Deborah's Reviews > The Lives and Times of Archy and Mehitabel

The Lives and Times of Archy and Mehitabel by Don Marquis
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Feb 24, 08

Recommended for: anybody with a sense of humor
Read in February, 2008

I was excited to read this book after encountering E.B. White's introduction to it (in a collection of E.B. White's work), and still it managed to surpass my expectations.

The premise is that a cockroach is possessed by the transmigrated soul of a free verse poet named Archy, and Archy types poems every night in the office of a newspaper columnist (Don Marquis) by hopping and pounding each typewriter key with his head. Don Marquis first employed the Archy character in 1916. The column remained popular throughout the 1920s, and collections of the popular column entries began to appear in the 1930s.

Since he can't hold down the shift key, Archy's works are free of capitalization and punctuation. His sidekick is a dancing alley cat named Mehitabel (who claims to be possessed by the transmigrated soul of Cleopatra, among others). Together, they cover a broad number of subjects, including politics, the arts, economics, and alcohol...they have lots to say about alcohol.

These are a few of my favorite Archyisms:

an optimist is a guy
that has never had
much experience

* * *

prohibition makes you
want to cry
into your beer and
denies you the beer
to cry into
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