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Archyologyby Don Marquis
Synopses & Reviews
In this second and final volume "composed" by Archy, the literary cockroach, the wonderfully whimsical insect and his fractious feline friend, Mehitabel, engage in misadventures large and small and comment with quirky accuracy on the common state of humanity. Previously unpublished in book form and literally recovered from a steamer trunk by editor Jeff Adams, these stories are the product of Don Marquis, a New York columnist and raconteur who was one of America's most popular humorists during the early 20th century.
Ungrammatical as they may be, Archy's wry insights are a true delight, for, as he put it, "one advantage of being a cockroach is that I see things from the under side". From that unique perspective we follow the continuing saga of Archy, the Cockroach Detective, a spoof on the gumshoe genre in which the six-legged private eye encounters a raja, his chorus-girl harem, Bolshevist twins, an Egyptologist, seven sister manicurists, and a set of bejeweled false teeth. Accompanied by the inspired drawings of cartoonist Ed Frascino, these new Archy tales are, Adams writes, "classic American humor, as vivid and amusing today as they were decades ago"."
"Talk about blasts from the past! ... Marquis' genial humor abounds. A delightful rediscovery, not least because Ed Frascino's cartoon illustrations compare very well with those by Krazy Kat creator George Herriman in the original collections ... a lasting fandom will rejoice in these previously uncollected exploits". — Booklist
"The whole book is a pleasure: the right words in the right places with the right drawings. Delightful drawings". — George Booth
"A genuine old wine-in-new-bottles venture, archyology should bringthe archy cultists — dare I say it? — right out of the woodwork". — Washington Post Book World
"Archy's profound musings on love, politics, and much, much more are perfectly illustrated by Edward Frascino's witty and beautiful drawings". — Roz Chast
Archy and his racy pal Mehitabel are timeless, noted E. B. White in his essay on Don Marquis and his famous creations, and the undimmed enthusiasm of several generations of fans — who every year buy thousands of copies of Marquis' earlier collections — testifies to their appeal. A whimsical and sophisticated sage, archy the cockroach entertained readers with iconoclastic observations on pretensions, politics, and our place in the cosmos during Marquis' career as a New York newspaper columnist in the 1920s and 30s.
Allegedly tapping out stories at night by leaping from key to key on Marquis' typewriter, archy couldn't quite manage the shift key for capital letters. Although his tales appeared in lower case, his views achieved a level grand enough to solidify Marquis' reputation as an American humorist in the tradition of Mark Twain, Joel Chandler Harris, and Ring Lardner. archyology brings together selected lost tales that were literally rescued from oblivion by Jeff Adams, who found them among papers stored in a steamer trunk since Marquis' death.
And so archy emerges from his long silence. Whether reporting on characters like emmet the ghost, sailing to Paris to visit the insects of Europe, being trapped for days in a New York subway train, or hanging out in a Long Island orchard enjoying fermented cherries, archy is always both provocative and inimitable. With illustrations by Ed Frascino, a New Yorker regular, this collection reintroduces a delightful cast of characters who reconfirm archy's view of the world: the only way to live with it is to laugh at it.
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