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The Fran Lebowitz Reader

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  1,357 Ratings  ·  133 Reviews
Fran Lebowitz in
Public Speaking
A Martin Scorsese Picture
Now an HBO® Documentary Film

The Fran Lebowitz Reader
brings together in one volume, with a new preface, two bestsellers, Metropolitan Life and Social Studies, by an "important humorist in the classic tradition" (The New York Times Book Review) who is "the natural successor to Dorothy Parker" (British Vogue). In "elega
Paperback, 352 pages
Published November 8th 1994 by Vintage
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Jan 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: humor
Fran Lebowitz is a New York humorist who worked as a columnist for Andy Warhol's Interview before publishing her first collection of comic essays, Metropolitan Life, in 1978. In The Fran Lebowitz Reader, that first book has been re-released in combination with her second 1981 essay collection, Social Studies.

I first heard about Fran after watching the Martin Scorsese-IFC documentary about her, Public Speaking. That she is a fascinating and very funny person is obvious from the outset. Whether or
“All of God’s children are not beautiful. Most of God’s children are, in fact, barely presentable. The most common error made in matters of appearance is the belief that one should disdain the superficial and let the true beauty of one’s soul shine through. If there are places on your body where this is a possibility, you are not attractive – you are leaking.”

“Sleep is death without the responsibility.”

“Great people talk about ideas, average people talk about things, and small people talk about
Mar 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writers-writing
A personal favorite. Her words rhythmically jump of the page--so you've GOT to read it out loud. So caustic. So funny. Lebowitz is so good at making fun--and she's not above making fun of herself. But perhaps my love for this book only proves that I am an elitist snob at heart?

Every writer (of all kinds) should read it.
Jan 15, 2014 rated it it was ok
Let's get this out of the way: Fran Lebowitz is incredibly talented. A razor sharp and reckless wit, cutting up culture in the manner of Oscar Wilde or Dorothy Parker. She's a wizard of the turn of phrase, of reversing meaning to create a new frame through which to view culture, almost always a humorous one. But Fran Lebowitz is also kind of a jerk, dodging sincerity and sticking it to anyone (and everyone) that doesn't fall into her tiny worldview. The Fran Lebowitz Reader is a compilation of L ...more
Feb 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
If you’re going to pen complaints from an apartment in Greenwich Village (however modest it may be by New York standards), those complaints are only funny if you understand their relative lack of merit. By which I mean that the hilarity of people like Fran Lebowitz and Larry David isn’t that they don’t know they’re being assholes. It’s that they do know it, and don’t care. I think to some degree that very brand of comedy, if it didn’t originate in New York, is at least emblematic of the people w ...more
Giselle Rodriguez
Jun 15, 2011 rated it it was ok
Very smart and opinionated, but reads a bit dated for 2011. If you're from her era, there's a better chance you'll appreciate what she's saying (circa the real deal Studio 54). Wish she hadn't hit that writer's block . It would have been interesting to hear her thoughts on NYC, the economy, and society in In other news, the documentary Scorsese did about her for HBO, Public Speaking, is excellent.
Raymon Gottfredson
Dec 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Everyone that loves to laugh
Recommended to Raymon by: No one.
One of the best cynical humorists in the business. For anyone that loves/hates New York life and smokes. Or doesn't.
Benjamin Kahn
Apr 19, 2015 rated it did not like it
Wow! Did I not like this book. What a slog! There were a couple of mildly amusing parts, but if you don't find Lebowitz funny, there's nothing interesting here. It's not like it's amusing and educational.

I might have found her mildly amusing if I came across an article in a magazine, but page after page of the same snarky, world-weary prose is really hard to take. And it's aimed so much at people living in New York! Having never even been to New York, I just don't care. I'll cut her a little sl
Jan 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
Fran Lebowitz would never be friends with someone like me because I would bore her to death. But a girl can dream. Lebowitz is not exactly prolific, and these essays actually were written decades ago. But it is a timeless truth that, as Lebowitz asserts, one should never allow your kids to mix cocktails because it is unseemly and besides, they use too much vermouth. She is not only the urbane, witty, and worthy successor to Dorothy Parker, to my mind she is the female reincarnation of James Thur ...more
Alison Iris Mandelker-Burnett
May 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
If you love to laugh and love NYC, then this is the best book! NYers have a terrible attention span, so these short humor essays are the best way to get through an afternoon.
Dec 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: belles-lettres
So many gems, but my favorite is from "Notes on Trick," her parody of Sontag: "The mistreatment of the Trick is the revenge of the intelligent upon the beautiful."
Apr 13, 2017 rated it did not like it
I love Fran Lebowitz the public figure, the canny social satirist, and it looks like I hate Fran Lebowitz the writer.
“Very few people possess true artistic ability. It is therefore both unseemly and unproductive to irritate the situation by making an effort. If you have a burning, restless urge to write or paint, simply eat something sweet and the feeling will pass. Your life story would not make a good book. Do not even try.”
She says and she’s been living by this credo for decades. Her so-cal
Mar 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Bir tür Fran Lebowitz Sözlüğü.

Yaşadığımız gerçekliğin kendisi ile; daha doğru tanımla, bize sunulan, dayatılan hayatın kendisi ile ilişkisi bildiğimiz türden olmayan birisi, Fran Lebowitz. Hakkında çevrilmiş "Public Speaking" adlı Martin Scorsese yapımı, HBO Belgeseli -ki kesinlikle tavsiye ederim ve spoiler vermek gerekirse Scorsese aslında yoktur orada :)- ve katıldığı birçok programı da izlemiş biri olarak; Orada duran, verdiği cevapları gerçekten hissederek mi söylüyor diye çok defa sorular
Apr 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
Written between the mid-1970s through 1981, this collection of 69 short form humor essays feature observations from Lebowitz on all matters of discussion including religion, politics, food, sex, as well as her disdain for people and outdoors. Witty and subversive, Lebowitz dryly uses unconventional wisdom to solve her own problems by eliminating everything that gets in her way which is primarily you, the reader. Parents, landlords, agents, and even pontiffs should take notice as Fran has some pr ...more
Blair Andrews
Apr 19, 2011 rated it liked it
This paperback is a collection of short essays originally published as two bestsellers in the 1970s (Metropolitan Life and Social Studies). Back then, her books defined knowing, urban cool. Guess what? They still do. If you were a mite too young to appreciate Leibowitz's take on that libertine decade the first time around (like me - I was just a toddler), now is an excellent time to make her acquaintance. The pieces still hold up as good writing and deliver plenty of sharp laughs. Some of the to ...more
Matthew Glaubman
May 07, 2013 rated it liked it
As a person currently living in New York, I found many of the chapters to be interesting and still holding true to this day. I also found her writing to be humorous at times, but the book also has a lot of "filler". It is like reading someone's journal who can have profound and entertaining ideas, but then read someone just thinking out loud. Since each chapter discusses a different thought/idea, by halfway through the book I found it better to bounce around chapters. Her thought process reflect ...more
May 17, 2011 rated it it was ok
I thought I would like this a lot more. Am I the only one bothered by the fact that a few of the jokes are vaguely racist? Because none of the reviews mention it, so maybe it's just me. Anyway. You have to put up with a lot of cranky humbug, but it occasionally pays off, as in the proposed Writer's Strike piece and the Woody Allenesque "The Last Laugh." There are also quite a few choice witticisms, such as: "Being offended is the natural consequence of leaving one's home." Which is, basically, r ...more
Mar 11, 2015 rated it liked it
Very clever, very New York. I found myself wishing I could follow Lebowitz's Twitter account because her one-liners are impeccable. However - it must be said - the collection suffers a bit in this format simply because her viewpoint is so well-defined as to become predictable and the humor subsequently loses its edge. Would be a good book to pick up and rifle through occasionally instead of reading cover to cover.
Courtney Henley-Anderson
Apr 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I LOVE FRAN! She is just so funny! I had the great honor oF sharing a cigarette with her (back when I still smoked) at a party in Harlem and we talked about the amazing article she wrote for "Vanity Fair" magazine on the subject of race and more selectively white privilege in America. It was the most insightful and spot on article ever written on the subject.
Dan Lalande
Jul 05, 2014 rated it liked it
Observational essays - most an intro, a list of hit-and-miss one-liners, then a 'pun'-chline - from NY humorist Fran Lebowitz, largely from the height of her fame. It's best regarded as a time capsule, holding the catty Eastern ego of angst era Manhattan's queen of the quotable, though a few of her bromides - 'Sleep is death without the responsibility' - transcend their time.
Chris Kryaninko
Jun 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Almost every essay made me laugh out loud. So many priceless lines ("Think before you speak. Read before you think."), and despite all of the essays being written well before my birth, they are seemingly timeless. Besides a few cultural references I lost (easily fixed by Google search), many of her observations matched so perfectly to my cynic's view.
Sep 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I reread this book after I saw Fran on The Tonight Show. She is and always will be the New Yorker's New Yorker. I lived vicariously in the 80's through Fran Lebowitz writings and enjoyed reading them again this time.
Debra Komar
May 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite books of essays. Sharp, observant and irreverent. A few pieces have not stood the test of time but the majority are still as biting and smart today as the day she wrote them.
May 20, 2013 rated it it was ok
Funny, but if I wanted a collection of snarky complaining I'd just keep a journal.
Aug 30, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: bio-memoir-essay
Fran Lebowitz is a snobby New Yorker with very distinct preferences and dry humor that is often outrageous and/or offensive. Her opinions are well represented by, "All God's children are not beautiful. Most of God's children are, in fact, barely presentable." In this collection of essays she 1. bemoans her writer's block and 2. instructs other people (and animal, plants, colors, music,...) how to not bother her. Follow these steps "to reach the eventual goal of acceptable behavior," she says. In ...more
Jun 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fall-2015
Picked by: Amelia

"The Fran Lebowitz Reader" by Fran Lebowitz made me feel deeply understood. She is the only other person that I know of to hate indoor plants as much as I do. She makes organized lists of things that irk her. She believes in a strict code of etiquette. I once borrowed this book from Charlotte Fassler and never gave it back because I love it so much. I cannot let it go. It is the kind of book you need to call your friend and read chapters to (someone actually says this on the bac
Sep 22, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017
Many selections were quite funny, and I imagine I'd rate this higher if I had read it differently (i.e., having it on a bedside table and reading one or two essays a night). However, as sustained reading this gets old a little too quickly. It's sort of like reading hundreds of Shouts & Murmurs columns all in a row.
Ash Todd
Oct 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The funniest woman in America!
Jul 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: essays
From 3 of her essay collections. Many are dated, but they are still a really funny look at life in NYC.
William Gortowski
Oct 01, 2017 rated it liked it
Rather dated but she is funnier in the HBO documentary Scorcese made about her.
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Frances Ann "Fran" Lebowitz is an American author and public speaker. Lebowitz is known for her sardonic social commentary on American life as filtered through her New York City sensibilities. Some reviewers have called her a modern-day Dorothy Parker.
More about Fran Lebowitz...
“Think before you speak. Read before you think.” 6414 likes
“There's no such thing as advice to the lovelorn. If they took advice, they wouldn't be lovelorn.” 26 likes
More quotes…