Sunday, April 6, 2008

Quick Recommendation: The McSweeney's Joke Book of Book Jokes

Yesterday, I stumbled upon The McSweeney's Joke Book of Book Jokes at the bookstore. Although I tend to be leery of joke books (bad memories from 3rd and 4th grades), I usually enjoy reading the posts at McSweeney's Internet Tendency, and $12.95 later, I was reading this book on the subway and quickly discovering that this was not a book filled with knock-knock jokes or really bad puns. Instead, it is a book of humorous retellings and reimaginings of literary works. For instance, it includes a stump speech by presidential candidate Jane Eyre. It also has a fabulous confrontation between Dateline: To Catch a Predator's Chris Hansen and Humbert Humbert, the main character from Lolita.

In other words, this is a joke book for the literary set. However, despite the writers' unending fascination with James Joyce, not all of the scenarios involve classical books. One of my favorite essays is entitled "Winnie-the-Pooh is My Coworker" (click on the title to read it at the McSweeney's site). The writers also use other childhood books such as Charlotte's Web, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (written from Jenna Bush's perspective), and the Hardy Boys series.

Although the essays are sometimes inconsistent in quality, this book provided a pleasant diversion and has the added bonus of making you use that knowledge you learned in English class. Go forth, read, and enjoy "Lady Macbeth on Ambien."