by Ian Frazier

Farrar, Straus & Giroux



Coyote v. Acme
Cover by Chip Wass

Reviewed by Steven H Silver

My first encounter with the title essay of this collection was when I saw it cut out of the New Yorker and posted on the wall next to the door of one of my history professors in graduate school. Having a few minutes to wait until my appointment, I began reading the essay. I am certain that the only reason the other history professors didn't think I was a lunatic for laughing so hard was that they had read the article and also found it funny. . . a law brief written for Wyle E. Coyote against Acme.

I would like to say the rest of the essays in this all too short book are as funny as the title essay. Unfortunately, that would be a lie. Many of them are as funny, and "Have You Ever," which purports to be an insurance questionnaire from a company which underwrites Soap Opera characters, is even funnier. All of the essays are brief, good on the few weak essays (such as "Webbing"), but when Frazier hits his mark ("The Bank With Your Money On Its Mind"), the reader can only wish the joke went on longer.

Although the pieces are short, it probably is not a good book for the bathroom. You'll get strange looks when you emerge after the sounds of laughter carry through the door. Also, in a bathroom there is nobody you can grab and say "Read this", at least not in most cases. And this is a book you'll want to share. I frequently found myself reading portions out loud to my wife when I came across a particularly good essay.

The cover blurb declares that "Ian Frazier is still the most riotously sophisticated humorist in America." Although I'm not entirely sure this is not a case of hyperbole, Frazier is definitely funny and deserves a larger following than he has.

The Last Segment   From the Bank With Your Money On Its Mind
Webbing   Boswell's Life of Don Johnson
Where the Bodies Are Buried   Brandy by Firelight
Child of War   Thanks for the Memory
Coyote v. Acme   In the Plain Air
Ask Sherman Strong   The Afternoon of June 8, 1991
Have You Ever   Linton's Whatnot
Issues and Non-Issues   Line 46a
Dial W-H-Y W-O-R-K   The Frankest Interview Yet
Your Face or Mine   Making "Movies" in New York
Stalin's Chuckle    

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