front cover of And Quiet Flows the Vodka
And Quiet Flows the Vodka
or When Pushkin Comes to Shove: The Curmudgeon's Guide to Russian Literature with the Devil's Dictionary of Received Ideas
Alicia Chudo
Northwestern University Press, 2000
Russia has fascinated outsiders for centuries, and according to Alicia Chudo, it is high time this borscht stopped. In this hilarious send up of Russian literature and history, Chudo takes no prisoners as she examines Russia's great tradition of unreadable geniuses, revolutionaries who can't hit the broad side of a tsar, and Soviets who like their vodka but love their tractors.

Written in the tradition of 1066 and All That, The Pooh Perplex, and The Classics Redefined, And Quiet Flows the Vodka will, with any luck, be the final word on the ghastly first two millennia of Russian literature, history, and culture.
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front cover of As Ding Saw Herbert Hoover
As Ding Saw Herbert Hoover
Jay N. Darling
University of Iowa Press, 1996

Ding Darling was a Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist whose work appeared daily on the front page of the Des Moines Register between 1906 and 1949 and also was syndicated in 135 newspapers across the country. A brief encounter with Herbert Hoover during World War I was the beginning of a friendship that lasted until Ding’s death in 1962. After Hoover’s election as president, Ding’s relationship changed somewhat from one of strictly a friend to one of an unofficial advisor. On at least three occasions, the Darlings were overnight guests at the White House. Although their friendship deepened after the years of the presidency, Ding did not agree with Hoover on everything. In As “Ding” Saw Herbert Hoover, Ding interprets the career of Hoover as food administrator, cabinet member, candidate, and president in 57 cartoons, personal recollections, and a running commentary of the times as told in the day-by-day headlines.

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front cover of The Bravest Pets of Gotham
The Bravest Pets of Gotham
Tales of Four-Legged Firefighters of Old New York
Peggy Gavan
Rutgers University Press, 2024
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, the New York Fire Department permitted firemen to keep one dog, one cat, or singing birds in their firehouse. Since the firemen were required to live and work at the firehouse full time, these animal mascots—along with the horses that pulled the fire trucks—were their constant companions, making a dangerous workplace feel more like home. 
 
The Bravest Pets of Gotham takes readers on a fun historical tour of Old New York, sharing touching and comical stories about the bond between FDNY firefighters and their four-legged or feathered friends. The book contains more than 100 astonishing, emotional, and sometimes hilariously absurd tales of the FDNY animal mascots whose extraordinary intelligence, acts of bravery, and funny antics deserve to be remembered. Some anecdotes depict fire companies that broke the one-pet rule and welcomed a veritable menagerie of animals into their firehouses, including goats, turtles, and even monkeys. Whether you are an animal lover, a history buff, or a fan of firefighting, The Bravest Pets of Gotham is full of stories that will thrill and amuse you. 
 
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The Cat Men of Gotham
Tales of Feline Friendships in Old New York
Peggy Gavan
Rutgers University Press, 2019
Winner of the 2019 Certificate of Excellence and MUSE Medallion from the Cat Writers Association

The nineteenth century was a rough time to be a stray cat in New York City. The city’s human residents dealt with feline overpopulation by gassing unwanted cats or tossing them in rivers. But a few lucky strays were found by a diverse array of men—including firemen, cops, athletes, and politicians—who rescued them from the streets and welcomed them into their homes and hearts.
 
This book tells the stories of these heroic cat men of Gotham and their beloved feline companions. Not only does it introduce us to some remarkable men, but we get to meet many extraordinary cats as well, from Chinese stowaways prowling the Chelsea Piers to the sole feline survivor of the USS Maine explosion. Among the forty-two profiles, we find many feline Cinderella stories, as humble alley cats achieved renown as sports team mascots, artists’ muses, and even presidential pets.
 
Sure to appeal to cat fanciers and history fans alike, The Cat Men of Gotham will give you a new appreciation for Old New York and the people and animals who made it their home. As it takes you on a journey through the streets of Manhattan and Brooklyn, it will amuse and astound you with tales of powerful men and their pussycats.
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Consuming Anxieties
Alcohol, Tobacco, and Trade in British Satire, 1660-1751
Dayne C. Riley
Bucknell University Press, 2024
Writers of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries—a period of vast economic change—recognized that the global trade in alcohol and tobacco promised a brighter financial future for England, even as overindulgence at home posed serious moral pitfalls. This engaging and original study explores how literary satirists represented these consumables—and related anxieties about the changing nature of Britishness—in their work. Riley traces the satirical treatment of wine, beer, ale, gin, pipe tobacco, and snuff from the beginning of Charles II’s reign, through the boom in tobacco’s popularity, to the end of the Gin Craze in libertine poems and plays, anonymous verse, ballad operas, and the satire of canonical writers such as Gay, Pope, and Swift. Focusing on social concerns about class, race, and gender, Consuming Anxieties examines how satirists championed Britain’s economic strength on the world stage while critiquing the effects of consumable luxuries on the British body and consciousness.
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The Dadly Virtues
Adventures from the Worst Job You'll Ever Love
Jonathan V. Last
Templeton Press, 2015
From the all-star cast who brought you The Seven Deadly Virtues comes a book with a look at the good life… or the crazy-stressful-overwhelmed life… of a father.

The Dadly Virtues is a tongue-in-cheek collection of encouragement and guidance for any stage of fatherhood, from pacifying babies to prepping for senior prom, from cutting the cord to getting the first, “Best Grandpa” t-shirt. P.J. O’Rourke sets the stage with the chapter, “What Do Men Get from Fatherhood? Besides What They Put In …” and then is followed by:
•Matthew Continetti’s, “Newborn Terror: The Moment You Realize that ‘Bundle of Joy’ Is a Euphemism for Something Very Different.”
•Stephen F. Hayes’ “Siblings: The Best Gift You’ll Ever Give Your Kids.”
•Jonah Goldberg’s “Get Your Kid a Dog: The Moral Case for Pets.”
•Tucker Carlson’s “In Praise of Adventure: How to Fill a Child’s Life with Excitement and Danger (without Getting Them Killed).”
•Michael Graham’s, “Dating: Enjoy the Movie and Please Keep the Impregnation to a Minimum.”
•Christopher Caldwell’s “College: It’s Not as Bad as You Think; It’s Worse.”
•Andrew Ferguson’s “Emerging Adults and Empty Nesters: Just When You Had Fatherhood All Figured Out.”
•Toby Young’s “The Dark Side: Bad Parenting and the Things We Think, but Do Not Say.”
•Joseph Epstein’s “Thanks, Grandpa: Grandfatherhood and the Spirit of the Age.”
•And more.

Father-to-be, two-time-dad, or granddad, each essay will make you laugh and, at the same time, reinforce your commitment to the virtuous—the dadly—life.
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front cover of The Dance of the Comedians
The Dance of the Comedians
The People, the President, and the Performance of Political Standup Comedy in America
Peter M. Robinson
University of Massachusetts Press, 2010
Why did Barack Obama court Jon Stewart and trade jokes with Stephen Colbert during the campaign of 2008? Why did Sarah Palin forgo the opportunity to earn votes on the Sunday morning political talk shows but embrace the chance to get laughs on Saturday Night Live? The Dance of the Comedians examines the history behind these questions—the merry, mocking, and highly contested anarchies of standup political comedy that have locked humorists, presidents, and their fellow Americans in an improvisational three-way "dance" since the early years of the American republic.

Peter M. Robinson shows how the performance of political humor developed as a celebration of democracy and an expression of political power, protest, and commercial profit. He places special significance on the middle half of the twentieth century, when presidents and comedians alike—from Calvin Coolidge to Ronald Reagan, from Will Rogers to Saturday Night Live's "Not Ready for Prime Time Players"—developed modern understandings of the power of laughter to affect popular opinion and political agendas, only to find the American audience increasingly willing and able to get in on the act. These years put the long-standing traditions of presidential deference profoundly in play as all three parties to American political humor—the people, the presidents, and the comedy professionals—negotiated their way between reverence for the office of the presidency and ridicule of its occupants.

Although the focus is on humor, The Dance of the Comedians illuminates the process by which Americans have come to recognize that the performance of political comedy has serious and profound consequences for those on all sides of the punch line.
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Danger, Man Working
Writing from the Heart, the Gut, and the Poison Ivy Patch
Arenas
Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2017

"Every writer has advice for aspiring writers. Mine is predicated on formative years spent cleaning my father’s calf pens: Just keep shoveling until you’ve got a pile so big, someone has to notice. The fact that I cast my life’s work as slung manure simply proves that I recognize an apt metaphor when I accidentally stick it with a pitchfork. . . . Poetry was my first love, my gateway drug—still the poets are my favorites—but I quickly realized I lacked the chops or insights to survive on verse alone. But I wanted to write. Every day. And so I read everything I could about freelancing, and started shoveling." 

The pieces gathered within this book draw on fifteen years of what Michael Perry calls "shovel time"—a writer going to work as the work is offered. The range of subjects is wide, from musky fishing, puking, and mountain-climbing Iraq War veterans to the frozen head of Ted Williams. Some assignments lead to self-examination of an alarming magnitude (as Perry notes, "It quickly becomes obvious that I am a self-absorbed hypochondriac forever resolving to do better nutritionally and fitness-wise but my follow-through is laughable.") But his favorites are those that allow him to turn the lens outward: "My greatest privilege," he says, "lies not in telling my own story; it lies in being trusted to tell the story of another."

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front cover of Dirty Jokes and Bawdy Songs
Dirty Jokes and Bawdy Songs
The Uncensored Life of Gershon Legman
Susan G. Davis
University of Illinois Press, 2019
Collector of sexual folklore. Cataloger of erotica. Tireless social critic. Gershon Legman's singular, disreputable resume made him a counter-cultural touchstone during his forty-year exile in France. Despite his obscurity today, Legman’s prescient work and passion for the prurient laid the groundwork for our contemporary study of the forbidden.Susan G. Davis follows the life and times of the figure driven to share what he found in civilization's secret libraries. Self-taught and fiercely unaffiliated, Legman collected the risqué on street corners and in theaters and dug it out of little-known archives. If the sexual humor he uncovered often used laughter to disguise hostility and fear, he still believed it indispensable to the human experience. Davis reveals Legman in all his prickly, provocative complexity as an outrageous nonconformist thundering at a wrong-headed world while reveling in conflict, violating laws and boundaries with equal abandon, and pursuing love and improbable adventures. Through it all, he maintained a kaleidoscopic network of friends, fellow intellectuals, celebrity admirers, and like-minded obsessives.
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front cover of Dog and Gun
Dog and Gun
A Few Loose Chapters on Shooting, Among Which Will Be Found Some Anecdotes and Incidents
Johnson J. Hooper, with an Introduction by Philip D. Beidler
University of Alabama Press, 1992
The least well known of Johnson Jones Hooper’s works, Dog and Gun was first published as a newspaper series, then appeared in six book editions between 1856 and 1871. Hooper is Alabama’s most celebrated antebellum author, and here he gives insight into the meaning of a culture where every male hunts – and a man who shoots as a gentleman will be assumed a gentleman. Beidler’s introduction to this reprint edition explores the social, literary, and technical dimensions of Dog and Gun, which he sees as an important commentary on class distinctions in the antebellum South, as well as a straightforward treatise on hunting.
 
Although the book is a manual for the hunter, with characteristic humor and a certain disdain, Hooper gives a full picture of the gentlemanly sport of hunting – clearly distinct from hunting for food – in all aspects including hunter, weaponry, and sporting dogs. He takes us back to an autumnal ritual of the hunt, where one is always a boy with his first gun – to the natural mystery of quest, competition, predation, pursuit, survival, bravery, endurance, and eventual defeat, called the mystery of the hunt.
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front cover of Duffy's Iowa Caucus Cartoons
Duffy's Iowa Caucus Cartoons
Watch 'Em Run
Brian Duffy
University of Iowa Press, 2015
Brian Duffy has been poking fun at the Iowa caucuses for just about as long as they’ve been a media circus, since the 1970s. Now, the longtime editorial cartoonist has gathered a selection of his best images lampooning the politicians on their quadrennial stampedes through Iowa’s fields and towns.

Whether you’re anticipating or dreading the onset of another caucus season in 2016, this book will put it all into perspective. From Jimmy Carter’s innovative 1976 effort to Barack Obama’s come-from-behind win in 2008, from George H. W. Bush’s storming to victory in 1980 to George W. Bush’s coasting to his win in 2000, from Gary Hart’s peccadillos in 1988 to John Edwards’s missteps in 2008, from Elizabeth Dole’s determination to breach the White House boys’ club in 2000 to Hillary Clinton’s fall from frontrunner to third place in 2008, here is American presidential campaigning in all its glory. With pigs.
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front cover of Fabulosa!
Fabulosa!
The Story of Polari, Britain's Secret Gay Language
Paul Baker
Reaktion Books, 2020
A Times Literary Supplement Book of the Year

“Richly evocative and entertaining.”—Guardian

“An essential book for anyone who wants to Polari bona!”—Attitude

“Exuberant, richly detailed. . . . A delightful read.”—Tatler

Polari is a language that was used chiefly by gay men in the first half of the twentieth century. It offered its speakers a degree of public camouflage and a means of identification. Its colorful roots are varied—from Cant to Lingua Franca to dancers’ slang—and in the mid-1960s it was thrust into the limelight by the characters Julian and Sandy, voiced by Hugh Paddick and Kenneth Williams, on the BBC radio show Round the Horne (“Oh hello Mr Horne, how bona to vada your dolly old eek!”). Paul Baker recounts the story of Polari with skill, humor, and tenderness. He traces its historical origins and describes its linguistic nuts and bolts, explores the ways and the environments in which it was spoken, explains the reasons for its decline, and tells of its unlikely reemergence in the twenty-first century.  With a cast of drag queens and sailors, Dilly boys and macho clones, Fabulosa! is an essential document of recent history—a fascinating and fantastically readable account of this funny, filthy, and ingenious language.
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front cover of Forty Years of Texas Storytelling
Forty Years of Texas Storytelling
Historical and Contemporary Tales from Diverse Writers and Poets
Ted Parkhurst
Parkhurst Brothers, Inc., 2024
A collection of thirty-plus stories by regional storytellers, each representing the Texas Storytelling Tradition as nurtured within the Tejas Storytelling Association since 1984. Contributors to this sampler of folktales, original stories, humorous and historic tales are all part of Texas Storytelling Festival history. The Festival is an annual event in Denton, Texas.
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From the Top
Brief Transmissions from Tent Show Radio
Michael Perry
Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2013

“Bottom line is, I’m the kind of guy who’s happy to go to the opera, but I should like to be allowed to wear steel-toed boots with my evening suit. I like to read Harper’s with a chaser of Varmint Hunter Magazine. Maybe that’s why I enjoy a good show under canvas. Here we sit, brain-deep in arts and culture, but we’re also just people hanging out in a tent, some of us wearing boots, a few of us wearing Birkenstocks, but best of all we’re breathing free fresh air filled with music.”

From Scandihoovian Spanglish to snickering chickens, New York Times bestselling author and humorist Michael Perry navigates a wide range of topics in this collection of brief essays drawn from his weekly appearances on the nationally syndicated Tent Show Radio program. Fatherhood, dumpster therapy, dangerous wedding rings, Christmas trees, used cars, why you should have bacon in your stock portfolio, loggers in clogs—whatever the subject, Perry has a rare ability to touch both the funny bone and the heart.

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front cover of From Topic to Tale
From Topic to Tale
Logic and Narrativity in the Middle Ages
Eugene VanceForeword by Wlad Godzich
University of Minnesota Press, 1987

From Topic to Tale was first published in 1987. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.

The transition from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance has been discussed since the 1940s as a shift from a Latinate culture to one based on a vernacular language, and, since the 1960s, as a shift from orality to literacy. From Topic to Tale focuses on this multifaceted transition, but it poses the problem in different terms: it shows how a rhetorical tradition was transformed into a textual one, and ends ultimately in a discussion of the relationship between discourse and society.

The rise of French vernacular literacy in the twelfth century coincided with the emergence of logic as a powerful instrument of the human mind. With logic come a new concern for narrative coherence and form, a concern exemplified by the work of Chretien de Troyes. Many brilliant poetic achievements crystallized in the narrative art of Chretien, establishing an enduring tradition of literary technique for all of Europe. Eugene Vance explores the intellectual context of Chretien's vernacular literacy, and in particular, the interaction between the three "arts of language" (grammar, logic, and rhetoric) compromising the trivium. Until Vance, few critics have studied the contribution of logic to Chretiens poetics, nor have they assessed the ethical bond between rationalism and the new heroic code of romance.

Vance takes Chretien de Troyes' great romance, Yvain ou le chevalier au lion,as the centerpiece of the Twelfth-Century Renaissance. It is also central to his own thesis, which shows how Chretien forged a bold new vision of humans as social beings situated between beasts and angels and promulgated the symbolic powers of language, money, and heraldic art to regulate the effects of human desire. Vance's reading of the Yvain contributes not only to the intellectual history of the Middle Ages, but also to the continuing dialogue between contemporary critical theory and medieval culture.

Eugene Vance is professor of French and comparative literature at Emory University and principal editor of a University of Nebraska series, Regents Studies in Medieval Culture. Wlad Godzich is director of the Center for Humanistic Studies at the University of Minnesota and co-editor of the series Theory and History of Literature.

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front cover of The Great Latke-Hamantash Debate
The Great Latke-Hamantash Debate
Edited by Ruth Fredman Cernea
University of Chicago Press, 2005
Creation versus evolution. Nature versus nurture. Free will versus determinism. Every November at the University of Chicago, the best minds in the world consider the question that ranks with these as one of the most enduring of human history: latke or hamantash? This great latke-hamantash debate, occurring every year for the past six decades, brings Nobel laureates, university presidents, and notable scholars together to debate whether the potato pancake or the triangular Purim pastry is in fact the worthier food.

What began as an informal gathering is now an institution that has been replicated on campuses nationwide. Highly absurd yet deeply serious, the annual debate is an
opportunity for both ethnic celebration and academic farce. In poetry, essays, jokes, and revisionist histories, members of elite American academies attack the latke-versus-hamantash question with intellectual panache and an unerring sense of humor, if not chutzpah. The Great Latke-Hamantash Debate is the first collection of the best of these performances, from Martha Nussbaum's paean to both foods—in the style of Hecuba's Lament—to Nobel laureate Leon Lederman's proclamation on the union of the celebrated dyad. The latke and the hamantash are here revealed as playing a critical role in everything from Chinese history to the Renaissance, the works of Jane Austen to constitutional law.

Philosopher and humorist Ted Cohen supplies a wry foreword, while anthropologist Ruth Fredman Cernea provides historical and social context as well as an overview of the Jewish holidays, latke and hamantash recipes, and a glossary of Yiddish and Hebrew terms, making the book accessible even to the uninitiated. The University of Chicago may have split the atom in 1942, but it's still working on the equally significant issue of the latke versus the hamantash.

“As if we didn’t have enough on our plates, here’s something new to argue about. . . . To have to pick between sweet and savory, round and triangular, latke and hamantash. How to choose? . . . Thank goodness one of our great universities—Chicago, no less—is on the case. For more than 60 years, it has staged an annual latke-hamantash debate. . . . So, is this book funny? Of course it’s funny, even laugh-out-loud funny. It’s Mickey Katz in academic drag, Borscht Belt with a PhD.”—David Kaufmann, Forward

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Habeas Codfish
Reflections on Food and the Law
Barry M. Levenson
University of Wisconsin Press, 2001

    From the McDonald’s hot coffee case to the cattle ranchers’ beef with Oprah Winfrey, from the old English "Assize of Bread" to current nutrition labeling laws, what we eat and how we eat are shaped as much by legal regulations as by personal taste. Barry M. Levenson, the curator of the world-famous (really!) Mount Horeb Mustard Museum and a self-proclaimed "recovering lawyer," offers in Habeas Codfish an entertaining and expert overview of the frustrating, frightening, and funny intersections of food and the law.
    Discover how Mr. Peanut shaped the law of trademark infringement for the entire food industry. Consider the plight of the restaurant owner besmirched by a journalist’s negative review. Find out how traditional Jewish laws of kashrut ran afoul of the First Amendment. Prison meals, butter vs. margarine, definitions of organic food, undercover ABC reporters at the Food Lion, the Massachusetts Supreme Court case that saved fish chowder, even recipes—it’s all in here, so tuck in!

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Heath Robinson
How to be a Perfect Husband
W. Heath Robinson & K.R.G. Browne
Bodleian Library Publishing, 2017
Heath Robinson (1872–1944) is Britain’s “Gadget King”—master of the art of creating madcap contraptions that made use of ropes, weights, and pulleys to perform relatively simple tasks. Although he trained as a painter and also worked as a book illustrator, Robinson developed his forte with drawings of gadgets that parodied the absurdities of modern life. A true cartoonist, Robinson had a way of getting at the heart of the matter while simultaneously satirizing it mercilessly. He became a household name in Britain, and his popularity continues today.

The cartoons in Heath Robinson: How to be a Perfect Husband provide sage advice for how to succeed in almost all aspects of married life—and, of course, it often features a complicated Robinsonian gadget. The perfect husband, for example, will take advantage of two simple attachments to the garden roller to tend the lawn and entertain the baby simultaneously. Likewise, he can peel onions with no fear of tears using a mirror and construct a cost-effective vacuum cleaner using items found around the house. Most importantly, he will devise a device to help him climb the stairs silently after a late night out with the boys.

A gently satirical collection, this book make a perfect gift for anyone looking to have a laugh at our complicated and increasingly mechanical modern life.
 
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Here, Now
Essays
Michelle Suzanne Mirsky
Northwestern University Press, 2025

A deeply felt and humorous collection examining a year in the wake of extraordinary loss

In November 2010, on the morning after election day, Mirsky lost her three-year-old son, Lev. In the year that followed, she produced a profound and provocatively humorous body of work—tackling extreme loss as well as divorce, friendship, dating, sex, comedy, and art making, all while continuing her day job as a family liaison at the same children’s hospital where Lev died. Every November, the anniversary of Lev’s loss aligns with the churn of the election cycle.

A decade later, we find Mirsky in the heart of a different crisis: supervising COVID vaccine distribution in the polarized political climate of Austin, Texas. In “An Addendum,” she turns again to themes of grief and healing, this time on a societal scale, as she reckons with the tenth anniversary of Lev’s passing. Through her un-extraordinary story of extraordinary loss, Mirsky offers proof that there is an afterward to grief.

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How They Linger
Stories of Unforgettable Souls
Donald Davis
Parkhurst Brothers, Inc., 2024
This cycle of original stories features unusual, remarkable, and dear people whom the author has known.
Although everyone has a story, not everybody has a remarkable storyteller like Donald Davis to tell theirs.
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How to Be a Good Husband
Edited by the Bodleian Library
Bodleian Library Publishing, 2008
 
Don’t think that your wife has placed waste-paper baskets in the rooms as ornaments.
 
Don’t forget that very true remark that while face powder may catch a man, baking powder is the stuff to hold him.
 
Marriage can be a series of humorous miscommunications, a power struggle, or a diplomatic nightmare. Men and women have long struggled to figure each other out—and the misunderstandings can continue well after they’ve been joined in matrimony. But long before Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, couples turned to self-help booklets such as How to Be a GoodHusband and How to Be a Good Wife, two historic advice books that are now delightfully reproduced by the Bodleian Library.

            The books, originally published in the 1930s for middle-class British couples, are filled with witty and charming aphorisms on how wives and husbands should treat each other. Some advice is unquestionably outdated—“It is a wife’s duty to look her best. If you don’t tidy yourself up, don’t be surprised if your husband begins to compare you unfavorably with the typist at the office”—but many other pieces of advice are wholly applicable today. They include such insightful sayings as: “Don’t tell your wife terminological inexactitudes, which are, in plain English, lies. A woman has wonderful intuition for spotting even minor departures from the truth”; “After all is said and done, husbands are not terribly difficult to manage”; or “Don’t squeeze the tube of toothpaste from the top instead of from the bottom. This is one of the small things of life that always irritates a careful wife.”

            Entertaining and charmingly illustrated, How to Be a Good Husband and How to Be a Good Wife offer enduringly useful advice for all couples, from the newly engaged to those celebrating their golden anniversary.
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How to be a Good Lover
Edited by the Bodleian Library
Bodleian Library Publishing, 2012

Across the centuries, few experiences in life rival the excitement and emotional intensity of falling in love. Yet from the moment we set eyes on a special someone, the path to their heart seems strewn with devastating pitfalls. What if the object of our affection hates the way we wear our hair, finds our kisses lacking, or resents our talk of former loves?How does one go about successfully wooing a future husband or wife? Fortunately, there are time-honored strategies to avoid these pitfalls and help us attract and keep the paramour of our dreams.

Written in the 1930s for would-be lovers from the British middle-class, How to be a Good Lover is a delightfully antiquated guide that takes readers of both sexes through all the stages of a relationship, from the initial meeting to courtship, engagement, and marriage. In addition to weighing in on the proper age gap, dating outside one’s class, and the etiquette of gifting, the book brims with age-old nuggets of advice that range from practicalities such as “don’t attempt kissing in a canoe unless you are both able to swim”and “don’t kiss your lover with your hat still on your head” to more substantial advice such as the admonishment to show respect to your potential partner’s parents.     
 
Charmingly illustrated with line drawings from the period, How to be a Good Lover is by turns humorously old-fashioned and timeless, and it offers sage advice for all hoping to one day find love.
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How to be a Good Mother-in-Law
Edited by the Bodleian Library
Bodleian Library Publishing, 2013
“Do not march into the drawing-room and, having inspected it, say, “What a nice room, but —” “Do not look at your son steadfastly and then turn to his wife and tell her he is getting thin.” “When you wax eloquently on the way to keep soup hot, you are merely asking him to shout on the house tops that he prefers cold soup to mothers-in-law.” These are just a few of the words of wisdom on offer in How to be a Good Mother-in-Law, the latest in a series of delightful advice books that also includes How to be a Good Husband and How to be a Good Wife. While the station of mother-in-law is not one celebrated for its sympathy and is the subject of no shortage of off-color jokes, this slim guide shows that it is possible to achieve accord—even friendship—with the man or woman your son or daughter has chosen to marry.
           
Originally published in the 1930s, How to be a Good Mother-in-Law offers advice that ranges from the amusingly old-fashioned to the surprisingly still relevant today. Among the topics discussed are how not to behave on your son or daughter’s wedding day, how to visit the couple in their new home, how to interact with the grandchildren, and what degree of independence should be granted to married sons. For mothers-in-law considering living with the married couple, a chapter presents suggestions for how to negotiate this famously fraught situation. In another chapter called “Are They as Bad as They are Painted?,” the book reproduces a selection of tabloid tragedies, including the story of a mother-in-law that surprised a hapless couple by accompanying them on their honeymoon.

Whether you’re a new mother-in-law, a veteran to this much-maligned role, or a long-suffering spouse whose partner’s parent seems impossible to please—the pithy advice on-hand in How to be a Good Mother-in-Law will be warmly welcomed.

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How to be a Good Parent
Compiled by Jaqueline Mitchell
Bodleian Library Publishing, 2015
To keep children clean is something that should never be attempted. It cannot be done.
 
The mere provision of the vegetable is not sufficient; it must be actually eaten.
 
If there is room enough for somersaults, the child can be satisfied.
 
These are just a few of the words of wisdom on offer in How to be a Good Parent, the latest in a series of delightful advice books from the Bodleian Library that also includes How to be a Good Husband and How to be a Good Wife. As developmental psychology began to show promise, beleaguered parents were drawn to the nascent discipline with the sorts of questions that will be familiar to any parent: How does one tell a toddler “no” without triggering a tantrum? Are there circumstances in which it’s acceptable to extract good behavior with bribery?
           
How to be a Good Parent brings together bits from the best of advice books of the 1920s and ’30s, taking readers through all the challenges involved in raising a child. Among the topics discussed are good—and bad—behavior, how to dress one’s dear son or darling daughter, mealtime, and the dreaded morning and bedtime routines. A section on taking medicine offers sage advice: “Gargling is a useful accomplishment” (while perhaps not appropriate for the dinner table). In a section on playtime, parents tasked with planning their child’s birthday will warmly welcome the book’s advice to “let the children give their own parties!”

By turns humorously old-fashioned and timeless, How to be a Good Parent is a charmingly illustrated guide to what any parent can tell you is the world's most difficult job.
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front cover of How to Be a Good Wife
How to Be a Good Wife
Edited by the Bodleian Library
Bodleian Library Publishing, 2008
Don’t think that your wife has placed waste-paper baskets in the rooms as ornaments.
 
Don’t forget that very true remark that while face powder may catch a man, baking powder is the stuff to hold him.
 
Marriage can be a series of humorous miscommunications, a power struggle, or a diplomatic nightmare. Men and women have long struggled to figure each other out—and the misunderstandings can continue well after they’ve been joined in matrimony. But long before Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, couples turned to self-help booklets such as How to Be a GoodHusband and How to Be a Good Wife, two historic advice books that are now delightfully reproduced by the Bodleian Library.

The books, originally published in the 1930s for middle-class British couples, are filled with witty and charming aphorisms on how wives and husbands should treat each other. Some advice is unquestionably outdated—“It is a wife’s duty to look her best. If you don’t tidy yourself up, don’t be surprised if your husband begins to compare you unfavorably with the typist at the office”—but many other pieces of advice are wholly applicable today. They include such insightful sayings as: “Don’t tell your wife terminological inexactitudes, which are, in plain English, lies. A woman has wonderful intuition for spotting even minor departures from the truth”; “After all is said and done, husbands are not terribly difficult to manage”; or “Don’t squeeze the tube of toothpaste from the top instead of from the bottom. This is one of the small things of life that always irritates a careful wife.”

Entertaining and charmingly illustrated, How to Be a Good Husband and How to Be a Good Wife offer enduringly useful advice for all couples, from the newly engaged to those celebrating their golden anniversary.
 
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The Last Flower
A Parable in Pictures
James Thurber
University of Iowa Press, 2007
Originally published in November 1939, two months after World War II officially began, James Thurber's parable in pictures-- a graphic novel ahead of its day--about eternal cycles of war, peace, love, and the resilience of one little flower remains as relevant today as it was then. The New York Times called it "at once one of the most serious and one of the most hilarious contributions on war."
    Civilization has collapsed  after World War XII, dogs have deserted their masters, all the groves and gardens have been destroyed, and love has vanished from the earth. Then one day, "a young girl who had never seen a flower chanced to come upon the last one in the world." Written among the sorrow and chaos of war, dedicated to this only child " in the wistful hope that her world will be better than mine." The new printing will feature new scans of Thurber's original 1939 drawings.
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Latin America in Caricature
By John J. Johnson
University of Texas Press, 1993

“Not many readers will thank the author as he deserves, for he has told us more about ourselves than we perhaps wish to know,” predicted Latin America in Books of Latin America in Caricature—an exploration of more than one hundred years of hemispheric relations through political cartoons collected from leading U.S. periodicals from the 1860s through 1980.

 The cartoons are grouped according to recurring themes in diplomacy and complementing visual imagery. Each one is accompanied by a lengthy explanation of the incident portrayed, relating the drawing to public opinion of the day. Johnson’s thoughtful introduction and the comments that precede the individual chapters provide essential background for understanding U.S. attitudes and policies toward Latin America.

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Laughing to Keep from Dying
African American Satire in the Twenty-First Century
Danielle Fuentes Morgan
University of Illinois Press, 2020
By subverting comedy's rules and expectations, African American satire promotes social justice by connecting laughter with ethical beliefs in a revolutionary way. Danielle Fuentes Morgan ventures from Suzan-Lori Parks to Leslie Jones and Dave Chappelle to Get Out and Atlanta to examine the satirical treatment of race and racialization across today's African American culture. Morgan analyzes how African American artists highlight the ways that society racializes people and bolsters the powerful myth that we live in a "post-racial" nation. The latter in particular inspires artists to take aim at the idea racism no longer exists or the laughable notion of Americans "not seeing" racism or race. Their critique changes our understanding of the boundaries between staged performance and lived experience and create ways to better articulate Black selfhood.

Adventurous and perceptive, Laughing to Keep from Dying reveals how African American satirists unmask the illusions and anxieties surrounding race in the twenty-first century.

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Lincoln's Sense of Humor
Richard Carwardine
Southern Illinois University Press, 2017
Winner, Abraham Lincoln Institute Book Prize, 2018
Winner, ISHS Annual Award for a Scholarly Publication, 2018

Abraham Lincoln was the first president to make storytelling, jokes, and laughter tools of the office, and his natural sense of humor has become legendary. Lincoln’s Sense of Humor registers the variety, complexity of purpose, and ethical dimension of Lincoln’s humor and pinpoints the political risks Lincoln ran in telling jokes while the nation was engaged in a bloody struggle for existence.
 
Complete with amusing anecdotes, this book shows how Lincoln’s uses of humor evolved as he matured and explores its versatility, range of expressions, and multiple sources: western tall tales, morality stories, bawdy jokes, linguistic tricks, absurdities, political satire, and sharp wit. While Lincoln excelled at self-mockery, nothing gave him greater pleasure than satirical work lampooning hypocrisy and ethical double standards. He particularly enjoyed David R. Locke’s satiric writings by Petroleum V. Nasby, a fictional bigoted secessionist preacher, and the book explores the nuances of Lincoln’s enthusiasm for what he called Locke’s genius, showing the moral springs of Lincoln’s humor.
 
Richard Carwardine methodically demonstrates that Lincoln’s funny stories were the means of securing political or personal advantage, sometimes by frontal assault on opponents but more often by depiction through parable, obfuscation through hilarity, refusal through wit, and diversion through cunning. Throughout his life Lincoln worked to develop the humorist’s craft and hone the art of storytelling. His jokes were valuable in advancing his careers as politician and lawyer and in navigating his course during a storm-tossed presidency. His merriness, however, coexisted with self-absorbed contemplation and melancholy. Humor was his lifeline; dark levity acted as a tonic, giving Lincoln strength to tackle the severe challenges he faced. At the same time, a reputation for unrestrained, uncontrollable humor gave welcome ammunition to his political foes. In fact, Lincoln’s jocularity elicited waves of criticism during his presidency. He was dismissed as a “smutty joker,” a “first rate second rate man,” and a “joke incarnated.”
 
Since his death, Lincoln’s anecdotes and jokes have become detached from the context that had given them their political and cultural bite, losing much of the ironic and satiric meaning that he had intended. With incisive analysis and laugh-inducing examples, Carwardine helps to recapture a strong component of Lincoln’s character and reanimates the good humor of our sixteenth president.
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Lowering the Bar
Lawyer Jokes and Legal Culture
Marc Galanter
University of Wisconsin Press, 2006
What do you call 600 lawyers at the bottom of the sea? Marc Galanter calls it an opportunity to investigate the meanings of a rich and time-honored genre of American humor: lawyer jokes. Lowering the Bar analyzes hundreds of jokes from Mark Twain classics to contemporary anecdotes about Dan Quayle, Johnnie Cochran, and Kenneth Starr. Drawing on representations of law and lawyers in the mass media, political discourse, and public opinion surveys, Galanter finds that the increasing reliance on law has coexisted uneasily with anxiety about the “legalization” of society. Informative and always entertaining, his book explores the tensions between Americans’ deep-seated belief in the law and their ambivalence about lawyers.
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More of Duffy
Editorial Cartoons by Brian Duffy
Duffy, Brian
University of Iowa Press, 1995

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Mr. Dooley in Peace and in War
Finley Peter Dunne
University of Illinois Press, 1988
Welcome to Mr. Dooley's place, a neighborhood saloon in the working-class community of Bridgeport, located on Chicago's near southwest side. Here matters of the gravest import are perused with homespun philosophy and good cheer. Covering the waterfront from Mack's (President McKinley's) foreign policies and political appointments to the Alaskan gold rush and juvenile delinquency, Martin T. Dooley holds forth from behind the bar, benevolently dispensing equal portions of wisdom and comical misunderstanding.

As Charlie McCarthy is to Edgar Bergen, so is Martin T. Dooley to newspaper humorist Finley Peter Dunne. Mr. Dooley in Peace and in War, originally published in 1898, collects brief, humorous pieces Dunne wrote for the Chicago Evening Post and the Chicago Journal. In an Irish-American dialect as thick as the foam on a pint of stout, Mr. Dooley and his friends discuss the military "sthrateejy" for American action in Cuba, "iliction" day shenanigans, Queen Victoria's jubilee, the "new woman," and the strange American sport of football, in which a player puts "a pair iv matthresses on his legs, a pillow behind, [and] a mask over his nose" and tries to kill his fellow men. Through his tall tales and speculations, Mr. Dooley reveals the pleasure and pain of being Irish in Chicago at the turn of the twentieth century.

Clothed in the charming hyperbole and mislocution of the unflappable Mr. Dooley, Dunne's incisive social criticism flies unerringly to the target, exposing prejudice, hypocrisy, insensitivity, and plain old-fashioned humbug.

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The Paddy Camps
The Irish of Lowell, 1821-61
Brian C. Mitchell
University of Illinois Press, 1988

The dramatic story of the fights and compromises that shaped an Irish community

Disdained by many Yankee residents as Catholic lowlifes, the growing Irish population of the Lowell, Massachusetts, “paddy camps” in the nineteenth century proved a tempting source of cheap labor for local mill owners, who took advantage of the immigrants’ proximity to exploit them to the fullest. Displaced by their cheaper labor, other workers blamed the Irish for job losses and added to their plight through repression and segregation.

Now in paperback and featuring a new preface, Brian C. Mitchell’s The Paddy Camps demonstrates how the Irish community in Lowell overcame adversity to develop strong religious institutions, an increased political presence, and a sense of common traditions.

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Philip Guston's Poor Richard
Debra Bricker Balken
University of Chicago Press, 2001
In 1971, as the race for the presidency heated up, the artist Philip Guston (1913-1980) created a series of caricatures of Richard Nixon titled Philip Guston's Poor Richard. Produced two years before Watergate and three years before Nixon's resignation, these provocative, searing condemnations of a corrupt head of state are remarkable, prescient political satire. The drawings mock Nixon's physical attributes—his nose is rendered as an enlarged phallus throughout-as well as his notoriously dubious, shifty character. Debra Bricker Balken's book is the first book—length publication of these drawings.

A visual narrative of Nixon's life, the drawings trace Nixon from his childhood, through his ascent to power, to his years in the White House. They incorporate Henry Kissinger (a pair of glasses), Spiro Agnew (a cone-head), and John Mitchell (a dolt smoking a pipe). They depict Nixon and his cohorts in China, plotting strategy in Key Biscayne, and shamelessly pandering to African Americans, hippies, and elderly tourists.

As Balken discusses in her accompanying essay, these drawings also reflect a dramatic transformation in Guston's work. In response to social unrest and the Vietnam War, he began to question the viability of a private art given to self-expression. His betrayal of aesthetic abstraction in favor of imagery imbued with personal and political meaning largely engendered the renewal of figuration in painting in America in the 1970s. These drawings not only represent one of the few instances of an artist in the late twentieth century engaging caricature in his work, they are also a witty, acerbic take on a corrupt figure and a scandalous political regime.
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President Trump Sells California
Duke Q. Wallace
Parkhurst Brothers, Inc., 2016

 A short political satire in which a President Trump nationalizes the Girl Scouts, privatizes the Supreme Court, and sells the state of California—his way of paying off the Federal debt. Nine brief chapters, each one resolving a real national issue with an excess of creativity and zeal. What happens when the zeal is spent?

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Retreads
By Prudence Mackintosh
University of Texas Press, 2002

Retreads tells the middle of the story begun in Thundering Sneakers and concluded in Sneaking Out. In this collection of essays, Prudence Mackintosh follows her sons through the "tween" years between little boyhood and adolescence. Vividly portraying the chaos that descends on a house full of active children, she also records the many first times and last times that give poignancy to the middle years of motherhood.

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Roughneck Grace
Farmer Yoga, Creeping Codgerism, Apple Golf, and Other Brief Essays from on and off the Back Forty
Michael Perry
Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2016

New York Times bestselling author, humorist, and newspaper columnist Michael Perry returns with a new collection of bite-sized essays from his Sunday Wisconsin State Journal column, “Roughneck Grace.” Perry’s perspectives on everything from cleaning the chicken coop to sharing a New York City elevator with supermodels will have you snorting with laughter on one page, blinking back tears on the next, and--no matter your zip code--nodding in recognition throughout.

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Sneaking Out
By Prudence Mackintosh
University of Texas Press, 2002

From the endless battles of sibling rivalry to the endless worries about getting indifferent students into—and then graduated from—college, raising boys is the adventure of a lifetime for any mother. Prudence Mackintosh has not only survived the adventure but has also written about it with her signature wit and style. Her essays about life with sons Jack, Drew, and William have entertained the readers of Texas Monthly and other prominent magazines for nearly three decades, offering solace to similarly beleaguered parents and a knowing chuckle to everyone who enjoys watching the real-life sitcom of a fundamentally happy, intact family.

Sneaking Out completes the story that Mackintosh began in her earlier books Thundering Sneakers and Retreads. In this collection of new and previously published essays, she recounts life with her adolescent sons as they race headlong to first jobs, first driver's licenses, first girlfriends, and first flights away from the family nest. She also follows them into the college years, when both parents and sons have to find a new balance in holding on and letting go. Along the way, she offers wise and witty reflections on being a woman at midlife, supporting her sons through the beginning of their adult lives and her parents through the end of theirs.

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So Ole Says to Lena
Folk Humor of the Upper Midwest
Compiled and edited by James P. Leary
University of Wisconsin Press, 2002

In the land of beer, cheese, and muskies—where the polka is danced and winter is unending and where Lutherans and Catholics predominate—everybody is ethnic, the politics are clean, and the humor is plentiful. This collection includes jokes, humorous anecdotes, and tall tales from ethnic groups (Woodland Indians, French, Cornish, Germans, Irish, Scandinavians, Finns, and Poles) and working folk (loggers, miners, farmers, townsfolk, hunters, and fishers). Dig into the rich cultural context supplied by the notes and photographs, or just laugh at the hundreds of jokes gathered at small-town cafes, farm tables, job sites, and church suppers. This second edition includes an afterword and indexes of motifs and tale types.

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Suffering Sappho!
Lesbian Camp in American Popular Culture
Barbara Jane Brickman
Rutgers University Press, 2024
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Tales from a Free-Range Childhood
Donald Davis
Parkhurst Brothers, Inc., 2022
A cycle of twenty stories, each of which is focused on childhood friends, the antics of his neighborhood and school chums, and the mysteries of adult life seen through a child’s unerring eye.
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Telling Twain
A book of short stories by Mark Twain
Steve Daut
Parkhurst Brothers, Inc., 2019
Updated versions of Mark Twain classic stories in the best tradition of comedic writing. All of the stories were originally penned by Mark Twain, including "The Jumping Frog of Calaveras County." The author is a contemporary American storyteller who has included notes for readers and re-tellers in addition to an introduction that comments on Mr. Twain and the era in which his stories were written.
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Thundering Sneakers
By Prudence Mackintosh
University of Texas Press, 2002
Thundering Sneakers begins the story of the Mackintosh boys. In these essays, Prudence Mackintosh describes the delights and terrors of living with little boys who are determined to be boys, despite the carefully nonsexist childrearing practices of the 1970s. With telling vignettes of boyish disasters that drive her to despair, as well as the rare quiet moments of hugs and confidences that make it all worthwhile, she perfectly captures the early years when a young mother still looks for "the real mother" to come and bail her out.
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We Are Not Amused
Victorian Views on Pronunciation as Told in the Pages of Punch
David Crystal
Bodleian Library Publishing, 2017
Have you ever cringed while hearing someone mispronounce a word—or, worse, been tripped up by a wily silent letter yourself? Consider yourself lucky that you do not live in Victorian England, when the way you pronounced a word was seen as a sometimes-damning index of who you were and how you should be treated. No wonder then that jokes about English usage provided one of Punch magazine’s most fruitful veins of humor for sixty years, from its first issue in 1841 to 1900.

For We Are Not Amused, renowned English-language expert David Crystal has explored the most common pronunciation-related controversies during the reign of Queen Victoria and brought together the cartoons and articles that poked fun at them, adding insightful commentary on the context of the times. The collection brings to light a society where class distinctions ruled. Crystal explains why people felt so strongly about accents and identifies which accents were the main sources of jokes, from the dropped h’s of the Cockney working class to the upper-class tendency to drop the final g in words like “huntin’” and “fishin’.”
           
In this fascinating and highly entertaining book, Crystal shows that outrage over proper pronunciation is nothing new—our feelings today have their origins in the ways our Victorian predecessors thought about the subject.
 
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When Grandpa Delivered Babies and Other Ozarks Vignettes
Benjamin G. Rader
University of Illinois Press, 2024
People in the Ozarks have long told humorous vignettes that make sense of triumph and tragedy, relay family and local history, and of course entertain. Benjamin G. Rader’s memoir offers a loving portrait of the Ozarks of his youth, where his grandfather midwifed babies and his great uncle Jerry Rader laughed so hard at one of his own stories that he choked to death on a pork chop. As he reveals the Ozarks of the 1930s through 1950s, Rader dispels the myths of the region’s people as isolated and sharing a single set of values and behaviors. He also takes readers inside the life of the extended Rader family and its neighborhoods, each of which drew on storytelling to strengthen resolve in lives roiled by change, economic depression, and the shift of daily life from the country to the city.

An alluring blend of remembering and reflection, When Grandpa Delivered Babies and Other Ozarks Vignettes provides a vivid portrait of a fading time.

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Where There's Smoke There's Dinner
Regina Carpenter
Parkhurst Brothers, Inc., 2012

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William S. Burroughs' "The Revised Boy Scout Manual"
An Electronic Revolution
William S. Burroughs
The Ohio State University Press, 2018
Before the era of fake news and anti-fascists, William S. Burroughs wrote about preparing for revolution and confronting institutionalized power. In this work, Burroughs’ parody becomes a set of rationales and instructions for destabilizing the state and overthrowing an oppressive and corrupt government. As with much of Burroughs’ work, it is hard to say if it is serious or purely satire. The work is funny, horrifying, and eerily prescient, especially concerning the use of language and social media to undermine institutions.
 
The Revised Boy Scout Manual was a work Burroughs revisited many times, but which has never before been published in its complete form. Based primarily on recordings of a performance of the complete piece found in the archives at the OSU libraries, as well as various incomplete versions of the typescript found at Arizona State University and the New York Public Library archives, this lost masterpiece of satiric subversion is finally available in its entirety.
 
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You Gotta Laugh To Keep From Cryin'
A Baby Boomer Contemplates Life Beyond Fifty
Sam Venable
University of Tennessee Press, 2003
Sam Venable is one of America’s seventy-six million Baby Boomers who are turning into their parents. He can’t quite see without his reading glasses, he thinks the music kids listen to these days is nothing but a loud racket, and his belt is mysteriously creeping up higher and higher on his chest.

The way Venable figures it, he’s roaring along the road (at about twenty-seven miles per hour, the average speed for someone his age) to Codgerville. You Gotta Laugh to Keep From Cryin’ highlights the observations and lifestyle changes (and a few other things he can’t quite seem to remember at the moment) that Venable has made along the way.

From the day his wife discovers his first ear hair, Venable begins to recognize the signs of old age. Though he had reconciled himself to daily fiber and a distinguished head of gray, he is one step further to an insatiable desire for cafeteria food and permanently leaving his car’s right turn signal flashing.

The news isn’t all bad, though. To his surprise, Venable discovers that his new appearance and habits have qualified him for the senior discount on breakfast at his favorite restaurant. After reading about a scientific study concluding that men’s brains shrink faster than women’s in the normal aging process, Venable has a new source of excuses to explain to his wife why he is missing important dates, times, places, and appointments.

As an official CIT (Codger In Training), Venable delights in other newfound freedoms. He can stand in a fast-food line and stare at the menu for a full two minutes without saying a word (besides, he can’t hear the people behind him grumbling). He can drive as slowly as he likes and has perfected the art of maintaining a death grip on the steering wheel of his car. And he really doesn’t have to listen to anyone anymore; he can merely turn their way from time to time and mumble, “Huh?”

From the swinging doors whose “Push/Pull” directions elude him to the high-tech mysteries of ATMs designed to baffle the elderly, Sam Venable’s rollicking view of life after fifty will leave readers laughing and happy to be a member of the AARP set.
The Author: Sam Venable, recognized for his humor writing in 2000, 2001, and 2002 by the Tennessee Press Association, is a columnist for the Knoxville News-Sentinel. He is the author of a number of books, including Rock-Elephant: A Story of Friendship and Fishing and Mountain Hands: A Portrait of Southern Appalachia. He lives in Knoxville, Tennessee.
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