Give me books, fruit, french wine and fine weather and a little music out of doors. --John Keats

Friday, September 24, 2010

"Free-Range Chickens" by Simon Rich

Sometimes a book isn't what you expect and that is not a good thing. I bought this book because I was seduced by the price (a dollar for a hardback!), and I liked the cover, and I like chickens. I chose to read it next because it was short (129 pages!) and claimed to be funny.

I promise I really did read the cover copy before buying it, and although I'm sure I didn't pee my pants over it, what I read was at least chuckle-worthy. But evidently the price tag prevented me from flipping through and glancing at random excerpts the way I normally would before buying a book. I had expected one funny story, or possibly even unrelated but cohesive chapters, but instead it is basically just a joke book.

The text is divided into several categories, but there is no flow within those categories. It's like Short Attention Span Theater. I'm guessing the title refers to how scattered these unrelated thoughts are.

I wonder, had I not already read in the author bio that Simon Rich writes for Saturday Night Live, would I have been able to guess? Most of these bits read like skits that were either too short or not funny enough to make it onto the show. A show which I stopped watching years ago because it wasn't consistently entertaining. If only one or two skits are funny out of the entire show, it's too much of a gamble--a waste of time.

Don't let me give you the idea that the book isn't at all funny. Rich takes everyday circumstances and twists them so that the absurd or ridiculous is visible. I never did roll in the floor, and probably didn't even literally laugh out loud, but the book was at least humorous enough to bring a smile to my face.

I have to wonder how much more I might have appreciated this book if I had been prepared for what it really was. But I know what I do appreciate--someone has already requested it on paperbackswap.


Anonymous said...

The price tag would have made me suspicious straight away! lol

At least it was only a dollar, if I had a dollar for every crummy book i've bought and regretted it I would be able to retire!

Coffee and a Book Chick said...

Hmm. Doesn't sound like this is one I would be interested in either. From the title, I had an impression that it would be about this industry, sort of like a Food Inc., you know?

Kathy said...

See, Chris, if I were smart a $1 book would cause doubt rather than excitement. Oh well, I do think it was worth $1. I enjoyed it more than a pack of gum.

Yeah, Natalie, the title (and even the cover art) does kind of give that impression--although I haven't read Food Inc., have you?