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Extravaganza: A Joke Book
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Extravaganza: A Joke Book

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  50 Ratings  ·  9 Reviews
“The creative act par excellence.”—Denis Donoghue

Extravaganza is the eeriest comic novel of our generation.”—Cynthia Ozick
Paperback, 190 pages
Published January 1st 1995 by White Pine Press (first published March 27th 1989)
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Nov 29, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I read about 20 percent of the book only to get a taste of it to write a catalog listing. A strange experiment in fiction presented as a vaudeville script. I'm not sure what the deeper message might be but perhaps something about Jewish survivors' guilt or self-loathing after the Holocaust. Imagine Martin Luther King talking about race issues through the medium of a minstrel show. Something like that.
Reynard Seifert
Nov 27, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Are you the doctor?

What the fuck are you talking about, dickhead?

This book will punch you in the face if you don't watch your face. Keep a mirror around; use it often.

But I have to say that the idea this is a comedy is somewhat misleading; I don't think it is. Seems like an experiment in monotony.
Daniel Tyler
Confounding. Two men tell jokes with conventional setup-punchline structure, then retell the jokes ad nauseam with increasingly menial detail. Every now and then they will break out into Anti-Semitic rants, especially when a joke involves trains. Perhaps this is some commentary on the American Jewish experience and comedy/joke-telling after the Holocaust? An interesting read, very trying at times. I did not understand it!!
May 04, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
May 2015: Re-reading.

May 5th: A very bizarre book, one which I enjoyed but would hesitate to recommend. When it came out (1989), the NY Times review said, "Jokes may abound in ''Extravaganza,'' but Mr. Lish makes sure that existential despair keeps whistling through the cracks." Kirkus Review hated it ("appalling work of fiction").
Michelle Williams
May 02, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Required reading for an English lit class, but despite that I couldn't even finish it ... and I rarely leave a book unfinished.
May 02, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A disappointment to me after all the other great Lish reads. Bad jokes are called bad jokes for a reason.
Ismael Schonhorst
Boring funny; so YES!
Morgan Brown
I don't know how I feel about this book. I'm gay.
Jon Cone
rated it it was amazing
Dec 17, 2008
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Gordon Jay Lish is an American writer. As a literary editor, he championed many American authors, particularly Raymond Carver, Barry Hannah, Amy Hempel, and Richard Ford.
More about Gordon Lish...