Tung's Reviews > Mere Anarchy
by Woody Allen
by Woody Allen
Imagine being in an elevator with Woody Allen for three minutes, and he tells you a funny anecdote about buying a pair of pants. You’d find him witty and hysterical and you’d laugh out loud as you walk out of the elevator. OK, now imagine instead of three minutes it’s three days in an elevator with Woody Allen, who doesn’t stop talking for three whole days, and in those three days, he’s still talking about just buying pants. At some point, you’d probably turn to him and say “Enough with the pants already!” no matter how witty he is being. That is what reading Mere Anarchy is like. Allegedly a book of short stories, the book is more a series of creative writing exercises stretched into stories; or like a long series of related witticisms that Allen decided was close enough to a story. For example, in one story (“This Nib for Hire”) a writer is hired to pen the novelization of a Three Stooges movie. I’m 100% convinced that Allen was watching a Three Stooges movie one day, thought in his head how clever it would be to draft a high literature paragraph based on the on-screen action, wrote out a dozen sentences of said paragraph, and then added four pages of fluff in front of it to justify a short story out of a single witticism. That is what all 18 stories in this collection are like. There are a few standout selections in here where Allen kept the story tightly short and the witticisms are sufficiently enjoyable (the only ones I liked were “Strung Out” and “Thus Ate Zarathustra”). And while there are plenty of phrases and sentences that are wildly clever and inventive and funny, trudging through the rest of the story to get to those lines was really not worth it for me. The stories often tended to peter out at the end, as if after getting to the witticism that the story was based around, Allen just wanted to wrap up the story and be done with it. Well, after three or four stories into it, I felt the same way. Unfortunately, this one is a pass for me.
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