Tag Archives: humor

Alben W. Barkley on “Bureaucrat” as an Epithet

“A bureaucrat is a Democrat who holds some office that a Republican wants.”

Alben W. Barkley

Excerpted from: Winokur, Jon, ed. The Big Curmudgeon. New York: Black Dog & Leventhal, 2007.

Rotten Rejections: Madame Bovary

“You have buried your novel underneath a heap of details which are well done but utterly superfluous….”

Excerpted from: Barnard, Andre, and Bill Henderson, eds. Pushcart’s Complete Rotten Reviews and Rejections. Wainscott, NY: Pushcart Press, 1998.

Devil’s Dictionary: Dictator

“Dictator, n. The chief of a nation that prefers the pestilence of despotism to the plague of anarchy.”

Excerpted from: Bierce, Ambrose. David E. Schultz and S.J. Joshi, eds. The Unabridged Devil’s Dictionary. Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 2000. 

Ben Bagdikian on American Journalism

“Trying to be a first-rate reporter on the average American newspaper is like trying to play Bach’s St. Matthew Passion on a ukulele: the instrument is too crude for the work, for the audience and for the performer.”

Ben Bagdikian

Excerpted from: Winokur, Jon, ed. The Big Curmudgeon. New York: Black Dog & Leventhal, 2007.

Write It Right: Article

“Article. A good and useful word, but used without meaning by shopkeepers; as, ‘A good article of vinegar,’ for a good vinegar.”

Excerpted from: Bierce, Ambrose. Write it Right: A Little Blacklist of Literary Faults. Mineola, NY: Dover, 2010.

Rotten Reviews Omnibus: Saul Bellow

The Adventures of Augie March

“All of Those Words, in denominations of from three to five letters, are present.”

Library Journal


Henderson the Rain King

“The novelist who doesn’t like meanings writes an allegory; the allegory means that men should not mean but be. Ods bodkins. The reviewer looks at the evidence and wonders if he should damn the author and praise the book, or praise the author and damn the book. And is it possible, somehow or other to praise or damn, both? He isn’t sure.”

Reed Whittemore, New Republic

“At times Henderson is too greyly overcast with thought to be more than a dun Quixote.”

Time


Herzog 

“There is no effort toward decency—many of the conversations that come back to Herzog are foul-mouthed, and his own sexual actions and reminiscences are unrestrained.

America

Excerpted from: Barnard, Andre, and Bill Henderson, eds. Pushcart’s Complete Rotten Reviews and Rejections. Wainscott, NY: Pushcart Press, 1998.    

The Algonquin Wits: Ring Lardner on the Costs of Raising Sons

Ring once referred to his prep-school-aged sons as his ‘four grandsons,’ explaining to a puzzled acquaintance that they cost him ‘Four grand a year.’”

Excerpted from: Drennan, Robert E., ed. The Algonquin Wits. New York: Kensington, 1985.

Devil’s Dictionary: Cabinet

“Cabinet, n. The principal persons charged with the mismanagement of a government, the charge being commonly well founded.”

Excerpted from: Bierce, Ambrose. David E. Schultz and S.J. Joshi, eds. The Unabridged Devil’s Dictionary. Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 2000. 

The Algonquin Wits: Dorothy Parker on Teaching Undergraduates

Mrs. Parker taught for a time at Los Angeles State College, where she found the students very ‘narrow.’ When reading Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, for example, the students felt the book was too dirty. ‘But then Steinbeck won the Nobel Prize,’ Mrs. Parker recalled. ‘After that they behaved as if they had given it to him.’”

Excerpted from: Drennan, Robert E., ed. The Algonquin Wits. New York: Kensington, 1985.

Devil’s Dictionary: Demagogue

Demagogue, n. A political opponent.” 

Excerpted from: Bierce, Ambrose. David E. Schultz and S.J. Joshi, eds. The Unabridged Devil’s Dictionary. Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 2000.