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The Best of Robert Benchley -- 72 Timeless Stories of Wit, Wisdom & Whimsy

Robert Benchley

106 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0517411393 / ISBN 13: 9780517411391
Published by Wings, U.S.A., 1996
Condition: Near Fine + Hardcover
From Heidelberg Books (Olivebridge, NY, U.S.A.)

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About this Item

**First Printing (Full letter line starting with a, thru h). Hardcover in near fine condition that has slight minor soiling on top and bottom page edges. The dust jacket is in near fine condition with slight edge wear on some extremities. Bookseller Inventory # 001225

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Bibliographic Details

Title: The Best of Robert Benchley -- 72 Timeless ...

Publisher: Wings, U.S.A.

Publication Date: 1996

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:Near Fine +

Dust Jacket Condition: Near Fine

Edition: 1st Edition

About this title

Synopsis:

Seventy-two timeless pieces celebrate the humorous side of life's annoyances and the author's suggestions for coping--or not coping--with them, and address such topics as government imbibing and Christmas finances.

Review:

"It took me fifteen years to discover that I had no talent for writing, but I couldn't give it up because by then I was too famous." --Robert Benchley

Such wildly inaccurate self-deprecation is typical of Robert Benchley. In his lifetime he was known as a critic, a humorist, an actor, and an auteur, while the weekly luncheons he shared at the famous Algonquin Hotel Round Table with other luminaries such as Dorothy Parker and Alexander Wollcott became the stuff of legend. Famous, he was, indeed--but also a very fine writer, a fact readers can judge for themselves in The Best of Robert Benchley, a compendium of 72 of his funniest stories. There is, for example, his meditation on the future of the species, Future Man: Tree or Mammal, in which he posits that the humans of the future will be both brightly dressed and legless (you'll have to read the essay to find out why); or The Real Public Enemies, in which he laments the hostility of inanimate objects: "Take for example, when you are trying to read a newspaper on top of a bus. Suppose you want to open it to page four. The thing to do is not to hold it up and try to turn it as you would an ordinary newspaper. If you do, it will turn into a full-rigged brigantine, each sheet forming a sail and will crash head-on into your face, blinding you and sometimes carrying you right off the bus." His solution? Deceit: "Say, as if talking to yourself, 'Well, I guess I'll turn to page seven.' Or better yet, let the paper overhear you say, 'Oh, well, I guess I won't read any more.'"

Benchley's ruminations are almost always on small matters: playing cards, attending banquet dinners, home repairs; yet they are universal experiences. Who has not, at some point in his or her life, stood in an impossibly long line at the post office, only to discover, upon finally arriving at the counter, that some essential element of the letter or package has been done incorrectly or left undone entirely? No subject is too small or too trivial to escape Benchley's notice, yet he invests each with the trappings of epic conflict--underdog Benchley against the newspaper, or hay fever, or noise--struggles which all too often leave him bloodied but unbowed.

Benchley was kinder than Dorothy Parker, less manic than S.J. Perlman, not quite so curmudgeonly as James Thurber--and arguably the funniest of them all. This collection serves as a living memorial to one of the century's great comic geniuses. --Alix Wilber

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