Synopses & Reviews
More seriously funny writing from American's most trusted humor anthology
Witty, wise, and just plain wonderful, the inaugural volume of this biennial, Mirth of a Nation, ensured a place for the best contemporary humor writing in the country. And with this second treasury, Michael J. Rosen has once again assembled a triumphant salute to one of America's greatest assets: its sense of humor. More than five dozen acclaimed authors showcase their hilariously inventive works, including Paul Rudnick, Henry Alford, Susan McCarthy, Media Person Lewis Grossberger, Ian Frazier, Richard Bausch, Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Nell Scovell, Andy Borowitz, and Ben Greenman -- just to mention a handful so that the other contributors can justify their feelings that the world slights them.
But there's more! More Mirth of a Nation includes scads of Unnatural Histories from Randy Cohen, Will Durst's "Top Top-100 Lists" (including the top 100 colors, foods, and body parts), and three unabridged (albeit rather short) chapbooks:
David Bader's "How to Meditate Faster" (Enlightenment for those who keep asking, "Are we done yet?")
Matt Neuman's "49 Simple Things You Can Do to Save the Earth" (for instance, "Make your own honey" and "Share your shower.")
Francis Heaney's "Holy Tango of Poetry" (which answers the question, "What if poets wrote poems whose titles were anagrams of their names, i.e., 'Toilets,' by T. S. Eliot?")
And there's still more: "The Periodic Table of Rejected Elements," meaningless fables, Van Gogh's Etch A Sketch drawings, a Zagat's survey of existence, an international baby-naming encyclopedia, Aristotle's long-lost treatise "On Baseball," and an unhealthy selection of letters from Dr. Science's mailbag. And that's just for starters! Just remember, as one reviewer wrote of the first volume, "Don't drink milk while reading."
Already a Perennial favorite and a frontrunner for Americas best celebration of humor writing, Mirth of a Nation was resoundingly cheered: the cream of the current humorist crop (Richmond Times-Dispatch), a creative, engaging humor collection (Chicago Tribune), and a welcome companion (Booklist). Poor Boston Globe reviewer Katherine Powers found herself laughing uncontrollably. In More Mirth of a Nation 65 writers deck the halls of hilarity: Ian Frazier reports on his marriage to Liz Taylor, Rick Moranis offers internet stock tips, Merrill Markoe finds Buddhism while shopping, and Andy Borowitz pens a memoir of Emily Dickinson. With witty, wise work by Bruce McCall, Bobbie Ann Mason, Paul Rudnick, Henry Alford, Tony Hendra, Will Durst, Richard Bausch, and Susan McCarthy, this book features the undiscovered Etch-a-Sketch drawings of Van Gogh, a Zagats Survey of existence, Aristotles long-lost treatise On Baseball, and One-Minute Histories by The Ethicist Randy Cohen. Once again, Rosen has gathered a triumphant salute to one of Americas greatest assets: its humor.
About the Author
The editor of More Mirth of a Nation: The Best Contemporary Humor,
Michael J. Rosen has been called the unofficial organizer of the National Humor Writer's Union, a pretty good idea for an organization that could offer all kinds of benefits to its struggling members (currently numbering more than 300 who have never been published in The New Yorker
or aired on NPR). He has been called other things as well, like in third grade, and then in seventh grade especially, by certain older kids known as "hoods," who made his life miserable, specifically during gym class, lunch period and after school. Later, much later, the Washington Post
called him a "fidosopher" because of his extensive publications on dogs, dog training, and dog-besotted people. The New York Times
called him an example of creative philanthropy in their special "Giving" section for persuading "writers, artists, photographers and illustrators to contribute their time and talents to books" that benefit Share Our Strength's anti-hunger efforts and animal-welfare causes. As an author of a couple dozen books for children, he's been called...okay, enough with the calling business.
For nearly twenty years, he served as literary director at the Thurber House, a cultural center in the restored home of James Thurber. Garrison Keillor, bless his heart, called it (sorry) "the capital of American humor." While there, Rosen helped to create The Thurber Prize for American Humor, a national book award for humor writing, and edited four anthologies of Thurber's previously unpublished and uncollected work, most recently The Dog Department: James Thurber on Hounds, Scotties and Talking Poodles, happily published by HarperCollins as well.
In his capacity as editor for this biennial, Rosen reads manuscripts year round, beseeching and beleaguering the nation's most renowned and well-published authors, and fending off the rants and screeds from folks who've discovered the ease of self-publishing on the web. Last summer, Rosen edited a lovely book, 101 Damnations: The Humorists' Tour of Personal Hells; while some critics (all right, one rather outspoken friend) considered this a book of complaints, Rosen has argued that humor, like voting and picketing and returning an appliance that "worked" all of four months before requiring a repair that costs twice the purchase price, humor is about the desire for change. It's responding to the way things are compared to the way you'd like things to be. And it's a much more convivial response than pouting or cornering unsuspecting guests at dinner parties.