Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Fish Whistle: Commentaries, Uncommentaries, And Vulgar Excesses” as Want to Read:
Fish Whistle: Commentaries, Uncommentaries, And Vulgar Excesses
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Fish Whistle: Commentaries, Uncommentaries, And Vulgar Excesses

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  338 ratings  ·  37 reviews
Seventy humorous short essays--many autobiographical--by a commentator for National Public Radio combine story-telling with acerbic social satire in the manner of S.J. Perelman and James Thurber.
Hardcover, 232 pages
Published January 21st 1989 by Da Capo Press (first published 1989)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Fish Whistle, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Fish Whistle

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.08  · 
Rating details
 ·  338 ratings  ·  37 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Fish Whistle: Commentaries, Uncommentaries, And Vulgar Excesses
Sep 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a pleasant collection of short essays, many of which were previously read by the author on NPR. Pinkwater waxes eloquently on his boyhood, his weight, writing and art, teaching writing and art, and owning befriending dogs.

No surprise here, but my favorite essays involved food and memories of great meals shared.

Here Pinkwater talks about an eatery from his youth:

Grease was the motif at Fred's. Instantly I would enter the place, a fine mist of grease suspended in the air would adhere to my
Jan 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of my favorite books of all time. I bought this when I was eight years old at a Pinkwater book signing at Brentano's at the Poughkeepsie Galleria. In addition to being hilarious and insightful, this book is one of the most useful, unpretentious and underrated guides to becoming a writer or artist of any kind (and it offers plenty of bonus tips on animal husbandry and training, world traveling, model airplane building and grease consumption). ...more
Hannah Garden
Jan 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was reading this in bed last night and laughing 0UT L0UD. H0w many times d0es that happen?? N0t en0ugh. Fantastic!

This was so good, Karen, thank you!
Jul 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor
I love this book. It's a wonderful little collection of short essays, originally read by Pinkwater on NPR. Hilarious, bite-sized anecdotes about his family, his dogs, his career, adventures in Africa, adventures in eating. I love Pinkwater! ...more
Oct 01, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, free-ebook
This was a Kindle freebie I got because of a shout-out at Boing Boing.

Like the recently read Dalek I Loved You, this is a humorous memoir by someone I had never heard of before reading the book. There are some differences. Pinkwater is of an earlier generation, and this book is a collection of short pieces written for radio or print, and does not really have an unifying theme as such. He writes about things like dog-training, building model airplanes as a kid, being fat, the general absurdities
Christopher Bunn
I first discovered Daniel Pinkwater when I was a young boy, wandering the stacks of the Steinbeck library in my hometown of Salinas. The first few books of his that I read (The Magic Moscow, The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death, and The Worms of Kukulima) were a revelation. Pinkwater's fiction was a breath of fresh air unlike any other I had inhaled before, flavored with late-night hot dogs piled high with bright green relish, illicit chili, and avocados (of course!).

Who knew the mysteriou
Jul 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved Daniel Pinkwater books as a child (well, if I'm honest, I love them as an adult, too) and these little vignettes from his life show where a lot of his weird characters came from - real life! It was written in the mid-80s, and I had read it about a decade ago, and it was delightful to revisit. DP is just a really cool guy. ...more
Robin Winter
May 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Although I've only just read the book this past week, the audio recordings were a staple of my childhood. Hearing him tell you the stories, complete with voice mimicry, made it something really special (the recordings are available free to download on his site pinkwater dot com).

I definitely recommend this book, it's rich with humor and sentiment.

(Eat pudding)
Apr 24, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Yet another book I checked out because it had the word "fish" in the title. ...more
Kathleen Celmins
I can't remember why I bought this, only that it was probably because someone said he had good tips about writing. It was an excellent read. ...more
Apr 01, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was my first Pinkwater book, discovered at Mercer Street Books, an old favorite used bookstore.
Dan Blackley
Jul 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another book of stories and essays from Pinkwater.
Robert Cohen
Jun 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Those of you who have been listening to All Things Considered on NPR know that the years 1974 to 1979 were the Golden Age of ATC. Why? Mostly because the very best hosts in ATC history, Susan Stamberg and Bob Edwards, presided. But during and beyond those memorable years, ATC hosted a wide variety of brilliant commentators, folks whose daily audio essays on any subject they happened to find interesting, spiced up the broadcast. They were the sort of thought pieces that you waited an entire hour ...more
Dec 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I would sum up the book like this: Humor mixed with poignant words of wisdom till the last drop. A wonderful book.

Not every story has the same level of humor but I certainly laughed my buttocks off at times. Pinkwater is a YA author, but proves quite admirably that he can write entertaining stories for adults (i.e. big kids). "Gaudeamus Agita" was especially memorable in this respect. It's one of the jewels tucked away inside the book, and reminds me of the experiences I had in the college. The
Sep 24, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first time I read "Young Adult Novel", somewhere around 1992, it totally fn changed my life. I didn't read anything else by Pinkwater until 1997, when my friend Delancey turned me on to "The Big Orange Splot". In the next few weeks, I read at least twenty of D.M.P.'s books and this was one of them. I found him to be brilliant and I was enthralled by every single word. Upon rereading it recently, I still loved it, but more like getting it after a long period of chastity; I was totally satisfi ...more
Mar 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2013, ebook
This was linked from, and was free, so I thought I would give something different a go. I thoroughly enjoyed it, moving from short observational stories, short but sweet commentaries, through family memories. It made me smile and chuckle and sigh, and it was nice to take my time and think about the stories, which is why I do like books of short stories. I would highly recommend it. Eat Pudding!

I have not read any of his childrens books but might have a wander through a couple of t
Joshua Gross
All the essays in this collection are short. Some are more interesting than others, some are funnier than others, some are more insightful. I learned a little more about one of my favorite authors and about dog training and malamutes, the world of childrens book publishing and interesting food, and was surprisingly interested in an essay about airplane model building in the olden days. I also enjoyed the essay on differentiating between Moslem fundamentalists and terrorists. It was quite an asso ...more
Nick Fagerlund
I've been meaning to read more of Pinkwater's fiction, but this collection of his NPR commentaries and assorted writings fell into my lap first. (It was free on Kindle a few months back.)

It's charming as heck and occasionally quite wise, well worth a read if you’ve enjoyed any other Pinkwater. But the main thing I took away was that the Chicken Man, a central character from _Lizard Music,_ was... apparently 100% real?!!?!!?! This is obviously some kind of glitch in the matrix.
Feb 26, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pinkwater wrote some of my favorite books as a kid (in particular the sadly out of print Tooth-Gnasher Superflash), and this was my first exposure to his nonfiction. A collection of very short essays and thoughts, this book presents the author as an extremely interesting and dryly funny person.

Available for free to amazon prime members via the Kindle lending library.
Trixie Fontaine


On top of it being a super lovable and funny collection of short (and often just perfectly slightly magical) essays, for fans of his books for kids there are some neat insights and connections to those stories, too. LIKE: THERE WAS A REAL CHICKEN MAN!!! IN CHICAGO!!!
Unflinching honesty seasoned with a whole lot of humor and genuine appreciation for life and the characters who inhabit it. Before this book I was wholly unfamiliar with Daniel Pinkwater. After this book, I am a fan searching out more of his work. Lovely bite sized bon mots, absurdity, and the deeply, sublimely, mundanely profound.
Gregor Xane
Feb 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who like to read on the toilet.
Shelves: 2013
This was a pleasure to read. It was thought-provoking and certainly provided some chuckles. And it reminded me of how much I liked his books when I was a younger person. Daniel Pinkwater is a class act!
Feb 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, memoir, essays
I read stacks of his fiction when I was a kid. I wish more were available as eBooks, I'd be chewing through them all, one after another. This little collection of essays is superb - the ones on art appreciation, building habits, and his love of dogs are especially delightful. ...more
Some of the commentaries in this little collection are delightful. Some are whimsical, and some I think were stuck in to flesh the volume out. I am a fan of Mr. Pinkwater, and I wish I'd been able to hear these on NPR as they were meant to be heard. It's possible something is lost on the page. ...more
Amusing short essays and anecdotes, charmingly told by the author, but without any great substance. Apparently many of them were originally short monologues for radio, which I imagine would have worked very well.
Jun 04, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2013
Not only did I laugh out loud at several points in this collection of essays, I also picked up tidbits of advice that I deemed worthy enough to add to my list of words that should change my life. As far as I know, I have never read a Pinkwater book. I think I need to read more of his work.
Aug 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, humor
Most of these essays were written for "All things considered," the NPR radio show, and are correspondingly short. Most of them are funny, and some of them are incredibly funny, but the ones about Pinkwater's father are side-splitting. ...more
Jul 06, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Wonderful to read, and pure pleasure to listen to.
Oct 30, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone in need of many laughs
This is basically stuff he wrote for NPR's All Things Considered and it is DAMN funny. Some bits are heartwarming and tear inducing. Most bits are damn funny. ...more
Feb 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hilarious and delightful read. Pinkwater is a master at his craft. Definitely worth a read and re-read and another re-read...
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Lizard Music
  • Alan Mendelsohn, the Boy from Mars
  • Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You
  • This Is How You Lose the Time War
  • Infinite
  • A Deadly Influence (Abby Mullen Thrillers, #1)
  • Cat & Mouse (Alex Cross, #4)
  • Interstellar Pig (Interstellar Pig #1)
  • Oddballs
  • Among the Dolls
  • Just Who Will You Be?
  • The Executioner's Song
  • They Called Us Enemy
  • Diary of a Tokyo Teen: A Japanese-American Girl Travels to the Land of Trendy Fashion, High-Tech Toilets and Maid Cafes
  • Teasing Secrets from the Dead: My Investigations at America's Most Infamous Crime Scenes
  • Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the Twentieth Century
  • The Stepford Wives
  • Dead Men Do Tell Tales: The Strange and Fascinating Cases of a Forensic Anthropologist
See similar books…
See top shelves…
Daniel Manus Pinkwater is an author of mostly children's books and is an occasional commentator on National Public Radio. He attended Bard College. Well-known books include Lizard Music, The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death, Fat Men from Space, Borgel, and the picture book The Big Orange Splot. Pinkwater has also illustrated many of his books in the past, although for more recent works that ...more

Related Articles

Trying to bust a reading slump? No time to sink into a long novel? Prefer plots that can be contained in a handful of pages? Then a short story...
71 likes · 7 comments
“Good evening ladies and gentlemen. Eat pudding. Books are good. Eat pudding. If kids read a lot. Eat pudding. They'll get so they can think clearly. Eat pudding. And if enough kids read and think. Eat pudding. We will have world peace. Eat pudding. Thank you very much. Eat pudding.” 6 likes
“Of course, an unchanged mind is a little like unchanged underwear. It tends to get unattractive even to the person whose mind or underwear it is.” 1 likes
More quotes…