with a desire to have Beaver become a female character, and the strips to have a fair amount of cheesecake in them, and thus was born Little Annie Fanny, who would be a prime source of income for Kurtzman and his usual partner on the strip Will Elder for nearly three decades. Other activities came and went, but Annie went on forever (and oddly rather resembles actress Loni Anderson, not on the scene in the early '60s, but who might've patterned her look after the character a bit).

But Kurtzman also had opportunities to teach, and see his work influence further generations of comics and comix artists, who understandably lionized him; his early projects in graphic novels were mostly stymied, aside from the collection of Goodman Beaver from Macfadden and the Ballantine original book, and best-ofs his magazines with Ballantine (Mad comics, Humbug!) and Fawcett Gold Medal (Help!). Kitchen and Buhle note that the kind of graphic novel he wanted to do, and did manage, in relatively short form, to see one impressive example published, reprinted here in color from The Saturday Evening Post, wouldn't be too common until after Will Eisner's A Contract with God appeared in 1978, and not popular nor critically acclaimed till the likes of Art Spiegelman's Maus in the next decade--true unless you take into account such works as Walt Kelly and Jules Feiffer were publishing in the 1950s and later. But it's a very handsome book and does some innovative presentations of unpublished and work-in-progress from Kurtzman and his collaborators. You would do well to supplement it as a history with such items as the Fantagraphics complete reprint of Humbug! (and its accompanying interviews) and their collection of interviews with Kurtzman, reprinted from their critical magazine The Comics Journal, but this is a valuable book. Even if Harry Shearer's witty, bitter intro is too short to be so prominently advertised.

John Benson, in his historical essay accompanying the selections from the comic books that arose, imitatively, in the wake of the sudden success of Mad in 1953-54, notes that as a passionate young fan of Mad who couldn't get enough of Harvey Kurtzman's innovative satirical comic, he would scour the drugstores and other newsstands in shops up and down Haddon Avenue, a mile or so away as I write this, from Cherry Hill to Camden, New Jersey, hoping to get a Methadone-style sustaining fix from the issues of mayfly imitators he could pick up (comics publishing has always been irregular at best, with unreliable schedules augmented, if that's the word, by genuinely awful newsstand distribution at least until the advent of the direct-sales stores). (That probably makes Benson old enough to have the kind of eyesight that doesn't appreciate the kind of microtype in which Fantagraphics chose to print his essay, and particularly his footnotes, and Jay Lynch's introduction; I certainly don't, at some decades younger.) The comic stories and one-panel/page images reprinted here are a mildly representative survey of the various titles in standard comics format, with at least one example from the publications of nine different publishing entities, usually established comics imprints (EC itself with the Al Feldstein-edited Mad ripoff Panic, Charlton, Atlas [which would eventually become Marvel], Harvey) as well as packagers for smaller or less durable companies, and at least one startup, Mikeross, which EC essentially sued out of existence, Benson suggests for being a little too good at mocking EC at their own game. Mikeross's Get Lost! has apparently been collected in at least one other in-print anthology, so Benson mostly includes here only the rather deft parody of an EC Feldstein horror comic that, along with aping the cover format of Mad and Panic rather closely and being handled and partially bankrolled by EC's distributor, might've brought EC's particularly focused wrath upon them. The other fake Mads didn't usually manage to arise to the level of Get Lost!'s sample story, though Al Feldstein's lampoon of Mike Hammer for Panic is another highlight of the book (among the supplementary images collected here is Marie Severin's sketch of Feldstein poring through I, the Jury before writing his script). 

And, of course, Panic as an EC title has been (at times lavishly) anthologized in a way that Bughouse and Flip!(probably Benson's least- and most-favored imitators, respectively) have not been. And the reproduction here, including of some battered covers (presumably from Benson's childhood collection, though that isn't made clear) as well as pristine page-layouts, is excellent; my colleague and comics fan Jeff Cantwell notes that he's always gratified when no attempt is made to saturate the colors of "Golden-" and "Silver-Age" beyond those of the original images as presented. (The pages of the book do, however, have a slightly odd scent, perhaps in large part because of the kind of ink used, rather than the heavy and perhaps acid-free paper.) And while Benson is careful to mention the relatively few 8.5 x 11" magazines that immediately followed Mad's conversion away from the standard comics format (and a few latter-day imitators such as Marvel's Crazy, launched at the height of Mad magazine's 1970s success and as a part of a line of Marvel "oversized" comics), Benson doesn't note the college humor magazines that were already fellow-travelers of Mad comics in the '50s and earlier, nor such latter-day standard-comics-format titles as DC's Plop! and Marvel's Not Brand Echh; Benson is careful to note, however, that even as at EC, often the satire titles were the mutant cousins of the horror comics (as Plop! certainly was in the 1970s). And as Roger Price noted about the not quite Onlie Begetter of all this ferment at the time, you could always use this book to quiet the hum of one's potrzebie.


The late 1950s and early '60s saw a small flurry of satirical magazines, in the wake of the early/mid 1950s boomlet of satirical comics, in both standard comic-book format and, later, in roughly 8.5 x 11" magazine format, in imitation of Mad, founded by Harvey Kurtzman at EC Comics. After the establishment of comics industry self-policing after the popular embrace of Fredric Wertham's Seduction of the Innocent and similar attempts to blame juvenile deliquency on comics (among other "perverting" factors in popular culture), EC decided to publish Mad in the more adult-oriented format, and Kurtzman, for various reasons, demanded a percentage of ownership in the new version that EC's William Gaines was unwilling to offer. So, Kurtzman walked, and went on to eventually three other magazine projects, Trump (published by Hugh Hefner, and cut short by a financial crunch at Playboy Enterprises), Humbug! (published by Kurtzman and some associates themselves, and undercapitalized), and (after a 1959 collection, Harvey Kurtzman's Jungle Book, of original work for Ballantine), beginning in 1960, Help!, as a project at James Warren's publishing house, which at the time was best-known for Forrest J Ackerman's Famous Monsters of Filmland, and was getting into the large-sized comics business with such titles as Creepy and Eerie, which would eventually be joined by Vampirella. Warren was never a publisher to spend any more money than he had to, and Help! reflected its small budget (and, after an initial year of nearly monthly publication, became essentially a quarterly for the rest of its run, to the end of 1965) and some of the lack of certainty of exactly whom its audience was that had been more easily ignored at Kurtzman's previous projects. There was a sexual undertone to much of the humor, particularly in the photographic comics-style "fumetti" stories, and bits of discreet nudity, that was mostly absent from Mad, certainly, but still a certain tendency to go for the rather easy, and sometimes the rather kidsy, joke. But, despite those limitations, Help! was a locus of some rather remarkable talent, in both magazine publication and the broader world of comics and comedy; Kurtzman's first editorial assistant was Gloria Steinem, who apparently was particularly adept at talking well-known comedians and comic actors into posing for the magazine's covers, and occasionally getting them to work as fumetti actors/models (including Orson Bean, Jean Shepherd, and Jack Carter, though usually less well-known comics were employed in the photoplays...such as Woody Allen, or a visiting Briton, then in the US with a small Oxbridge Fringe-style troupe trying their luck with NYC audiences, John the time Cleese's strip appeared in the magazine, Steinem had moved on and was replaced as primary assistant by a young Minneapolis cartoonist, Terry Gilliam, who worked with Cleese on that shoot...and both would later work together in London on Monty Python's Flying Circus). Meanwhile, writers such as Peter De Vries, Roger Price, Algis Budrys, Robert Sheckley, Ray Bradbury, Rod Serling, Stan Freberg, Joan Rivers and (primarily a book editor) Bernard Shir-Cliff were contributing text pieces and fumetti scripts to the magazine (alongside reprinted work of Saki and Ambrose Bierce), veteran cartoonists such as Jack Davis, Paul Coker (among many of Kurtzman's associates at Mad and later), Edward Gorey, Gahan Wilson and Shel Silverstein were contributing panels and strips, and younger cartoonists also making their names in "underground" comics were contributing, such as Gilbert Shelton and his superhero-parody "Wonder Warthog" stories, R. Crumb, Jay Lynch, and others; Sid and Marty Krofft, the psychedelic puppeteers, had a piece in one issue.

So, such collections as Second Help!-ing, or the 23rd issue of the magazine (only three issues before the last), could individually seem a bit thin, but there are always solid and memorable bits, and both the evidence of what the assembled were capable of, and the since-fulfilled promise of many of the new faces on display (even if such come-ons as Jerry Lewis's tiresome piece leading off the Fawcett Gold Medal collection, or Alan Seus, of all emerging one-note performers, engaging in a weak cover-gag on the issue, were indicative of what was least about the project).

Monocle, for its part, had the most common sort of roots among US satiric magazines: it began as a late 1950s campus project, among some law students at Yale, including the co-editor of the volume cited above, Victor Navasky (who went on to serve as editor and then also publisher for The Nation magazine over most of the last four decades). The students took their cue from Mort Sahl and other emerging satirical comedians, and then Paul Krassner's The Realist, and eventually began publishing in earnest a rather well-written and well-designed irregularly issued magazine, in the sort of tall, thin format favored till recently by Foreign Affairs magazine (or am I thinking of Foreign Policy?) Boasting of contributions by regulars such as Calvin Trillin, Marvin Kitman (put up as a Republican Party presidential contender, against Goldwater in the primaries, by the magazine), fiction writer C.D.B. Bryan, and co-editor Richard Lingerman, the contributions can feel a bit notional at this remove, literary Second City scenes that don't quite hit their targets as hard as might've been hoped...but such pieces as Godfrey Cambridge's "My Taxi Problem and Ours" (simultaneously dealing, early on, with the difficulties of even a well-off black man hailing a cab in NYC, and mocking the title and format of a certain clangorous, and racist, Norman Podhoretz essay of some months before), or Katherine Perlo's poem "The Triumphant Defeat of Jordan Stone", hold up pretty do various other bits here and there, including challenging one-liners (under the heading, "We're Not Prejudiced, But...", "Would you want your brother to have lunch with James Baldwin?") and Robert Grossman's superhero satire strip "Captain Melanin". This Monocle should definitely not be confused with the current newsstand magazine founded in 2007. It should be noted that this "Bantam Extra" book was published in typical mass-market paperback format, and on better-than-average paper, for what was in 1965 a ridiculous price of $1, ensuring some sales-suppression...perhaps Bantam thought they had caviar for the millions, here. 

 And since I'm running very late with this entry, I'll simply note that the online archive of The Realist, which I've recommended before, remains available and invaluable, and much of this material remains as challenging and sadly too often pertinent as when it was published, beginning in 1958... 

The Feiffer is a bit diffident about nearly everything in Feiffer's (very own) life and career; the prose material provided with the strips in the Kelly (including Jimmy Breslin's preface) is not exactly fawning, but certainly helps trace Kelly's not altogether different path (Kelly was a little better at making friends with some of his bosses). Pogo and Sick, Sick, Sick have been my favorite newspaper strips so far...and picking up these books on big discounts didn't hurt my feelings (the memoir from a collapsing Borders, the strip collection on pre-order from Amazon).

Jules Feiffer film links: "Munro" and Little Murders

Feiffer's The Explainers and Kelly's Impollutable Pogo

This clip, from an understandably unreleased film, has only the faint echo of the strip about it, in terms of character and wit...but is amusing to see...iirc, that's Kelly doing the voice of Porky Pine.

Brian Arnold has brought to my attention, at least, the webposting of the disappointing but interesting Chuck Jones/Walt Kelly anti-collaboration for television here (marginally worse than the clay animation film excerpted just above!)

So, I looked at this, an example of long-term art-book publisher Abrams's newish program of moving solidly into publishing books about and collecting comics materials (a trend I applaud, as I suspect do their accountants), and it powerfully reminded me of how much I enjoyed, even when I was mildly disgusted by, the National Lampoon in the '73-'76 period when I first became aware of it and was able to gain somewhat inconsistent access to it (I was, after all, ages 8-12). My mother angrily brought me and one issue I bought back to the drugstore where I'd purchased it, for example (the same place I'd ride my banana-seat bike down to buy my "mainstream" comics, and where I'd seen my first Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, and where I'd buy my father a copy of Harry Harrison's anthology Nova 4 in its Mentor Books edition for his birthday...if Mentor and Charlton Comics were mobbed up, as they have been more than rumored to be, there was a certain logic to them being easily available in my Hazardville [Hammett fans take note] neighborhood). But what strikes me as particularly interesting is how much of this book, concentrating on the consensus-best years of the magazine, is familiar to me from those years...I think Meyerowitz, perhaps intentionally, missed the comic dinosaur spread that I recall enjoying enormously. Meyerowitz makes some not necessarily popular editorial judgement (he makes a Large Point of reprinting the splash-page illustrations for John Hughes's "My Vagina" and "My Penis" while refusing to reprint the short stories themselves, which he considers jejune and trite and examples of how NatLamp went wrong in the Animal House years and later). And there's the rub, here...much of this stuff doesn't hold up well for me at all...jejune and trite and self-conscious naughtiness are all over the place, but most of the wit is simply epater Mom & Pop and Teacher. Even Mad, and Plop!, and infrequently Cracked in the same years would dig a little deeper at times, not having quite the recourse to the sexual themes and skin-magazine imagery that so angered my mother. So, this is a tribute to an era of the magazine when it was part of the wedge that would also include the Lampoon's radio series, stage shows, budding film career (and such proto-NL projects as The Groove Tube) and, most sustainedly, Saturday Night Live. But, what it's not, particularly when compared to such other inputs of the time that I was experiencing as the Ballantine reprints of the first years of Mad then still widely in print, The Mad Reader and more, is brilliant work that will live forever, even when done by such often brilliant people as Anne Beatts, Gahan Wilson, and Tony Hendra. Oddly enough, even "Mr. Mike" O'Donoghue often did better when someone might tell him, No, do it again and fact, better.

And, as satire goes, while Agatha Christie (one of her novelets originally reviewed along with this anthology) might not be credited sufficiently in some circles, Spy magazine during its heyday beginning in 1986 and lasting to the End of the Funny Years (due to takeover by new management, which failed quickly) in the early '90s, was wildly overcredited, inasmuch as most of the acknowledged models for this brainchild of magazine guy Graydon Carter and upstart writer (and latterly radio host) Kurt Andersen, such as The Smart Setor The New Yorker (in part) or Private Eye, took on rather more daunting targets for parodic criticism than Donald Trump, even if the Trumps of the time were getting entirely too much of a free ride. To daringly mock the nightlife habits of reasonably famous people (even if it meant glancing reference to actor Lisa Edelstein when she was still club kid Lisa E) wasn't exactly coverage of the Scopes trial nor the Official Secrets Act nor even "Backwards ran sentences till reeled the mind"; and while some of the snark (Spydidn't invent snark, but tried to buy the patent) had some import outside the kind of circles The New York Observer somewhat less ambitiously serves today (the mockery of Never Too Rich or Too Thin was certainly on-target and more necessary in NYC than in many places, but useful everywhere), too often Spy was, even at its best, self-congratulatory and navel-gazing to a fault in the way it conducted its business, and this history (mostly by George Kalogerakis, with the editors interpolating at will) and anthology makes the faults even more than the strengths of the magazine as clear as did Rick Meyerowitz's similar Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead (which I've also written about too briefly) for National Lampoon, similarly half-assed and credited for the full delivery in the decade previous...while similar incomplete, but less overrated and less well-remembered, successes such as Help!and Monocle are too-often overlooked, to say nothing of the less overlooked but less popular, and rather more consistently on-target, The Realist. So it goes, as more than one relevant writer enjoyed noting.

Infinite Jests was one of the books my father picked up as a remainder, not too long (perhaps a year) after it was published by Chilton in 1974...Sterling Lanier had been fired as an editor there, some months after persuading them to publish the first hardcover edition of Frank Herbert's was a slow seller at first, and a far cry from Chilton's bread and butter, car-repair manuals. That you have almost certainly heard of Dune even if you know very little about science fiction tells you a little about how that eventually turned out (and about the fine commercial instincts of all the more likely publishers who'd rejected Herbert's novel before Lanier was able to see it through).  Chilton took a flier on a few other sf and fantasy titles in the wake (scirocco?) of Dune, including Lanier's own novel Hiero's Journey and this anthology...which I suspect isn't the first anthology of humorous sf, but might be among the first:

(courtesy ISFDb:)

Title: Infinite Jests: The Lighter Side of Science Fiction
So, I'm ten years old when this book materializes in the house, with a so-so Cheshire Cat-inspired cover (by one Jack Freas, not untalented but apparently no relation to Kelly and credited with only two covers at ISFDb) and a slightly sturdier production standard than my father's (and my own) other fiction hardcovers, which are uniformly the wares of the Doubleday Book Clubs...but the contents made an impression. The Damon Knight story is one of his best, a bitter and funny account of what life is like when no one can communicate through words (from the first issue ofBeyond Fantasy Fiction, which would be one of the first such collectables I would buy a few years later. The Russ story was an excellent introduction to her work, pages from a tourist's guide for visiting other planets with sentient life, including that that might either find us tasty or be tasty to us (among the most repeated phrases, in several contexts, is "I am inedible."). The Lafferty is a typical tall tale in his best mode, involving a culture which can go through a renaissance in a few minutes time, while stifling yawns. I'd first read Philip "William Tenn" Class, with his sinister but funny early classic "Child's Play," in a Silverberg YA anthology, Beyond Control, which I'd borrowed from the Enfield public library not too many months before, and likewise was happy to see more work in this adult book from Brian Aldiss, Alfred Bester and others I'd read in anthologies aimed at young readers (even if the stories collected in those YA books were not written with kids in mind). And Grahame Leman's story, "Conversational Mode," about a psychologist under the rigid care of the psychiatric computer program he helped to devise, was definitely in a latter-day "Child's Play" mode, one of the few stories published by Leman (no relation to the similarly good and unprolific Bob Leman, I believe), and what Avram Davidson cited, in his F&SF review of the book (despite his own story included: "Well, I liked it." being his only comment on this initiation of a short comic series of Goldpepper, DDS, stories by him) , as one of the providers of "laughter with a bubble of blood in it." It made a good impression.
A more generic if  better-rendered
qp reprint cover I've never seen.

Somewhat less good, if (if anything) more ambitious, is what boldly claims to have been the first anthology of women's humor (I haven't yet found an earlier example, but I haven't tried too hard)...Deanne Stillman and Anne Beatts (and Judith Jacklin/Belushi)'s Titters, which mixes new and reprinted material from a range of the National Lampoon/Saturday Night Live/NYC hipster crowd the editors (and illustrator/designer) moved in, peppered lightly with some of the most congruent short items they could obtain from influences and fellow-travelers both obvious (Florence King, Fran Lebowitz, underground comix artists such as Aline Kominsky, Diane Noomin and Trina Robbins, even a comically censored contribution by Richard Belzer) and (at first) perhaps less so (Phyllis Diller, Anne Meara, Erma Bombeck, Peg Bracken). Both the strengths and the weaknesses of the NatLamp school of comic presentation are present: the contributors, often the editors in collaboration with others but by no means exclusively, are extremely well-versed in the pop culture of the times (the book was first published in 1976), and are whip-smart in their ability to accurately parody the forms of things ranging from True Confessions magazine and its imitators to Erica Jong's Fear of Flying to Marabel Morgan's then hugely popular how-to guide for sexual self-abnegation The Total Woman to "Brenda Starr" newspaper comics to Nora Ephron's essays and other common contents of the then-newish Ms.magazine. The downside is, as with too much of the other work to come out of the'Poon and its environs, was too much unchanneled rage is on display, sometime too little artistry, sometimes the notion that sophomoric shock is funny in some extent, sometimes...but too often, not so much. Particularly now that what was shocking and grotesque and edgy in 1972 and maybe still to some extent in '76 is  rather too it might just be grotesque in a rather dull, familiar way.  Certainly the 1984 sequel to this book, from the same trio and with some of the same collaborators, the fake-women's literature textbook Titters 101 has a more even tone, and less variation in the quality of the contributions...but you do have a sense of the urgency and (despite the rancid edge of some of what's here) the same sort of infectious sisterhood in practice as such projects as Wimmen's Comix or even secondary parody target We, Ourselves (the slightly post-hippy Boston Women's Health Collective guidebook) is present here...because even if they weren't the first, as they say they were, they were certainly among the first...and it's sharper, on average, than the collections out of the Lampoon...I wonder what the instigating trio are up to now...

(Note the slightly more early-'80s flare of the Titters 101 model's wardrobe...)

A collection of historical fantasies that might just barely brush up against sf fleetingly...

The Enquiries of Doctor Eszterhazy  might just be the most brilliant book the most brilliant Avram Davidson saw published...and, of course, it was published as a paperback original (WarnerBooks, 1975) with little support and in a clumsy package, egregiously mislabeled "science fiction" (although as historical fantasies, the linked stories within touch on sf from time to time). Currently in print only in the expanded small press edition The Adventures of Doctor Eszterhazy, the earlier edition is in several ways preferable...most importantly because the later stories Davidson wrote involving the extremely learned Doctor were slighter and a bit less inventive on balance, still good but not as lapidary and achingly Right as the earlier set. Also, the typesetting leaves a bit to be desired in the newer book, which at least is a well-built hardcover. But to know Eszterhazy is to want to have all the stories, so one must eventually have the Adventures; it's simply a pity that circumstances so rarely rewarded Davidson well enough for him to consistently do the work of which he was capable.

Eszterhazy is a sort of Holmesian figure, only both more accomplished and yet also more believable; his efforts on behalf of the small Mitteleuropean nation in which he resides usually at very least brush him up against the supernatural. These stories, some of the best work ever published in those great fiction magazines Whispers, Fantastic and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, display the ready wit, the easily-incorporated erudition, the passionate love of life and play, and the weary disappointment in the worst in humanity that Davidson's other best work displays, only rarely as concentratedly as in these accounted investigations. If you let them, these stories will educate you, amuse you, surprise you, break your heart occasionally, take your breath away at least as often.

I remember well sitting in the lobby of Discovery Bay, a condo tower in Waikiki, having both just moved in 1979 to Hawaii and discovered affordable back issues of Fantastic and others at a secondhand store called Froggies, reading "The Church of Saint Satan and Pandaemons," in an anniversary issue of Fantastic. The chair wasn't overwhelmingly comfortable, and I would jump a bit from time to time when someone would come in through the front door or knock to beg entrance past the expensive lock; I was down in the lobby to get some peace and quiet while my parents and brother watched television in the one-bedroom apartment we survived throughout that summer, with my then 7yo brother and I sharing the foldout couch bed in the living room. Didn't matter...the allusive, often hilarious, deeply strange narrative of Davidson's was easily the highlight of the issue. His non-Eszterhazy "Hark! Did I Hear the Squeal of an Angry Thoat?" in another, later Fantastic in my stash was nearly as good, even more improvisational and seemingly haphazard--the character of John Carter appears suddenly at the end, as one might guess from the Burroughsian title, but until that time it has been a nostalgic romp through mid-20th century New York City--but one feels the extra jolt with the Esterhazy stories of an author gently parodying as well as sympathetically representing himself with his protagonist.

They are necessary reading, and have only appeared in collected form in two rather obscure editions.

(This is another response to a Patti Abbott challenge, to cite a book in serious danger of being forgotten. See links to other answers to the call here, where Patti is also proudly hailing her daughter Megan Abbott's win of an Edgar Award for her novel Queenpin, and well she might!)

Avram Davidson was also an Edgar Award-winner, in fact the first person to have won both the Edgar and Hugo awards, and perhaps the first to have won both of those and the Howard (though his occasional collaborator Harlan Ellison might've beat him to that punch...I first became aware of Davidson through the Ellison in collaboration collection Partners in Wonder). Davidson's most fully-realized novel is also one with a modest publication history, Masters of the Maze; since his death, his ex-wife but lifelong friend and occasional collaborator Grania Davis, a talented writer in her own right, has made an effort to get nearly all of Davidson's work back into print, with impressive collections of his crime fiction and his tales of contemporary Jewish-American life as well as his fantasies, horrors and sf...most recently a collection of his similarly brilliant tales of an expatriate American finding odd things indeed in an alternate Guyana, Limekiller!.

And I've just discovered that the Eszterhazy story "The Odd Old Bird" was collected in neither, I have yet another grail...

***and another Late Bulletin! Hot on the heels of Megan Abbott's 1 May win of the Best Paperback Original Novel Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America, Patti Abbott on 2 May herself picks up the vignette Derringer Award from the Short Mystery Fiction's a good week to be a writing Abbott, and, of course, since awards are only as good as the recipients they're given to, both awards have been elevated as's the winning story, "My Hero" (since removed).

First novels by writers established in other forms have their own perils. Particularly if the writer in question doesn't usually write prose, per se...recall Bob Dylan's fairly unreadable Tarantula (which, to be fair, is more like a selection of rambles than a short story collection or novel) and Penn Gillette's utterly unreadable Sock (definitely an attempt at a novel which is instead a collection of punchlines, many redundant). Roy Blount, Jr., a seasoned essayist and journalist by 1990, doesn't fall into those traps, and while he creates and falls into a few others, I rather enjoyed First Hubby, and was impressed by how many not-too-far-off guesses it included (being, as it is, a near-future sf novel of a 1993 which sees the inauguration of the first woman to become the U.S. President).

Blount basically seems to be taking Vonnegut's novels as model, making a lecture, one full of asides, out of the book, even as it's folksier and at base considerably less bleak than the typical KV. The jokes tend just a bit more juvenile than his model's, when Blount is in the mood for a juvenile joke, and Blount seems more comfortable with sex, at least between the protagonist, a Guy Fox, who while he might just get his day, doesn't attempt to blow up any legislative bodies, and the current and, in flashback, eventual Madame President, Clementine Fox, nee Searcy.

Clementine's portrayal is that of a love letter, one tempered by the frustration of a multiply-divorced man...she verges on perfect in most ways, yet particularly in the present-day sequences she seems a bit distant, and to take Guy for granted, in ways that bother him even more than his status as appendage to the well-spoken, famously level-headed, comparatively youthful and attractive first-of-her-sort President. Fox is very clearly a variation on Blount, himself, and one hopes he's had some approximation of Clementine in his life...he both dedicates his book to his literary agent and makes her a minor character in the book, a member of a feminist activist group somewhere between NOW and the Yippies but less leftist than either, which is one of the elements that coalesce into a credible third-party Presidential bid...eventually with student-, civil-, and women's-rights movement veteran Clementine as the VP candidate to a maverick billionaire who finances his reformist, yet relatively centrist, campaign out of pocket...and manages to get himself elected in 1992, versus a scandal-weakened George H. W. Bush and an improbable second go-round for a newly re-energized Dukakis (an attempt at a coup led by Marilyn Quayle has led to J. Danforth being dropped by the GOP in favor of Colin Powell for VP, while Dukakis's running mate is Jesse Jackson...Blount never spells out what I suspect is his suspicion, that a white woman might well have a better shot at the #2 job in 1992 than a black man). The new President DaSilva gets as far as pushing through the appointment of Secretary of Defense Ralph Nader not long before being killed in a freak accident (a rather too freakish and convenient accident, the former to help us get past the latter I suspect)...leaving Clementine in charge. That's a lot of guesses about the shape of and players in the next decade's national politics that're both good and lucky.

Blount gets to go off on tangents about political hypocrisy among other kinds, makes a recurring theme of the remarkable ubiquity of childhood sexual abuse, and explores the various ways a writer not yet satisfied with his career can find to accommodate to a life of modest success in the shadow of his much more celebrated spouse. It's usually a funny, and at times a moving, book. Not perfect, by any means, and it can lose its thread at times, but vastly to be preferred to such other Southern Comics as, say, A Confederacy of Dunces...very little of Blount's book, unlike Toole's, seems forced, indeed a little more shaping would've helped. But Blount has a way with a telling vignette in the middle, or at the end, of a chapter.

Bruce Jay Friedman is a survivor of the days in which freelance writing could, if you were indeed lucky, reasonably support some writers with a living wage; what you won't find out too directly from this memoir is how one actually writes well enough and steadily enough to have been so lucky. Born in 1930, the child of a seamster and a theatrical publicist, he notes several times that his childhood bed was a kitchen chair; what he never quite explains is how one sleeps in a kitchen chair (I'm guessing he slumped over the table, but it's a guess)...and the offhanded discursiveness of the early chapters is maintained throughout this entertaining, digressive, and only occasionally time-bound memoir (you can go a whole chapter or so without a specific year, sometimes even a decade, being mentioned). Also, each chapter is written, out of ingrained habit perhaps (or perhaps because some of most of the chapters were originally published thus) as one might write an interview or profile piece for a magazine, with a "grabber" anecdote at the beginning from the thick of the action, and then in the second or third page a return to the beginning of whatever events are to be covered (he also quotes himself and conversations with others for epigraphs before the opening anecdote in each chapter).

But this is BJF, as he refers to himself, the author of the stories collected in Far from the City of Class, of the story "A Change of Plan" now filmed twice as The Heartbreak Kid, of the novel Stern, of the plays Scuba Duba (a hit, and to him a surprise hit) and Steambath (at best a moderate financial success till being taped for PBS's Hollywood Television Theatre in 1973, the production for television featuring Valerie Perrine in a much-remembered nude scene, Bill Bixby, and José Pérez as God)(and it's typical of the chronological vagueness of the memoir that Friedman usually here mentions the 1973 PBS broadcast and the 1983 Showtime cable miniseries based on the play as if they happened in immediate succession...decades fade away). Friedman would make somewhat more money in films, writing Stir Crazy and early drafts of Splash along with having many other of his scripts, stories and novels optioned repeatedly without much result (the weak Dan Ackroyd film Doctor Detroit is loosely based on a Friedman short story). But the book does proceed in a mostly chronological fashion, dealing with his youth, his college journalism career at the University of Missouri (where he would meet his first wife, Ginger Howard, and entered a bad marriage that lasted for about a decade and a half; there is no photo of Ginger anywhere in the book, despite copious photography of their sons as adults, among other friends, acquaintances and family, including his second wife), his passage through the Air Force (and his work on an airbase magazine, with which his editor hoped to rival The New Yorker in some fashion) and BJF's early short story sales to The New Yorker, leading to a meeting with the staff at their offices there, only to be shushed when walking down a corridor near editor-in-chief William Shawn's office; Friedman is advised that "Shawn is upset when he hears unfamiliar voices." If ever a sentence encapsulated everything that was wrong with Shawn's version of the magazine through allusion alone....

Friedman, needing a steady paycheck, takes on a position with Martin Goodman's magazine factory, where Marvel Comics was born, but the company was making a lot more money at the time from "men's sweat" magazines, including Men and the shortlived attempt at a downmarket "prestige" title, Swank (Friedman notes that Goodman's son would have much greater commercial success with the skin-magazine revival of the Swank title in the decades to come). BJF hires Mario Puzo as one of his writer/editors, and gains a lifelong friend, one of the many writers and other literary folk who gravitate to Friedman, and he to them. The balance of the book follows Friedman's passage, mostly as a social creature, in and out of awkward and occasionally not so awkward adventures with kind women, witty if at times challenging friends (overlapping groups), and the asinine Norman Mailer.

He notes throughout that he titled his book with no irony; that he's had his share of tough times, but that his second marriage has been with the love of his life, Patricia O'Donoghue (their daughter is cheerfully photographed as well), he's managed to keep body and soul together through writing since quitting the Goodman mill, and generally has found ways to amuse himself and others (two chapters in the middle of the book are mostly about the literary scene in the '60s and '70s at the NYC restaurant Elaine's). It's an exceedingly pleasant book by a man who has little left to prove, and yet doesn't seem to be either overly impressed with himself nor unaware of how good his best work is. And while it definitely has the feel of a collection of polished anecdotes from a born storyteller, as he often dubs himself here, retelling them from the viewpoint of someone who's lived for eight decades and has survived many of his best friends (including Puzo and Joseph Heller), he still seems to be making a few discoveries as he writes (as well as lightly mocking himself for the occasional use of dramatic or at times melodramatic turns of phrase), and even without too much searing self-analysis nor literary exegesis of his own work (or anyone else's), one does come away with a sense of how he's managed a remarkable career, and apparently a pretty rewarding life.

Vince Keenan wrote a much more concise review at time of release. It seems odd to suggest this book is remotely "forgotten" (since that release was just last year), but it was issued by a small Canadian press and Vince's review is one of relatively few it's received, at least among those archived on the web, even if one of those was in the NY Times and another was from Kirkus. Worth your time, and the small effort of borrowing or acquisition. Who else, after all, can tell you what it was like to have Natalie Wood, at liberty in a fallow period, assigned to them as a private secretary...a rather depressed and extremely efficient secretary? Though all kinds of people have been drawn into clumsy fistfights by Norman Mailer...

Relevant posts: Nelson Algren's Own Book of Lonesome Monsters

Jules Feiffer: Backing into Forward

Troublemakers. (Even if, despite the covers, their perceptions of gray scales in human events was keen.)

A novel by Muriel Spark, who is sometimes thought of as a sentimentalist, I think, by those who haven't read her (The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie being her most famous work, in prose and in its dramatic adaptations, and I think at times it's lumped in with, say, Goodbye, Mr. happens to be the 111th anniversary of James Hilton's birth today), and a collection of mostly rarities, a slice through the short works of Dallas McCord "Mack" Reynolds, a man sometimes remembered as a writer of action stories... without taking into account the socio-economic themes and more that were among the most important matters for this son of a several-times national candidate for the very doctrinaire US Marxists, the Socialist Labor Party (the oldest US socialist party; founder Daniel De Leon denounced Karl Marx in the 1870s for Marx's own deviations, and Mack Reynolds was eventually purged from the party).

Both books are (happily, if somewhat marginally) in print.

The Public Image is a short novel, mostly told about, as much as from the point of view of, the youngish and rather canny, if not terribly thoughtful, actress Annabel Christopher; Spark is more interested in observing and analyzing her and the rest of the cast of characters than in getting deeply inside their heads, which is fine since no one in the novel gives much evidence of terribly deep thought about anything but their own agenda and the perceived slights they begrudge. Annabel has determined that as an ingenue making her way to all-out film-star status in the 1960s, maintenance of just the right image is crucial to all she holds dear (mostly the welfare of herself and the child she gives birth to in the course of the novel; to a lesser extent her sulkingly alienated husband and other friends). Frederick Christopher for his part plays along for the cameras as a doting husband, while resenting his wife's material success and being overshadowed by that, even though he's managed to establish a creditable career as a screenwriter; some of the hangers-on from the Christophers' young adulthood have not fared so well. Spark makes excellent use of her residence in Italy (she was one of those lifelong traveler-writers, as was Reynolds, in her case out of Scotland) as the setting for the bulk of the story, but she doesn't stint in her mockery of the hypocrisy, irresponsibility, self-importance and self-delusion of the other sorts of human, very much including Britons and Americans, who populate the book. I'm not sure there was again as thorough a damnation of the tabloid press, and its interrelation with the supposedly responsible press, till Donald Westlake's Trust Me on This two decades later, and this is just one of the running concerns. Spark, though old enough to serve in British intelligence during WW2, is essentially one of the Angry Young Humans, rather as was her fellow devout Catholic Graham Greene (she began publishing novels in the late '50s and her first, wonderful collection of short fiction, The Go-Away Bird and Other Stories, came out in 1958 (she'd first published a short story in response to a contest in 1951); however, she was also one who took a very worldly humanist view of her characters' and their predicament, and never moreso than in this book; these folks' lives are no more empty than they want them to be, and the good simple folk are not always so very good in their desire to remain simple, or to force their simplicity onto others. The condescension the male characters, well-meaning and otherwise, bring to Annabel, less pathetic than any of them, is only one of Spark's points (and that's partly also a bit of an inside joke, it seems, as Frederick apparently somewhat echoes a competitive old flame of Spark's). This is a very funny book and a moving one, too even-handed and reasonable to be called savage, but pointed and accurate, a series of very well-thrown darts. As I didn't know, but everyone is quick to note, ex-Sex Pistol John Lydon named his next band Public Image, Ltd. in honor of this a Scottish Catholic Dame Commander of the British Empire, title bestowed by their mutual saved Queen.

The Reynolds collection, one of a series of small books produced by NESFA Press for the annual convention Boskone (to celebrate the guest of honor for the given year), like the others in the series doesn't try to be a representative collection, but rather to gather, as mentioned above, some rarities and "lost" items by the author, and mix them with some of the major work of the GOH. (NESFA also publishes large, retrospective collections of complete short fiction and novel omnibuses by various writers who haven't been given their due by other publishers, including Cyril Kornbluth, Hal Clement, Charles Harness, Philip Klass/"William Tenn," and Paul Linebarger/"Cordwainer Smith"). Oddly, though, this collection does rather represent Reynolds rather well, featuring as it does examples of his classic short fiction, most notably "Pacifist" and "Compounded Interest," along with weaker but still interesting work by a man who too often seemed, as Algis Budrys once noted, to be all engine and no steering wheel: he could produce brilliantly thought-out stories, with uncliched dialogue and characters, and he could produce stories with wooden figures usually having still relatively interesting discussions and arguments in a framework that was otherwise utter hack. And then there are the stories that fall between these poles, such as the early fantasy "Give the Devil His Due" and "Last Warning," his first sf story to sell, to Jerome Bixby at Planet Stories, that sat in inventory for five years (Bixby, probably the magazine's best editor, left Planet, to write "It's a Good Life" and other work, and to edit for other magazines, shortly after the 1949 acceptance). While there's nothing terribly startling about either of these early stories, they do demonstrate Reynolds's wit, in all senses; Fredric Brown took Reynolds under his wing when the young WW2 vet and his wife settled in Taos, New Mexico after a few good short crime-fiction sales, Reynolds's first to Esquire, and a lot of rejections. Brown and Reynolds would collaborate on at least a dozen or so short fictions over the next half-decade, and their joy in arch humor and a good thrown-away phrase was mutual. Reynolds later became the most, or at least one of the most, consistently popular contributors to John Campbell's Analog in the 1960s and the not altogether dissimilar Galaxy and If as edited by James Baen in the 1970s, not least for the kind of story represented here by "Psi Assassin": chatty, to say the least (the next step beyond the engineer's argument story that Hugo Gernsback loved to publish in his pop-science and -technology magazines, which led up to his founding the first all-sf non-dime novel magazine, Amazing Stories), not terribly concerned with verisimilitude if a certain naive cosmopolitanism can be suggested by the characters' concerns, even if they, for plot convenience's sake, don't bother to ask even the simplest useful questions of each other till the author decides to let them do so. Making for rather unbelievable professionals of the first rank, sometimes not so quietly sneering or railing against those fools who get in their way. Reynolds, as a committed leftist who had devoted more thought to the larger matters under discussion than most of the default-rightwing Analog crew from the late '50s onward (not all of them; Harry Harrison was and is of the left, as well), at least usually managed to have something interesting for his characters to say in those interchanges, and also kept the stories fast-moving, even when not convincing. And when he took his time, and let the stories gestate, as with "Pacifist" (can one use selective assassination to create peace?) or with "Compounded Interest" (simply one of the most ingenious of time-travel stories), the incisive satire and clear-eyed view of humanity that Reynolds was ready to offer were difficult to top. Even as trifling a partial re-write of "Pacifist" as the previously unpublished opening story, "Idealist" demonstrates the guiding intelligence at work, even if it gives little credit to his talent. And though he loved fantasticated fiction the most, he never completely gave up on crime fiction, as with his collaboration with August Derleth on the included Solar Pons Sherlockian pastiche (a real pity no Brown collaborations where included).

From the Contento Index:
Compounded Interests Mack Reynolds (NESFA Press 0-915368-20-X, May ’83, $13.00, 161pp, hc)

· Introduction · in
· Idealist · ss *
· Give the Devil His Due [as by Dallas Ross] · ss Fantastic Adventures Oct ’50
· Psi Assassin [Ronnie Bronston] · nv Section G: United Planets, Mack Reynolds, Ace, 1976; revised from Analog Dec ’67.
· Last Warning [“The Galactic Ghost”] · ss Planet Stories Mar ’54
· Depression or Bust [revised from Analog Aug ’67] · nv Depression or Bust, Mack Reynolds, Ace, 1974
· Compleated Angler · ss Startling Stories Fll ’55
· Pacifist · ss F&SF Jan ’64
· The Adventure of the Snitch in Time [Solar Pons] · Mack Reynolds & August Derleth · ss F&SF Jul ’53
· Doctor’s Orders [“Four-Legged Hotfoot”; Johnny Norsen] · ss Fantastic Story Magazine Win ’52
· Good Indian · ss Analog Sep ’62
· Compounded Interest · ss F&SF Aug ’56
· Three Unanswerable Questions · pm *

the Ballantine edition I read.

The books to get first: 
The Best of Mack Reynolds
All the Stories of Muriel Spark

The Years with Ross is a memoir by James Thurber of his experiences, and those of the rest of the The New Yorker crew, with founding editor Harold Ross, a colorful character to say the least and one as full of seeming contradictions as H.L. Mencken, who might be his closest correspondent in American letters in their era...except that, as Thurber noted, Ross could never bring himself to write extensively for publication, after his early career in journalism.

It's also a rare example of a book in print among my entries in this series of reviews, but in discovering it was still in print (since I have the first Book-of-the-Month-Club edition from the 1950s, and first read it some twenty five years ago), I had an opportunity to read Adam Gopnick's self-congratulatory little deposit as foreward to the edition pictured here. In noting, correctly, that Thurber's Ross seems rather a comic figure (a man who consistently affected an aw-shucks Midwestern manner while running a magazine that made a point of insulting Midwesterners on occasion, in favor of presumably un-provincial NYCers at heart if not in address; a man who constantly swore yet blanched at the notion of impropriety of any sort advocated by his ostensibly sophisticated magazine; this is not a man who lacks in comic potential), Gopnick decides that he knows Thurber was merely taking Ross down a peg, and we moderns can clearly see that Thurber was merely resentful of Ross as any writer is of their editor, and today's reader doesn't care about the details of the publishing life in the '30s...what's interesting is the relation between writer and editor, even as so cleverly distorted by grumpy old Thurber-bear. I'm not getting across the full smugness of Gopnick, but it is a pretty remarkable performance, pretty amazingly echoing the sins Gopnick ascribes to Thurber only the younger man commits them less deftly. And, yes, this 21st century reader is indeed interested in the details of publishing in the 1930s, which is why I read books about publishing in the 1930s. Goodness.

But Gopnick isn't completely wrong...Thurber clearly was letting festering irritation out in much of what he wrote about Ross, but unless Thurber made up incidents out of whole cloth, one can see why he might be harboring those resentments, given the capriciousness of much of Ross's the manner of many great yet not consistently correct editors...who were Right even when not correct, by dint of their passion and willingness to shape their medium to fit their vision, as much as the vision of their contributors.

In short, a very useful book, as a look at both Thurber and Ross and how The New Yorker established itself, before becoming the relative bore it became under Shawn and the weathervaning creature it has been since Shawn. And Gopnick's little contribution, and the inclusion of some Thurber memos by the writer's heirs in this edition make it a slight more Interesting experience, it's true.

Two volumes which I enjoyed in part in my earlier years, and which somewhat disappointed, (again) in part because I, unlike many for whom these books were uniformly delightful, had not always been willing (nor forced) to endure some of the targets of the parody, intentional and unintentional, of the work collected in them. Of course, none of the work collected in The Stuffed Owl was meant to be parody; Lewis and Lee simply ranged across the canon of major and near-major poets in English as it was widely understood in 1930 and chose the most purple and self-sabotaging examples they could find from the likes of Wordsworth and Poe, never afraid to go to ridiculous extremes, and others more tone-deaf, while avoiding, for the most part, the more minor and unheralded poets of the previous centuries. While it's difficult to defend much collected here, in what might well be a pioneering volume of its sort, the book taken in large doses at once is more than a little deadening; the worst examples of fustian from experts in fustian are simply well-refined fustian...but taken a bit at a time, the desired effect, of giving perspective to the enshrinement of these artists as unimpeachable (a ridiculous insistence felt much more sharply in 1930 than now, I suspect) is more thoroughly demonstrated.

Likewise, Dwight Macdonald's compilation was brighter for me in many spots than in others, not least the presumption that he should include untranslated material in French (at least untranslated Cervantes I could make a stab at, but surely few cultured Anglophones could be expected to know Spanish, much less the Castilian of his time, and all such people have a working reading knowledge of French!). But it did send me out after the balance of Max Beerbohm's A Christmas Garland, and was my first encounter with the entirety of Wolcott Gibbs's "TIME . . . FORTUNE . . . LIFE . . . LUCE" as opposed to a few choice lines ("Backwards ran sentences until reeled the mind" mostly). And it's a bug crusher, if not quite to the same extent of the more-eclectic if similarly hit-and-miss The Oxford Book of Humorous Prose edited by Frank Muir, so some material is simply more likely to be effective than other inclusions for almost any reader. It probably helped, in comparison, that Bennett Cerf "crowd-sourced" his choices for his YA anthology I recalled the other week, quizzing his kids and their friends and others for suggestions, at least in terms of making for a more satisfying reading experience, as well as perhaps oddly a more consistently interesting one, for the much younger me (and, I suspect, for many other readers) than either of these two more ambitious and many ways pioneering anthologies did for me as an adult. These books are rewarding, as well as monuments in their fields, but simply not as thoroughly delightful as one could hope...and while that's probably not why both are in a sort of shadowy in-print status (since this weekly exercise is all about books of some interest to utter brilliance that face such fates--the Cerf is utterly out of print, the Muir is similarly barely in print after initial publication in 1990...clearly, round number years are ripe for such volumes), it does help them both be more admired than loved.

Table of Contents (courtesy of Modern

Parodies: An Anthology From Chaucer to Beerbohm—-and After

Table of Contents

Edited by Dwight MacDonald
Preface by Dwight MacDonald

After by
JOHN LYLY William Shakespeare
THOMAS NASHE William Shakespeare
JOHN DONNE Sir John Suckling
GEORGE HERBERT Christopher Hervey
JOHN DRYDEN George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham
ROBERT BOYLE Jonathan Swift
JOHN MILTON John Philips
ALEXANDER POPE Isaac Hawkins Browne
JONATHAN SWIFT Isaac Hawkins Browne
ROBERT SOUTHEY G. Canning and J. H. Frere

After by
ROBERT BURNS Shirley Brooks
ROBERT BURNS James Clerk-Maxwell
LORD BYRON Thomas Love Peacock
LORD BYRON J. K. Stephen
WILLIAM WORDSWORTH John Hamilton Reynolds
EDGAR ALLAN POE Thomas Hood, the Younger
EDWARD LEAR Samuel Foote
ALFRED, LORD TENNYSON Algernon Charles Swinburne
WALT WHITMAN Bayard Taylor
HENRY JAMES Max Beerbohm
RUDYARD KIPLING Guy Wetmore Carryl


P.C., X, 36 ….............………... R*DY*RD K*PL*NG
Endeavour ..............…………. .JOHN G*LSW*RTHY
A Sequelula to The Dynasts…..TH*M*'S H*RDY
Scruts …………...................... ARN*LD B*NN*TT
Perkins and Mankind ....……...H. G. W*LLS
A Recollection ....………........ EDM*ND G*SSE
The Sorrows of Millicent …………….. M*R*E C*R*LLI
The Blessedness of Apple-Pie Beds ..... R*CH*RD L* G*LL*"NNE
The Defossilized Plum-Pudding ........... H. G.W*LLS

after by
A. E. HOUSMAN Humbert Wolfe
WALTER DE LA MARE Samuel Hofjenstein
GERTRUDE STEIN Arthur Flegenheimer
MENCKEN and NATHAN Robert Benchley
T. S. ELIOT Henry Reed
T. S. ELIOT "Myra Buttle"
EZRA POUND Gilbert Highet
ROBERT FROST Firman Houghton
ALDOUS HUXLEY Cyril Connolly
J. P. MARQUAND Wolcott Gibbs
JAMES GOULD COZZENS Nathaniel Benchley
JAMES JONES Peter De Vries

The NONSENSE POEMS IN THE Alice BOOKS, by Lewis Carroll;
with the Originals by Dr. Watts and Other Hands
SALAD, by Mortimer Collins
THE POETS AT TEA, by Barry Pain
VARIATIONS OF AN AIR, by G. K. Chesterton
THAT ENGLISH WEATHER, by Ezra Pound and Anon
REVIEWS OF UNWRITTEN BOOKS, by "Baron Corvo" and/or Sholto Douglas
TACITUS'S Scripturae de Populis Consociatis Americae Septentrionalis
TIME . . . FORTUNE . . . LIFE . . . LUCE, by Wolcott Gibbs
The Literary Life on the TIMES
LITERARY LOST & FOUND DEPT., by Robert Benchley
SPEAKING OF BOOKS, by Donald Malcolm
W. B. Scott:
CHICAGO LETTER: Agony, a Sense of Plight
GAETAN FIGNOLE: Pages de Journal
Cyril Connolly:
Paul Jennings:
PRIMITIVISM—ENGLISH: from Cold Comfort Farm, by Stella Gibbons
PRIMITIVISM—AMERICAN: from Torrents of Spring, by Ernest Hemingway
A BALLAD UPON A WEDDING, by Sir John Suckling
MUSEUM TOUR, by James Joyce
THE WEST POINT ADDRESS, by Dwight David Eisenhower
INAUGURAL ADDRESS, by Warren G. Harding

Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Algernon Charles Swinburne
Max Beerhohm
William Faulkner

SELF-PARODIES: Unconscious
Richard Crashaw
Abraham Cowley
Samuel Johnson
Edward Gibbon
George Crabbe
Lord Byron
Edgar Allan Poe
Percy Bysshe Shelley
William Wordsworth
Robert Browning
Thomas Babington Macaulay
Charles Dickens
Walt Whitman
Rudyard Kipling

SCIENTIFICATION (i): The Parameters of Social Movement, a Formal Paradigm,
by Daniel Bell
SCIENTIFICATION (ii): Struwwelpeter, a psychoanalytical interpretation
by Dr. Rudolph Friedmann

L'AFFAIRE LEMOINE, par Marcel Proust
Apres Balzac
Apres Flaubert
Apres Michelet
EXERCICES DE STYLE, par Raymond Queneau

Dinner Bridge
Clemo Uti (The Water Lilies)
I Gaspiri {The Upholsterers)


Related link: Seriously Funny edited by Gerald Nachman

Prose humor magazines:
(even if the first is much more widely-read online, and the second is largely, not completely, cartoon-oriented):

The Onion
Funny Times
Private Eye