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Esquire
Wednesday, July 11th, 2007
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Mere Anarchy

by Woody Allen

Woody Allen, Chick Magnet

A review by Mark Warren

True story: It was sophomore year, in the cafeteria at Ross S. Sterling High School in Baytown, Texas. It was Tuesday, I remember that. I had a beat-up copy of Getting Even, by Woody Allen, that I'd been flashing around, trying to impress a girl named Priscilla, who was sitting across from me finishing her Frito pie. She was small and beautiful. I was desperate for her to notice me, in the way sophomores are desperate, which always results in some stupid operatic gesture. Getting Even had become kind of a religious text to me. How had this book gotten to southeast Texas? Only I understood it. Anyway, I sat there facing Priscilla, the book wide open so that she couldn't possibly miss it. Nothing. I leaned in across the table and asked her if she knew who Woody Allen was. She didn't. What happened next is a blur, but I'm pretty sure I stood up, said something like, "A reading from the book of Woody Allen," and then gave a dramatic oration of "Death Knocks," in which Death comes for Nat Ackerman, but Ackerman beats Death at gin rummy and gets to live longer, forcing Death to look for a hotel. About halfway through, Priscilla got up, said that I was "retarded," and walked out of my life.

Now comes Mere Anarchy, Allen's first new essay collection in 25 years. I'm real happy to say it's funny in the same way that Getting Even was funny when I was 16. I will carry this book around with me, but I'm old now, and I live in New York City, where reading Woody Allen isn't quite as surefire with the chicks. But all you kids out there in your school cafeterias, pick up a copy. I know it'll do for you what it did for me.


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