David Thorne is an Australian humourist, satirist, Internet personality and New York Times best-selling author. His work has been featured on the BBC, The Late Show with David Letterman, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and Late Night with Conan O'Brien. Thorne gained public recognition in late 2008 for an email exchange in which he attempts to pay an overdue bill with a drawing of a seven-legged spider. The exchange spread virally via email and social networking sites, leading to a surge of visitors to his website 27b/6 (27bslash6). 27b/6 features a collection of humorous emails and articles from Thorne's life. These and additional essays appear in Thorne's book, The Internet is a Playground. Published by Penguin Group and released on 28 April 2011, the book debuted at number four on The New York Times Best Seller list.
Please do future readers a favor by placing a warning on the cover of the book. The warning needs to state something to the effect of: "Warning. Do not begin this book if you have anything important scheduled in the next several hours. Also, do not begin reading this book in a public place where you may be the victim of scorn for laughing so hard you snort. Please do not read this book at bedtime, as loss of sleep will result. Further, please do not read this book if you have no sense of humor as this could cause uncomfortable body tremors and, for you, unusual happiness."
Thorne's humor is decidedly hit or miss. His shenanigans with religions demagogues and a pompous blowhard of a coworker (who demands he makes a logo. With pie charts. For free) are laugh out loud funny, but many of the pranks are juvenile, crass, mean-spirited, or just simply not funny.
Personally, I'm not a fan of humor had at the expense of others if it's easy. Someone who satirizes power, like Colbert in his now infamous 2006 White House Correspondence Dinner address, is brave. Someone who picks on the haplessly stupid is just lazy. Much of Thorne's dubious humor falls into laziness, poking fun at naive neighbors, a worried woman asking for help her missing cat poster, and putting down his victims with all sorts of unsavory and unoriginal inquiries on their masculinity or sexuality. In one story, he uses his young son as a prop to accuse another of being a woman or gay -- as if that's an insult that makes any sense if you're not sexist or homophobic.
I'd say skip buying it, but some parts are worth skimming through a friend's copy. By the last third, all the stories are played out and additional content just feels like rehashing of the beginning of the book. Probably good for an hour's worth of amusement, but not much more. Skip altogether if crude he-man (and somewhat mean-spirited and juvenile) humor is something that makes you cringe. Tucker Max fans and devotees of Thorne's website ought to find this amazingly funny, but I suspect that for most others, the jokes fall flat at best, or display something ugly about the author's sense of humor.
A round-up -- a lot of okay gags and writing, a few gems. The allure for me was Thorne's transcripts of email conversations, where he basically annoys the crap out of co-workers, bureaucratic functionaries, and internet trolls. I laughed a few times, and generally enjoyed the book, 'though reading at Thorne's website might reap the same benefits while allowing you the comfort of skipping past anything that isn't quite working.
Meanwhile, I love to play pranks. Here is a great idea for a prank:
Start a social-networking site about... say, books. Establish inclusive guidelines, focused on readers--who invest time and energy in constructing a library of books, as well as an expansive database of reviews and ratings. The readers will soon find one another and the connections will spur community development and things will take off!
7 or 8 years later, begin selling the databases - marketing access to the readers to books and big corpos...
1. Some people deserve to be messed with, and some don't. A person doing their job and collecting an unpaid bill, or a cop doing due diligence, or a cat owner who is worried sick...I'm not sure there's any reason to be so self-congratulatory about making their lives miserable.
2. Speaking of self-congratulatory, the entire book could just say "I'm really proud of myself" over and over, and it would have had the same effect.
3. While many parts are funny, and Thorne knows how to write, cleverness doesn't always equal comic genius. I'm shocked that so many Goodreads folks love this book, as the quality of their reviews tends to be more heady. But I guess you wouldn't be interested in it if you hadn't been into his equally as inconsequential website. Either way, Thorne writes one way, with a finite set of humorous devices that follow the same pattern over and over. It's just lazy writing and even the people he's emailing just seem to get bored with it.
4. Sounds like he sure is encouraging his kid to become a real dick?
There's good stuff to read and this isn't one of those good stuffs. Move along, everyone.
mid-read: So hmm. This very well illustrates one of the big issues with the blog-to-book phenomenon. David Thorne is a hilarious dick, and he's known mostly for these ridiculous email exchanges he (supposedly) has with actual hapless morons, like the Blockbuster clerk, the volunteer chaplain at his son's school, his new neighbor, his building manager, etc. And as short quick standalone pieces, these really are awesome (provided you don't think too hard about his poor naïve prey).
But the publisher I'm sure could sense that having them all chockablock like that would dilute the humor, plus of course you have to have some new stuff for the book that's not on the blog—otherwise why would anyone buy the cow when you can get the milk for free on teh internets? So they've interspersed the seemingly effortlessly funny emails about piecharts and missing cats with a lot of little listicles and essays and things, most of which feel forced and therefore not very funny.
Plus anyway, even with the added variety, it all begins to feel a bit samey, all these short pieces illustrating that David is very funny and fairly cruel and not at all someone you'd want to spend much time with. He's a troll, is what, which is funny for a little while but not that long.
So I dunno. Probably I will finish it? But I think I'll take some time off and read something a little more substantial first.
before reading: I want this now. Have you heard of this guy? He does this hilariously cruel website, www.27bslash6.com, where he has email correspondences with awful, demanding, idiotic people. I have no idea if they're real or imagined or some combination thereof, but oh god they are delicious. Did I say I want this book now? Now, dammit!!
In case you are not convinced that this crazy man is a comedic genius, here is a random few sentences where he talks about why he does not miss living in Australia:
The four seasons in Australia consist of "Fuck it's hot", "Can you believe how fucking hot it is?", "I won't be in today because it is too fucking hot", and "Yes, the dinner-plate-size spiders come inside to escape from the heat. That is a fucking whopper though." I hate spiders. If I am reincarnated as a spider, I will bite myself and not seek medical assistance. I have actually only seen one in the entire time I have been in the US and it was the size of a well sucked on m&m. I flicked it into the sink. In Australia, the presence of a spider involves combat gear and improvised weapons.
We're all fairly familiar with the concept of trolling right? The author of this blog-turned-book is basically a troll who publishes his internet interactions with friends, co-workers and anonymous strangers on his site/blog (27bslash6). The thing about the book is that it's funny and entertaining enough at first. But the more you read, the more you start to get the sense that the humor isn't clever or anything above the ordinary - the trolling consists mainly of making fun of people on the internet. Which, ok, let's admit, people say and do dumb stuff online and it can be interesting for a minute or two to see them put in their places. But a whole book? At some point it just becomes easy mockery of people who aren't really even fighting back. And if it were "real life" I'd want nothing to do with it. I've heard people go back and forth on whether or not the site is even real and whether or not the conversations that the author posts are real, but in the end I don't really care. It's just not that funny. And I found the humor to be crass and offensive.
It's a do not recommend. It's not that I don't have a sense of humor about the internet, it's that I don't think the humor in The Internet is A Playground is clever or particularly funny. If you feel like you really need to read a humorous blog-to-book with hilarious cartoons, try The Oatmeal's 5 Very Good Reasons to Punch A Dolphin In The Mouth.
Somehow, in the hundreds of thousands of hours I've spent mindlessly procrastinating on the internet, I never came across 27bslash6. When I read the synopsis for The Internet is a Playground, the antics of David Thorne were totally new to me and I was intrigued. Paying a doctor with a drawing of a spider? It seemed just the right level of random and slightly insane that my sense of humor seems to gravitate towards.
In his emails, Thorne manages to walk the obnoxious without ever having to resort to rudeness. It's hard to believe these people continue to reply to him. The book is full of articles and emails from his website, but the best are the emails with pictures, either along the same lines as the spider or where people ask him to create something for them but give him way too much room to interpret their directions. Another favorite is a email conversation between Thorne and a hate mailer beginning with "I have read your website and it is obviously that your a foggot."
Those who believe that adults should act as such and take life seriously will find Thorne and The Internet is a Playground offensive. Most, I think, will wish they'd found him and his website sooner. Seriously funny on a hard to describe level, you'll either "get" David Thorne and his book - or you just won't. In my case, The Internet is a Playground caused out of control laughter and caused people to look at me funny.
Parts of it were truly, amazingly funny, but other parts came across as needlessly cruel, if not outright dickish.
For example, mocking the guy who e-mails you and calls you a douche is fair play. Have at him. But browbeating your kid's teacher until she backs off the punishment she gave your kid because he broke the rules.... it's just not the same thing.
The funny parts were truly funny though. Good humor with a strong tinge of the ridiculous. Very much to my taste.
David Thorne is impossible to critique. I suspect you will either love him or hate him as I don’t see a lot of middle ground. This is a collection of his musings on his website noted below.
This book reads like the diary of a bi-polar satirist. Thorne appears to do all the things that we often wish we had to courage to do. He responds to inanity with insanity. I suspect that hospitalization may have been necessary for some of the recipients of his brand of humor.
The most widely distributed example of his humor is the series of emails in which he attempted to pay his chiropractor with a picture he drew of a spider. Writing this on Easter, I found his revelations to the school chaplain regarding his son’s attendance at an Easter program most amusing.
This is not a book for the faint of heart. If you don’t have a satirical sense of humor you may be put off by David Thorne. I found him hysterical.
I discovered that David Thorne had a book around the same time that I had discovered that reading the phrase "cactus with a hat" inspired mild asphyxiation in me. The specific article that lost me a good hour was "Missing Missy," and for some reason the idea of having that in book form sounded just dandy.
For starters, the table of contents amuses me endlessly. Be warned, however, that for many, this book will annoy your spouse. If your sense of humor does not overlap with your spouse's in the vein of absurdity and very, very dry sarcasm, this book may weigh heavy on any time spent in the same room reading.
It will also annoy your significant other(s) if it causes you the same side-effects as it has caused me. I laughed until I had to close the book because merely looking at a single sentence in particular chapters made me absurdly giddy. This happened with such frequency and reliability that it could be counted to approximately 30 second intervals.
Also, the checkbox on the review textarea in goodreads that says "hide entire review because of spoilers" was misinterpreted by my brain as "hide entire review because of spiders."
This, so far, has been the best recent book investment for my "getting brain off of thinking" crusade that helps me actually achieve restful sleep. Being slightly OCD, I need something absurd and yet intelligent to help me retract from the world in the evenings. This achieves the needed result quite well.
The writer is humorous in parts, but comes across as mean and selfish in others. If I was actually the recipient of any of his emails I would be annoyed and just ignored him (there is a reason for the Delete button) It starts of well, but the parts where he badger’s his son’s teacher just put me off. In some places the recipients did deserve what they got but in others it isn’t right to troll someone for just doing their job. So I would say a mixed bag therefore 2 stars.
I got this as an ARC, and I thought, "Hm, this might make a fun bathroom book." After about thirty seconds reading, I was hooked. I carried it around with me and read it every time I had a free second. It only lasted a couple of days, but they were a hilarious couple of days. My favorite piece is definitely about Missy's Lost cat. I giggle just thinking about it.
I had visited David Thorne's blog and had been a fan of several of his more popular humorous email exchanges, but having to read a whole book by him made realize how old this schtick gets after only a short while. His email exchanges with various people, including his own internet trolls, are usually pretty entertaining, but the book is interspersed with characters/coworkers/people he wants to make fun of discussing things in essay format as though from their point of view that are often not as funny and generally mean-spirited. I've also never seen a writer use the word "retard" in this modern day and age quite as often as Thorne did. His persona is very male, often sexist, often homophobic, often mean-spirited, and gets old very quickly. Halfway through the book I wished I was already done reading it. I will probably always remember his Missing Missy cat poster with fondness, but I don't think I'll be reading any more of his books.
The above statement sums up my thoughts about this book. I did find myself having a smile here and there in the book, but overall it was dull and repetitive.
I did like the theme of the book, considering we all receive unwanted and weird mails everyday in our inbox. David's idea of engaging with these emails in his sarcastic and exaggerated manner is a hilarious idea on paper.
However, the execution falls flat and the jokes don't land most of the times, instead it only succeeds in making one cringe.
On the internet, it's not hard to find people that use the anonymity to be a contrarian, absurd, or just an asshole. What is rare to find someone who is so committed to being a smartass that they will place enough identifying information to attract anger (and lawsuits) to their real life. He does acknowledge some friends in the preface, although I can't imagine they really exist.
This book is a collection of material from the website 27b/6, from south Australian graphic designer David Thorne. It includes short blog-style postings, ridiculous photos and, most notably, a fantastic series of e-mail exchanges with all manner of people who he's pissed off.
The e-mail exchanges are the standouts of the book, and he became known internationally when he posted the an exchange from when tried to pay a bank debt with a (bad) spider drawing. He continues to have ridiculous exchanges with co-workers, apartment neighbors, and even with the lawyers trying to stop him. The "articles" are less amusing inherently, and often about people in his life (or at least modeled on them). Versus baiting a real correspondent, these articles just seem like elaborate "piss-takes" of his acquaintances. Although I'm sure they'd be hilarious if I knew these people, any humor now comes mainly from absurd imagery/text and the concept that he's actually mocking these peole out in the public space of the internet.
The book didn't seem mean-spirited to me, probably because of the absurdity of the situation as well as the fact that I don't know these people and assume he does. Or because I'm just a horrible person for laughing.
This book brings up the old question of Why Not Just Read It on the Internets?
What a great question, you jerk.
The success of David Thorne’s web site, www.27bslash6.com, got him a book deal. A complete book deal with pages, inks, cover, and so on. But part of the site’s success is that, working in graphic design, the web site is nicely formatted for computer viewing. Really it’s like reading an e-book where the intended format was a tiny screen. So why would one then take that e-book format and timewarp it into an analog book?
Well, because I don’t have the damn internet at home. Hence the above “jerk” comment.
The book is at its best in the email strings between David and his coworkers, local Blockbuster, and his son’s teacher. Like a sort of email Jerky Boy, he strings them along and the joke becomes the fact that someone would continue to correspond as long as they do. How much does someone have to tell you about the motion picture Water World before you, as a Blockbuster employee, feel that you’ve done your due diligence and let the dude rot in bad credit land? Apparently about one shitload.
The other postings vary. Some pretty great. Some great. Some pretty. Some none of those things.
An insight into the mind of someone who has plumbed the depths of despair with the stupidity of a certain segment of humanity. Someone who has had one brush too many with the blunt instruments that are the rules and regulations imposed upon us by various authorities, to save us from exercising our own common sense and judgment.
There can be too much of a good thing - like when you check out the entire season of some TV series you've been dying to see and then realize that watching ONE episode a week is ok, but watching 25 in a row will rot your brain. So, yes, this book is like that. I think I could handle one chapter once in awhile, but taken all together it's overwhelmingly...negative. Poking sticks at stupid assholes is all well and good, and provides some entertainment, but after awhile it just makes you hate people in general (and assholes in particular). I am now going to break my stick off in YOUR EYE. Anyway. My favorite bit is still the email correspondence between David Thorne and the administrative assistant - where she asks him to design a poster to advertise her lost cat. It is the ne plus ultra. I could take or leave the rest, though, other parts did make me giggle. I skipped a lot of the character profiles, because, eh. Read this one in small chunks and you'll be more appreciative of its finer qualities.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
I remember the foggot stuff from a link on a message board I frequent. So funny. I had no idea this guy had a website, so thanks, Internets, for giving me someone else's brilliance to admire. Because now I want to read more and learn from this master. If only I could learn to reply to invitations I didn't receive, hear questions that weren't asked and offer barter art when money is requested. Oh, to have his email jujitsu skills! What a world it would be!
Well, I salute you, Evil Online Genius David Thorne. You are one funny Adelaidian. Internetian. Photoshopperistican. Rock on.
I giggled. I chortled. I laughed. I may have snorted. Perhaps reading this in a public place wasn't my best plan. I just had no clue how funny and precocious this little treasure was going to be. The back and forth of emails and how silly it can get because it is an abnormal and abstract form of communication, but as we evolve, so must we disenchant ourselves with historic means and move along another path, one supposes. I am chuckling now just thinking about this book. Thank you for being such a goof, sir.
One of the most influential literary works of our time! THE INTERNET IS A PLAYGROUND is a dazzling and original achievement by the masterful David Thorne. This is the first piece of literature since the Book of Genesis that should be required reading for the entire human race....David Thorne has done nothing less than to create in the reader a sense of all that is profound, meaningful, and meaningless in life.