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Lanterns and Lances

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  174 ratings  ·  23 reviews
"I trust that this collection of pieces will prove that I ave not become, at sixty six going on fifty, as one friend of mine gallantly put it, completely lugubrious. Many things, or rather peoplee and ideas, are dealt with here in what I hope is a humorous vein."
Paperback, Time Reading Program Special Edition, 180 pages
Published 1980 by Time-Life Books Inc. (first published January 1961)
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3.70  · 
Rating details
 ·  174 ratings  ·  23 reviews

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Daniel Shapiro
Buried in these enjoyable yet slightly bitter essays is a timely fable called “The Last Clock” about an ogre that eats clocks. Recommended for that story alone.
Cynthia Egbert
Nov 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-and-read
I am stunned to see that I have not yet reviewed this book but since I just finished another reading, I will go ahead and offer up my review. I was given this gift from a special soul, someone I consider my big brother because he knows that I am a Thurber junkie and have been since I first discovered A Thurber Carnival while in high school and I love the essays in this book. They feed my word lover self and make me so grateful that I am not alone with some of the bizarre thoughts that plague my ...more
Nov 22, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Most humor has a shelf life. Not all of it, of course. The plays of Aristophanes can still make you burst out laughing, as can some of Shakespeare’s madcap moments. Most of it, however, eventually moves from makes-you-laugh to makes-you-smile to this-is-just-dumb. Alas, Thurber has fallen into this category. His wry, indirect style does not appeal to people raised on in-your-face humor.

This is a collection of twenty-four of his pieces. Churning out words on demand to meet a deadline is hard wor
Sep 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I particularly appreciated the 'Porcupines' essay (about writers' arguments), which included various possible combinations and justifications for meeting an animal listing criteria.
Nov 17, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
These short essays by Thurber are mildly amusing, but never elicited a full chortle.
May 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays
63. LANTERNS AND LANCES. (1961). James Thurber. *****.
I have to admit that it wasn’t that long ago that I read “The Library of America’s” collection of Thurber’s work, but when I came across a stand alone copy of one of his best known works, I couldn’t resist. James Thurber (1894-1961) was born, raised and educated in Ohio. He ultimately gravitated to New York City where he eventually became a fixture on the “New Yorker” staff. This book, the last one published while he was still alive, is comp
Jan 10, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Writers, editors, teachers
Shelves: humor, short-stories
I only wish someone had encouraged, coerced or forced me to read Thurber sooner.

This collection doesn't hit the humorous heights of "My Life and Hard Times," but here Thurber reveals himself as an editor's writer. I would venture that "Lanterns & Lances" is actually a writing handbook wearing the guise of a collection of humorous essays.

Some of the titles tell the tale: "The Spreading 'You Know,'" "Such a a Phrase as Drifts Through Dreams," "The Tyranny of Trivia," "The Wings of Henry James,
Jul 30, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This collection of late-period Thurber pieces unfortunately contains little real humor and much more grumpy old man get-off-my-lawn musings and tedious wordplay. But it does contain this passage, which made the whole thing worth it:

"Ah thought you-all was Bing Crosby," said the windlestraw, in a fake Dixie that was not too bad for one in her cups. Fake Dixie always enchants me after midnight. I prayed God to keep my hand off her knee.
Josh Bauder
Most of the humorous essays in this collection achieve their comedic effect through puns, wordplay, and turns of phrase. Thurber obviously delights in words (and individual letters) themselves - their sheer sound, appearance, and connotations. Thurber's comedic pursuits are sometimes annoyingly pointless, but still it’s a good book to fall asleep to.
I think I am living in the wrong decade to enjoy this. Maybe that means I am not trying hard enough, but whatever. I felt the same way reading S. J. Perlman. I know they were influential humorists in their day, but I just didn't get into it.
Nov 19, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Possibly not his best, but some of the essays (e.g. 'The Wings of Henry James') are wonderful. Lots of people probably don't have a lot of patience a half century after they were written to untangle his syntax.

Nov 05, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Late Thurber. Not his best. Some interesting essays though. He frequently expresses admiration for Henry James. This is odd because Thurber is the least Jamesean writer one can imagine; and James the least Thurberesque.
Jun 30, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I have to teach "Walter Mitty" in my classes so I thought I would read a collection of his short stories in order to expose the students to more Thurber. Wrong. The stories are way weird and in no way could I teach them. Bummer.
May 26, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, humor
I just love James Thurber. That's all.
Oct 26, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays, humor
Later Thurber, still funny though!
Jan 21, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not bad, but not his best either.
Susan Rothenberg
Aug 26, 2014 rated it liked it
The book shows both the brilliance and the lunacy of James Thurber. Parts of it are brilliantly funny. Parts intellectually mind boggling and parts very dense.
Jul 31, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american, humor
Worth reading for the short, humorous "The darlings at the top of the stairs" -- about our child-centered society.
Not my favorite of Thurber's books, but still a good read.
Ben B
Feb 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-own
I never get tired of Thurber's writing. His stories make wonderful, casual reading.
 Linda (Miss Greedybooks)
Thurber - what else can I say - I love all of his work!!!
Uncle B
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Thurber was born in Columbus, Ohio to Charles L. Thurber and Mary Agnes (Mame) Fisher Thurber. Both of his parents greatly influenced his work. His father, a sporadically employed clerk and minor politician who dreamed of being a lawyer or an actor, is said to have been the inspiration for the small, timid protagonist typical of many of his stories. Thurber described his mother as a "born comedien ...more
“Half a mile from Haverstraw there lived a halfwit fellow,
Half his house was brick and red, and half was wood and yellow;
Half the town knew half his name but only half could spell it.
If you will sit for half an hour, I’ve half a mind to tell it.”
More quotes…