Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Simon Rich

One night last week at work it was very, very, VERY slow and quiet. I started browsing for something to read and found a humorous looking book on the new book shelf called Free-range Chickens by Simon Rich. Rich is a recent graduate of Harvard (2007) and was president of The Harvard Lampoon. Although he is in his early twenties, he looks like he's about 11.

I sat down and started reading the book. About five minutes later, I was done it.

This is Rich's second book and it is a collection of thoughts (to call them essays is too generous) of which many are really funny. I found myself laughing, chuckling, grinning and really enjoying this book. It's only about 110 pages long, the margins are wide, and the amount of text on each page is minimal. I cannot in good conscience recommend shelling out $20 to obtain this book. A portion of it is on Google Books so you can check it out. I do recommend borrowing it and reading it. It is really entertaining. Rich writes about a lot of things related to childhood and has quirky outlooks on things like religion, dating, the tooth fairy and other things. Good stuff.

This book was so quick and I liked it so much, I went ahead and requested Rich's first book, Ant Farm. Received it and read it in ten minutes (I exaggerate but not by much). This one isn't as good. The "essays" are longer but many are repetitive. Free-range chickens just seems sharper, cleaner. It felt like every thing he put in there was funny and extraneous words, thoughts, sentences, concepts were edited out. Ant Farm kept the excess stuff and so it seems like the laughs are more sporadic.

Rich's books are like a good standup routine on television. Brief, funny, with some really good lines that will stay with you for a while.

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