Tuesday, July 20, 2010

“Mere Anarchy” by Woody Allen – Book Review

Mere Anarchy by Woody Allen

“Mere Anarchy” is a collection of humorous essays and short stories by Woody Allen; many of these were originally published elsewhere, including and especially The New Yorker Magazine. This is the fourth such collection, which includes “Getting Even”, “Without Feathers” and “Side Effects”. While Woody Allen’s movies have been somewhat uneven throughout the past 20 years or so, his prose has remained at a high level, reminiscent of his influences, S.J. Perelman, Robert Benchley and – perhaps to a lesser extent -- James Thurber.
Reading through much of his work, you almost get the feeling that the author derives more pleasure from these short pieces than he does making his movies because these essays and stories are far easier to generate – although with significantly less financial remuneration. As much fun as they may be for him to write, they are at least as much fun – if not more – to read. This, of course, assumes that you are able to be somewhat objective here and put aside any distastes you may have for the man as a result of the way he has conducted his personal life over the years. Given your ability to block that out of your mind while reading “Mere Anarchy” – and that may be no trivial matter for some people – you should find this collection to be as witty and entertaining any anything he’s written previously.
Tempting though it may be to want to include in this review some of the best lines from the pieces in this book, I’m going to resist, for no reason other than the fact that it’s like telling the best jokes from one of his movies to someone who hasn’t yet seen the film – it ruins the experience somewhat because part of the fun is how the jokes sometimes take you by surprise. Not only that, but the crazy characters in wild situations are hard to describe in a way that would make much sense within the context of the review – perhaps you’re better off just reading the pieces on their own in order to fully appreciate this writer’s inventive, creative mind that seemingly is a bottomless well of talent.
If you want a good conversation starter, then buy “Mere Anarchy” and proceed to read it in public – people will inevitably come up to you asking just exactly what it is you’re reading once they’ve heard you laugh out loud so hard and so continuously.
By the way, if you’re into audio books, Woody Allen has recorded his books and they have just been released by Audible.com