Having enjoyed On the Wealth of Nations by the same author I decided to try Modern Manners, which was deemed very funny by the blurb on the cover — and it did not quite live to those expectations. Sure, there are many witty one-liners but also many repeated not-so-funny themes and the book feels quite dated already (the copy I read was dated 1989). Where are the cell phone boors, for instance?
A disapointment despite the occasioanl hilarious bits.
I was told there’s be cake is a collection of essays about a young woman’s life in Manhattan. The tone is reminiscent of David Sedaris (see here) but the book is much less successful. I think the reason is that the humor is often directed outward — at terribly bad bosses, loser boyfriends, rude guests — rather than against herself. Indeed the most successful essays are mocking herself. There’s one about locking herself out of her apartment(s) twice in the same day as she’s moving from one to the other and a hilarious one about mistakenly stealing part of an exhibit from the Natural History Museum. I must say that the essay about a crazy bride is very funny even if the object of mockery is not herself, so perhpas my theory doesn’t quite hold…
A funny book to be sure, but not that funny.