Synopses & Reviews
A tour de force, Funny is a stunning masterpiece of poetic, as well as philosophic and comic, invention. It creates a musing world, where the issues are philosophical but the focus is always on people, on our most private ways of balancing our accounts. The poems are psychological; tender and humane, and somehow ruthless. This is poetry that swarms with ideas, that revels in rhythmic intricacy and literary references, but is also clear as a bell, and tells marvelous stories.
"Hecht's sophomore effort is one of the most entertaining, and most original, books of the year. Its conceit, barring a few introductory sonnets, is to riff on jokes-become-aphorisms, dismantling assumptions as quickly as she dishes punch lines. 'What did the sadist do to the masochist?/ Nothing' generates a brisk, hyperintelligent lyric about the ideas of need and mastery, studded by frequent half-rhymes and internal rhymes. 'How many gorillas does it take/ to screw in a lightbulb?' prompts three pages of subtle, wise meditation on human evolution and human error. 'Are You Not Glad?' turns a knock-knock joke into smart couplets about regret and love: 'Orange you glad? No, I'm not. I ate the berries./ I was hungry. I was young.' Switching deftly between the caricatured protagonists of the jokes themselves and more nuanced memories from real lives, Hecht sees how many jokes depend on familiarity and surprise, and how many highlight the disappointments ordinary experience can provide: 'One way or another we all become/ the other.' The New York based Hecht (The Next Ancient World), who also writes books of popular philosophy (Doubt: A History), appends a neat 11-page prose essay about the relations between jokes and poems: even without the essay, this book brings the two forms tantalizingly close." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Funny leaves no doubt that humor has finally reclaimed its legitimate place in American poetry. Playing off a catalogue of jokes which we all recognize, as well as serious theories about the comic, Jennifer Michael Hecht has produced a collection like no other. Her poems are delights, transparently readable yet carefully crafted, precisely poised.”Billy Collins
About the Author
Jennifer Michael Hecht is a historian who has published several scholarly volumes and one previous collection of poetry. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.