Sunday, September 09, 2007

Ant Farm by Simon Rich

This is the book of humorous essays I got from the library yesterday; I just kept picking it up and reading one more piece. (They're all very short -- two to three pages at most -- so it's harder to stop reading than to just keep going.) And, by the end of the day, I'd come to the end.

Inevitably, I compared Ant Farm to Woody Allen's Mere Anarchy in my head, since I read the two so close together. Allen is witty and erudite, but I have to say Rich is just funnier. I laughed out loud at nearly every one of Rich's essays, and there are something like fifty of them in this book. So, sure, it's a quick read, but it's a quick read of really funny stuff.

For example, here's a bit from a piece called "I still remember the day I got my first calculator," in which the fourth-grade narrator questions his teacher
ME: What the hell else do you have back there? A magical pen that writes book reports by itself? Some kind of automatic social studies worksheet that...that fills itself out? What the hell is going on? [...] So that's it, then. The past three years have been a total farce, All this time I've been thinking, "Well this is pretty hard and frustrating but I guess these are useful skills to have." Meanwhile, there was a whole bin of these things in your desk. We could have jumped straight to graphing. Unless, of course, there's some kind of graphing calculator!
TEACHER: There is. You get one in ninth grade.
Rich's humor is mostly at that level, in the old tradition of the dichotomy of what you expect and what you get. He's got the Dog X-Files, why packages say "may or may not contain peanuts," God giving a pep talk to one of those lunatics who say they talk to God, the last male striped panda attempting to make small talk to a female, and lots of lots of stuff about kids in school.

The bottom line: this book is damn funny. If you're not utterly stupid, or unable to read English, it will make you laugh.

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