McSweeney’s Joke Book of Book Jokes

mcsweeneys

I wanted to finish this book first before I truly started on PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES (and yes, I think I must address that novel in that manner; it feels required to do so).

If anyone is not familiar with McSweeney’s, I would suggest you head over there and look around for a minute or too. The Joke Book of Book Jokes is full of short stories, lists, etc. related to books, writing, and general literary geekery.

Here’s my review: I LOVED IT. If you like books, classic literature, creative writing, anything of that ilk, and in addition to that you like laughing, this is the book for you.
From Goofus, Gallant, Rashomon:

Brandon, Junior-college classmate of Goofus: Was Goofus a rebel? He sure liked to think so. He cultivated that tousled-hair thing. He wouldn’t go out unless he thought the hair was prominent enough. I sat in his living room for forty-five minutes once waiting for him to sculpt it into the perfect unkempt shape. But that roughness was skin deep. I knew he’d be easy pickings in a real fight.

When I read this, I immediately thought of Ted Mosby from How I Met Your Mother.

From Klingon Fairy Tales:

“Snow White and the Six Dwarves She Killed with Her Bare Hands and the Seventh Dwarf She Let Get Away as a Warning to Others”

From Unpublished Coda to Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird:

Now, in a desperate effort to keep Atticus amused, the animals worked on expanding their repertoires. The prairie dogs had a new precision dance routine every Saturday night, and the rumor was that they were beginning to look into some sort of synchronized-swimming thing, but the seals and sea lions were unwilling to help. The polar bears and grizzly bears had their soccer matches, and the penguins — well, the penguins were just so fucking charming, there was no way Atticus was going to harm them. Everyone hated the penguins.

… Who knew — until that fateful night of the talent show — that [the kangaroo’s] pouches were big enough to conceal a crossbow? And who knew what could happen to a kangaroo when it had lost the power to charm?

Titles of note:

  • Dateline: To Catch a Predator: Humbert Humbert
  • Ikea Product or Lord of the Rings Character?
  • John Updike, Television Writer (Including Gilligan’s Island)
  • Whale of Mass Destruction — Richard B. Cheney, Adjunct Professor in the Humanities, Presents: The Annual Symbolism in Melville Lecture

Other funny bits:
From Thrilling Chapter Endings You May Use in Your Next Novel:

The crowd suddenly hushed. There, in the doorway, stood the evil Colonel Maldefore.
Note: Colonel Maldefore does not need to be a major character in your novel for this ending to work. In fact, the thrilling effect may be greater if he just randomly shows up every now and then.

I liked this one, because this is the exact technique I intend to use in everything I ever write, except instead of Colonel Maldefore, my random character is Boris Mechanikov.

From Celebrity Biographies Written by a Guy Who Cannot Distinguish Fiction From Reality:

Harrison Ford: …Although he was briefly accused (and then exonerated) of killing his wife, it came as no surprise when, in 1997, Mr. Ford was elected President James Marshall and foiled a Kazakh terrorist attack (led by Dracula, no less!) by simply asking the terrorists to get off his plane. After doing some other things no one really cares about, he started dating single female lawyer Calista Flockhart.

The reason this is so funny is because it’s actually a Futurama reference.

Another thing that is only funny to me: Jean-Paul Sartre, 911 Operator. I read No Exit and Les Jeux Sont Faites in French V AP back in high school – not to mention Albert Camus’s L’Etranger. In French, guys – the actual French. We were not allowed to read the translated versions. Consequently, I had a somewhat thorough grounding in existentialism, and because I’m a geek and kind of mean, I now find anything remotely related to Jean-Paul Sartre or the existentialist movement extremely funny. Guys, I’m not even kidding – I giggled through the entire piece when reading it this afternoon. Flat-out giggled. The sad thing? It’s probably only funny to me and a handful of people who had to slog through Sartre in French.

Now, Words and Expressions Commonly Misused by Insipid Brothers-in-Law, I want to print the whole damn thing out and post it in the office at work. Unfortunately, I will not be able to do that, because a) it has profanity and other violent terms (see below), and b) we’re cleaning the office this week, and we probably aren’t allowed to have personal items at work, even to lighten up the soul-killing monotony of working there. I know I won’t be able to post my Dinosaur Comic anymore.

Anyway, here’s my favorite paragraph:

In the name of everything that is good and holy, please, do not ever, ever, ever say “IRREGARDLESS” anywhere near me. What you mean to say is “REGARDLESS.” REGARDLESS of whether or not you think of the English language as solely a means of ordering more sushi or bragging about your BMW, its rules must be respected, and there is no such fucking word as “IRREGARDLESS.” It makes you sound even more stupid than you actually are. The prefix “IR-” is a negative. The suffix “-LESS” is a negative. How many fucking negatives do you need in one goddamned word? So help me God, I will beat the shit out of you with a tire iron.

Finally, I would like to leave you with Holden Caulfield [Giving] the Commencement Speech to his High School:
You’re all a bunch of goddam phonies.

Grade for McSweeney’s Joke Book of Book Jokes: 4 stars

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