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". . . had difficulty plowing through Allen’s literary references and complicated metaphors."
A wait for my hair appointment seemed like a perfect opportunity to finish reading Woody Allen’s Mere Anarchy his collection of short essays and stories. As I slipped into sleep, I entered into a weird, mind-numbing journey through wacky Woody’s world of neurotic and unstable characters with peculiar names, tangled up in sublime, ridiculous, and unbelievable life situations.
In “Tandoori Ransom” Pontius Perry, an agent, finds “boychick”—an actor who clears tables at “Taco-Pox”—an acting job in India where the actor is mistaken for the lead actor, Harvy Afflatus. “Boychick” is kidnapped by “a wild-eyed bandit with twirling jet-black mustache and the psychotic intensity of Eduardo Ciannelli in Gunga Din.” Producer Hal Roachpaste refuses to pay the ransom.
In “To Err is Human—to Float Divine” Endorphine learns at the Sublime Ascension Center how to “sway over nature a la Faust.” And in “This Nib for Hire,” E.Coli Biggs, a film producer, recruits Flanders Mealworm to novelize the classic movie of the Three Stooges.
Allen also takes common life situations and exaggerates the story into manic and dark humor. In “The Rejection,” Boris Ivanovich and his wife are shunned by friends and kicked out of restaurants because their three-year-old failed to get into “the very best nursery school in Manhattan.” The parents succumb to payoffs, insider trading, and even sell their historic home to get another interview for their son, Mischa.
Admittedly, I had difficulty plowing through Allen’s literary references and complicated metaphors. In “On a Bad Day You Can See Forever,” a story about a building contractor who financially ruins the homeowners, Allen writes; “I also have some dim recall of being before a judge who sat glowering like an El Greco cardinal as he mulcted me to the tune of many zeros, causing my net worth to disappear like the lox at a bris.”
Allen, a comic, prolific writer and three-time academy award winner, is no doubt brilliant. But his humor and literary genius is best savored by pop culture artists with a storehouse of literary information about literature, philosophy, and psychology rather than by those who shake their head in confusion while conducting web searches to get a glimpse into Allen’s bizarre and quirky collection of writing in this book.
Reviewer: Kate Padilla