Wednesday, 14 November 2001

James Thurber: Thurber Country (1953)

Edition: Penguin, 1962
Review number: 992

The essays in this collection, mainly written for the New Yorker in the early fifties, are typical of Thurber's gently satirical humour. Though some now seem rather dated, particularly in terms of the depiction of women, most are still very funny. Thurber had an unerring eye for little absurdities - a typical example being his dissection of the reading of lists of famous people who share a particular day as their birthday on local radio stations - and a wonderful fund of anecdotes.

While humour based on the absurdities of society is generally a transient thing - cartoons from nineteenth century magazines are uniformly unamusing today - Thurber's vision has lasted better than most, and collections of his writing are still worth reading.

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