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Tessa’s Literary Recommendation: 92 Stories by James Thurber

Categories: Blogs,Staff Reviews

If you don’t know anything about James Thurber except that his name is familiar, you might want to start your acquaintance by watching the 2013 remake of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, directed by and starring Ben Stiller. This classic Thurber short story was also dramatized on film in 1947 with Danny Kaye, but Thurber hated it. No one knows if he hated the 2013 version.

However, if the wry humor of these movies appeals to you, or if you enjoy the so-called War between the Sexes, then you want to try more Thurber. The familiar household battleground was a frequent topic in his work. He was a famous wit and cartoonist, writing and drawing for The New Yorker from 1927 well into the 50’s.James_Thurber_NYWTS

One collection JDL owns, 92 Stories, also contains some original drawings, which have a distinct flavor of the cartoons of the early 20th century. (Dorothy Parker famously remarked his cartoons had a “semblance of unbaked cookies.”) Two of his most renowned stories are collected here—The Greatest Man in the World and If Grant had been drinking at Appomattox.

The volume The Middle-Aged Man on the Flying Trapeze is reproduced in 92 Stories in its entirety, with many fun accounts of daily life. For those who suffer lazily rather than mend or replace torn or ill-fitting clothing, The Gentleman is Cold from this volume is required reading. (I subsequently checked over my own winter clothing, which I found mostly lying in a basket with the (still) dirty items from a long vacation.) We must all be relieved, I’m sure, that fashions have changed so much since those tedious and fastidious days.

The JDL library also owns the Library of America volume of Thurber called Writings and Drawings. Don’t put this reading off too long—winter won’t wait, and these stories are much too dry for the cold season. ~Tessa August 2015 4.5 out of 5 stars (less a half star for those stories I found too, too much like my own life)

Author: The Jackson District Library

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