As a fan of both presidential trivia and political satire, I was looking forward to reading The Remarkable Millard Fillmore. Unfortunately, Pendle's bAs a fan of both presidential trivia and political satire, I was looking forward to reading The Remarkable Millard Fillmore. Unfortunately, Pendle's book isn't very "remarkable" on either count.
This is a fictional biography of America's 13th president, augmented by the supposedly undiscovered private papers of Millard Fillmore (which have been scrawled in ballpoint pen in handwriting that is clearly not Fillmore's) and hidden away in the jungles of Uganda since 1873.
The humor is often forced and sophomoric and more times than not falls flat. The comic misuse of facts and mangling of vocabulary is reminiscent of the Reduced Shakespeare Company's works (The Compleat Works of Shakespeare Abrgd) but often the jokes, puns and situations just aren't that funny. Here's an example. Fillmore encounters General Andrew Jackson in a tavern. Unaware of Jackson's lightning temper, nor of his bitterness about being accused of bigamy because Jackson's wife Rachel had not completed her divorce from her first husband before marrying Jackson, Fillmore talks about the weather and innocently tells the General that though the fog off Lake Erie was bad today "there is a bigger mist rolling in to town tomorrow". Thinking that Fillmore has said "bigamist" and is referring to his wife, Jackson challenges Fillmore to a duel. Groan.
Pendle seems to be trying to channel the comic madness of Mel Brooks "HISTORY OF THE WORLD PART I", but succeeds only in emulating Brooks' later and decidedly unfunnier works, like LIFE STINKS. Though this book doesn't stink, it sure doesn't live up to its comic potential. However, if you are in the market for a much funnier political satire that lampoons the presidency, I suggest FIRST LADY by Patrick Dennis....more
Though not technically a biography, Terkel's interviews with real workers (including parking lot attendants, waitressess, nurses, et al) provide a serThough not technically a biography, Terkel's interviews with real workers (including parking lot attendants, waitressess, nurses, et al) provide a series of biographical portraits that look at how society defines us not by who we are but by what we do.
Terkel had an innate gift for instilling trust in his subjects, who open up their hearts to him in surprisingly moving ways. ...more