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Lamentations of the Father: Essays

3.50  ·  Rating details ·  203 ratings  ·  43 reviews
When The Atlantic Monthly celebrated its 150th anniversary by publishing excerpts from the best writing ever to appear in the magazine, in the category of the humorous essay it chose only four pieces--one by Mark Twain, one by James Thurber, one by Kurt Vonnegut, and Ian Frazier's 1997 essay Lamentations of the Father. The title piece of this new collection has had an ongo ...more
Hardcover, 194 pages
Published April 29th 2008 by Farrar Straus Giroux
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3.50  · 
Rating details
 ·  203 ratings  ·  43 reviews

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Christopher Roth
Jul 24, 2015 rated it liked it
I'd never thought of Ian Frazier as a humorist, since I associated his name much more consciously with books like "Family" and "The Rez" than with his occasional pieces in The New Yorker and elsewhere. The blurb on the back made it sound like he hovers somewhere between Mark Twain and the Archangel Gabriel in the pantheon, but I must say these pieces, though occasionally very funny, left me feeling he's been quite oversold. Part of the problem here is that New Yorker short humor pieces have beco ...more
Feb 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: essays
Frazier, Ian. LAMENTATIONS OF THE FATHER. (2008). *****. This collection of essays by Frazier previously appeared in a variety of magazines – principally The Atlantic Monthly and The New Yorker. They are not all five-star essays, but the several six-star essays easily balance out the four-star ones. Frazier has a sense of humor that you can’t resist. There are a couple of classics in here: the title essay, “Lamentations of the Father,” and “The Cursing Mommy Cookbook” – both of which will leave ...more
Aug 13, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, non-fiction
Book of mostly-satirical essays, some of which are laugh-out-loud funny and some of which miss me. My favorite is the title essay, "Laws Concerning Food and Drink; Household Principles; Lamentations of the Father," which had us weeping with laughter. The Cursing Mommy chapters are pretty funny, too. "The New Poetry" does an English major's heart good, finishing old classics with lyrics from modern songs ("At once a voice arose among / The bleak twigs overhead...Hunh! Hotpants!"). I could also id ...more
Nancy Gillies
Feb 14, 2015 rated it liked it
I thought a handful of the essays in this book were laugh-out-loud funny, and the title essay is brilliant parody. Many of the essays just didn't do it for me at all so overall it was hit and miss.
Mar 13, 2017 rated it liked it
Uneven. Some was outstanding.
Terri Ann
Jul 02, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed, essays
Having read On the Rez a few years ago, I was excited to read Ian Frazier's newest book of essays. I was underwhelmed. Mr. Frazier used, and reused, the conceit of mock articles, news reports, and the like. Done well, this is Monty Python's Flying Circus or The Onion. In these essays, it was overused, which caused the later essays to be less entertaining than the earlier ones through boredom. It was overall uneven and not clever enough for its intent.
That said, there were some very funny bits. F
Jon Stout
Apr 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: the human and the humane
Ian Frazier’s book of humorous essays is similar to books I’ve read by Steve Martin and Woody Allen, except that Frazier offers a more gentle and humane view, one more understated than vaudevillian. All of the essays offer the reflections of a modest and reflective man about the foibles which infect himself and others, with a nonjudgmental attitude, except through the reader’s reaction to irony or understatement.

Two essays caused me to react with more than a smile or a laugh of recognition. “Kid
Brian DiMattia
May 04, 2011 rated it liked it
I look at Ian Frazier's Coyote Vs. Acme as one of my all time favorites. It's hilarious, unpredictable, fresh, original and sharp. I was hoping for more of the same from "Lamentations of the Father," but instead got what felt like retreads and attempts to recapture what made the older writing great.

As writers get older, sometimes their writing gets older too. Their focus in life goes to kids, middle age issues, maturity, and their writing reflects that as well. Here, Frazier mentions his kids fr
Jan 16, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: humor, essays
this book is far more even in its well-spun humor than coyote v. acme so i can recommend this book for a light-hearted yet jaundiced-eyed look at modern life. "laws concerning food and drink; household principles; lamentations of the father" is close to perfect and can be appreciated by mothers and fathers. "th-th-that's not all, folks" is a spoof on biography writing by way of cartoon characters and is an excellent send-up of biography writers as in herod's question "what is truth?" "kidproof" ...more
Oct 19, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'd read a couple of Frazier's pieces during grad school--"Bags in Trees," "Hogs Wild"--and decided, in a sudden fit of online-retail spontaneity, to buy this collection, and I admit I didn't know what exactly I was buying.

That being said, it all worked out okay. _Lamentations of the Father_ is a collection of first-person satire, and it took me a while to get into the rhythm of a new comedic narrator each time I started an essay. But I chuckled a bit. Some of the essays just weren't my thing, b
Nov 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
I will admit I checked this out thinking it would be children's book with one short story and was surprised it was filled with many essays. Not all of them as entertaining as the one I checked it out for which was the title. I'd heard Isiah Sheffer read it on Selected Shorts on NPR and just about died laughing and had to read it to my kids and reading groups. It is most definitely worth getting just for that one story. Or if you wanted I'm sure you could find a recording of Isiah reading it if y ...more
Apr 02, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: unfinished
Update: I ended up returning this book to the library unfinished. The book just didn't seem to hold up to its promise, and I found myself going, this isn't that funny and doesn't make sense, not as relatable as I thought it'd be. And I had some better options come in on hold at the library, so I abandoned it for now. I'm still curious as to whether it could have had some more funny parts, but at the time, it wasn't worth it to find out.

Original: I'm reading this book after seeing a video readin
Sep 25, 2016 rated it it was ok
The essay collection makes for ok reading when taking short trips on buses, trains, or in taxis. Some of the essays are full of depth and thought, others are humorous. If you haven't lived in the US in the times these essays were written, it might be hard to understand what Frazier is even talking about, as he references many then-current political events and personalities. There were a few good essays, and most of them average. Frazier has a certain kind of writing and humor, and either you lik ...more
Jul 04, 2011 rated it it was ok
I loved the title essay, and Cursing Mommy is always a hoot. Several of the other essays were worth a read; I particularly enjoyed "Caught," a parody/homage to Catcher in the Rye, as well as "Downpaging," a series of mock quotes by Americans about how they've saved money by not buying books, inspired by a piece from the Daily News titled, "Ten Sure Ways to Trim Your Budget." Many of the essays are now dated, which took away some of their zing. I got a taste of his style, and for that I'm glad I ...more
Sep 04, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-non-fiction
I found exactly two of these essays hilarious, and actually read only partially about 50% of the rest because I just wasn't getting it. The title essay hit spot-on-target many of my own parenting experiences, so much so that I had an out-loud dramatic reading of the "On Screaming" portion to my don't-let-the-foods-touch-each-other 16-year-old. I was otherwise underwhelmed and so disappointed when the rest of the book didn't live up to my hopes based on those early pages.
Jun 23, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
I heard an interview with the author regarding this book and was very excited to read it. The first chapter (article) was wonderful. He writes to his children using Old Testament language regarding eating in the living room and finishing their food so they can have dessert. Very funny. However, the rest of the book contains different articles written using various writing styles. Some are crude and offensive. I hoped for more like chapter 1.
. . . abandoned.
Alisa Muelleck
Ian Frazier wrote one of my favorite nonfiction New Yorker pieces ever, about the nonsense of plastic bags, so I looked forward to reading this book. But once I started thumbing through, I discovered it's less 15 pages about trains and more "Shouts & Murmurs," which are funny and witty but always just a hair above my comprehension. So I probably won't relish it. Bummer.
Jun 23, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2008
There were some very funny chapters in this short book of essays. I really liked the title essay and also the swearing mommy chapters, especially the swearing mommy putting up the Christmas tree. The half I liked made it worth it to read the whole thing. There were a few that I just didn't quite get but that's OK.
Steven Coberly
Jan 06, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Witty and intellectual. Sometimes I did not understand the political references well enough to fully appreciate the humor. But if I understood the context, the essays were hilarious and thought-provoking. And his Lamentations, biblical instructions to toddlers on the rules of the house regarding food and drink, had me sobbing with laughter.
Oct 07, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was popcorn—a volume of five-page humor pieces collected over fourteen years of Frazier's career. A few were mediocre, but most were quite witty and some had me in tears of laughter. Especially the title piece, which you can read here.
Oct 28, 2008 rated it did not like it
I scanned through quite a few of these essays looking for those that did not bore me, so it was a quick read. The title essay is cute and may be appreciated by stay-at-home dads everywhere, but that's the best I can say for this one.
Jun 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
- a companion to his previous humour collections "Dating Your Mom" and Coyote v. Acme" (both of which I loved)
- this collection of 36 essays range from 'smiling funny' to 'laugh-out-loud funny' (seriously)
- not a single dud in the book
Jun 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: readers of humor
Shelves: fun_literary
Very fun! The titular essay is by far the most laugh-out-loud-inducing. But many throughout the collection had me in a perpetual smile and almost-riotous laughter all the way through. The essays are short and so this is an easy book to have at your bedside to pick up in between books.
Michael Berman
Nov 15, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: essays
Uneven. The title essay is laugh out loud tears rolling down the cheek funny, and some others are quite good. I'd say at least half left me cold, though. In fairness, maybe they'd be better one at a time in their original magazine format, rather than being read one after another.
Jun 13, 2008 rated it liked it
One of my high school English teachers gave my class an essay of Ian Frazier's to read, and I don't think I've read any of his work since. Recognized the name when I saw this, though, and enjoyed most of the essays. He comes at subjects from an angle that you just don't quite expect...
Apr 01, 2010 rated it really liked it
Very funny! Loved the Cursing Mother essays!
Jun 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
As with any collection, it's a mixed bag. But the good ones made me laugh 'til the tears came.
Sep 04, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011-book-list
Some were great, some So three stars.
Jeff Song
Jul 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: humor
The title piece, Lamentations of the Father, is one of my all time favorite pieces of humor writing that I love to share with people - especially if they have kids...
Nov 02, 2010 rated it did not like it
With the exception of the title essay, these essays were silly and not funny at all. I was very disappointed.
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Ian Frazier (b.1951) is an American writer and humorist. He is the author of Travels in Siberia, Great Plains, On the Rez, Lamentations of the Father and Coyote V. Acme, among other works, all published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. He graduated from Harvard University. A frequent contributor to The New Yorker, he lives in Montclair, New Jersey.