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Fierce Pajamas: An Anthology of Humor Writing from the New Yorker

by

Fierce Pajamas: An Anthology of Humor Writing from the New Yorker Cover

 

 

Excerpt

SPOOFS

WOLCOTT GIBBS

DEATH IN THE RUMBLE SEAT WITH THE USUAL APOLOGIES TO ERNEST HEMINGWAY,

WHO MUST BE PRETTY SICK OF THIS SORT OF THING

Most people dont like the pedestrian part, and it is best not to look at that if you can help it. But if you cant help seeing them, long-legged and their faces white, and then the shock and the car lifting up a little on one side, then it is best to think of it as something very unimportant but beautiful and necessary artistically. It is unimportant because the people who are pedestrians are not very important, and if they were not being cogido by automobiles it would just be something else. And it is beautiful and necessary because, without the possibility of somebody getting cogido, driving a car would be just like anything else. It would be like reading “Thanatopsis,” which is neither beautiful nor necessary, but hogwash. If you drive a car, and dont like the pedestrian part, then you are one of two kinds of people. Either you havent very much vitality and you ought to do something about it, or else you are yellow and there is nothing to be done about it at all.

If you dont know anything about driving cars you are apt to think a driver is good just because he goes fast. This may be very exciting at first, but afterwards there is a bad taste in the mouth and the feeling of dishonesty. Ann Bender, the American, drove as fast on the Merrick Road as anybody I have ever seen, but when cars came the other way she always worked out of their terrain and over in the ditch so that you never had the hard, clean feeling of danger, but only bumping up and down in the ditch, and sometimes hitting your head on the top of the car. Good drivers go fast too, but it is always down the middle of the road, so that cars coming the other way are dominated, and have to go in the ditch themselves. There are a great many ways of getting the effect of danger, such as staying in the middle of the road till the last minute and then swerving out of the pure line, but they are all tricks, and afterwards you know they were tricks, and there is nothing left but disgust.

The cook: I am a little tired of cars, sir. Do you know any stories?

I know a great many stories, but Im not sure that theyre suitable.

The cook: The hell with that.

Then I will tell you the story about God and Adam and naming the animals. You see, God was very tired after he got through making the world. He felt good about it, but he was tired so he asked Adam if hed mind thinking up names for the animals.

“What animals?” Adam said.

“Those,” God said.

“Do they have to have names?” Adam said.

“Youve got a name, havent you?” God said.

I could see-

The cook: How do you get into this?

Some people always write in the first person, and if you do its very hard to write any other way, even when it doesnt altogether fit into the context. If you want to hear this story, dont keep interrupting.

The cook: O.K.

I could see that Adam thought God was crazy, but he didnt say anything. He went over to where the animals were, and after a while he came back with the list of names.

“Here you are,” he said.

God read the list, and nodded.

“Theyre pretty good,” he said. “Theyre all pretty good except that last one.”

“Thats a good name,” Adam said. “Whats the matter with it?”

“What do you want to call it an elephant for?,” God said.

Adam looked at God.

“It looks like an elephant to me,” he said.

The cook: Well?

Thats all.

The cook: It is a very strange story, sir.

It is a strange world, and if a man and a woman love each other, that is strange too, and what is more, it always turns out badly.

In the golden age of car-driving, which was about 1910, the sense of impending disaster, which is a very lovely thing and almost nonexistent, was kept alive in a number of ways. For one thing, there was always real glass in the windshield so that if a driver hit anything, he was very definitely and beautifully cogido. The tires werent much good either, and often theyd blow out before youd gone ten miles. Really, the whole car was built that way. It was made not only so that it would precipitate accidents but so that when the accidents came it was honestly vulnerable, and it would fall apart, killing all the people with a passion that was very fine to watch. Then they began building the cars so that they would go much faster, but the glass and the tires were all made so that if anything happened it wasnt real danger, but only the false sense of it. You could do all kinds of things with the new cars, but it was no good because it was all planned in advance. Mickey Finn, the German, always worked very far into the other cars terrain so that the two cars always seemed to be one. Driving that way he often got the faender, or the clicking when two cars touch each other in passing, but because you knew that nothing was really at stake it was just an empty classicism, without any value because the insecurity was all gone and there was nothing left but a kind of mechanical agility. It is the same way when any art gets into its decadence. It is the same way about s-x-

The cook: I like it very much better when you talk about s-x, sir, and I wish you would do it more often.

I have talked a lot about s-x before, and now I thought I would talk about something else.

The cook: I think that is very unfortunate, sir, because you are at your best with s-x, but when you talk about automobiles you are just a nuisance.

From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780375761270
Editor:
Remnick, David
Editor:
Finder, Henry
Editor:
Remnick, David
Editor:
Finder, Henry
Author:
Remnick, David
Author:
de Vries, Peter
Author:
Edited by David Remnick and Henry Finder
Author:
Peter De Vries
Author:
Finder, Henry
Publisher:
Modern Library
Location:
New York
Subject:
General
Subject:
American wit and humor
Subject:
General Humor
Subject:
Humor : General
Subject:
Literary
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Paperback
Series:
Modern Library Paperbacks
Series Volume:
1.
Publication Date:
20021031
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
336
Dimensions:
8 x 5.25 in

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Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Humor » Anthologies
Arts and Entertainment » Humor » General
Fiction and Poetry » Anthologies » General
Fiction and Poetry » Anthologies » Readers from Magazines
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
History and Social Science » Journalism » General

Fierce Pajamas: An Anthology of Humor Writing from the New Yorker Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$6.95 In Stock
Product details 336 pages Modern Library - English 9780375761270 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

This makes the perfect gift for those who love a literary hit with their humor. A wonderful wide-ranging selection to read aloud with others or simply snicker at in the privacy of one's own personal reading space.

"Review" by , "A complete delight from beginning to end."
"Review" by , "Classic humor writing from a fantasy slumber party of writers."
"Review" by , "Quite simply among the greatest stuff like this ever written...There is comic brilliance in these pages....[Fierce Pajamas] is more than worth your time, your money and the potential damage to your funny bone."
"Review" by , "The New Yorker's fine anthology of humor writing can inspire us to collectively bemoan the scarcity of a certain kind of printed comedy: the subtle and sophisticated type."
"Synopsis" by ,
Without A Stitch in Time is a collection of articles written for The New Yorker: gently satirical stories about Peters childhood in Chicago, his various jobs, the move East to new York, and family life in suburbia and beyond. The stories date from 1943 to 1873 and give readers a sense of where De Vries strangely nervous wit comes from: verbal sparks from the cognitive dissonance between his strict and abstemious Calvinist upbringing in the 1920s and the world of 1950s Mad Men suburbia.
"Synopsis" by , When Harold Ross founded The New Yorker in 1925, he called it a “comic weekly.” And although it has become much more than that, it has remained true in its irreverent heart to the founders description, publishing the most illustrious literary humorists in the modern era—among them Robert Benchley, Dorothy Parker, Groucho Marx, James Thurber, S. J. Perelman, Mike Nichols, Woody Allen, Calvin Trillin, Garrison Keillor, Ian Frazier, Roy Blount, Jr., Steve Martin, and Christopher Buckley. Fierce Pajamas is a treasury of laughter from the magazine W. H. Auden called the “best comic magazine in existence.”
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