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How to Become Extinct

4.06  ·  Rating Details  ·  69 Ratings  ·  11 Reviews
In these forty brief essays, the perennially perturbed Will Cuppy turns his unflinching attention on those members of the animal kingdom whose habits are disagreeable, whose appearances are repellent, and whose continued existence is not necessarily a foregone conclusion. He is not - decidedly not - without reason. (The pike is pretty nasty as
fish go, don't you agree?)

Paperback, 136 pages
Published August 30th 2008 by David R Godine (first published 1941)
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P.J. Sullivan
Apr 07, 2011 P.J. Sullivan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor, nonfiction
This one is mostly about fish, reptiles, and Aristotle, not necessarily in that order. (You will find Aristotle under reptiles.) Plus snippets about some of the animals that have mastered the art of extinction, such as the dodo, “the ultimate in extinction,” which “seems to have been invented for the sole purpose of becoming extinct.” And if you are thinking of adding a snake to your family circle, Cuppy gives you a few points to consider before making that kind of commitment. In general, he is ...more
Mar 18, 2011 Peacegal rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-books
How to Become Extinct is a little book of nature-themed wit and nonsense humor of the type that I used to most enjoy as a younger lass. That said, there were some lines that did make me laugh, such as:

[on tropical fish]
I always say a small aquarium containing several of these delicately lovely creatures is truly educational, for it is here that our kiddies learn all they need to know about infanticide, homicide, uxoricide, cannibalism in the home and other familiar matters of domestic routine.

Sep 02, 2015 Mike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
His enjoyable style and non sequiturs bring to mind Ted Nancy (42) Groucho (70) and Woody (93) and the Onion.

My U of Chicago Press edition cover art is funny illustration of a gentleman reptile in his reading chair, by John Sandford
47 own your own snake **
57 pit viper etymology
65 Aristotle indeed
78 tortoise = LAND, not water
86 auk extinction
88 doudo = Port. simpleton
89 passenger pigeon beech-mast
91 Cuppy's extinctin
92 Mesozoic = dinosaurs (age of reptiles)
95 Gimmick's Law
97 bats are goin
My second-favorite Will Cuppy extravaganza, this one focusing on all kinds of animals and their behavior -- or rather what science understood and theorized about them at the time Cuppy was alive. Cuppy's trademark was to read every word he could find on a subject -- having access to New York libraries, that's a lot -- and summarize it all in a few pages. Funny, interesting, and scientifically accurate. Except maybe the part about how Perch go under bridges when it rains. It's probably significan ...more
John Mcmillan
Aug 26, 2013 John Mcmillan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hilarity on every page. Cuppy at his finest.
Aug 05, 2013 Tovah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-essayists
What a funny little book. Will Cuppy, a humor columnist for the New Yorker. This book focuses on a series of uncuddly creatures such as snakes an fish. He was said to have read 25 plus books on a subject before writing about it. This I find quite shocking since I was unable to point to any specific fact or "learning" in the book. The driving force of each essay is the speaker's voice, which reminds me of Captain Spaulding of the Marx Brother's Duck Soup, a sort of faux intellectual. It's enterta ...more
Jul 24, 2010 Onewooga rated it really liked it
Shelves: humor, non-fiction
Despite the length of time this book sat on my shelf it is a one-of-a-kind. Funny, odd, and dryly British, it is full of short treatises (treati?) on various reptiles, fish and birds, all with random footnotes that kept me chortling and interrupting my husband's attempts to fall asleep. A fun put-it-down-and-then-pick-it-up-again sort of read.
A little fusty but sometimes I chuckled out loud and it made me yearn for the days when comedy was more subtle than it is now.
I'll tell you how to become extinct: read this book. You'll DIE laughing ;-)
Feb 23, 2014 Denise rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: comics
Total crack-up.
Sep 11, 2012 Kayce marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
LOLz so far...
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William Jacob "Will" Cuppy was an American humorist and literary critic, known for his satirical books about nature and historical figures.
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“The Pike is the meanest and most vicious of fresh-water fishes. This is caused by heredity and environment, or unfortunate social conditions in the water.” 2 likes
“Pike spawn in February, March, and April because they cannot wait until May.” 1 likes
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