Funny

Overview

A tour de force, Funny is a masterpiece of poetic, as well as philosophic and comic, invention. It creates a musing world, where the issues are philosophical but the focus is always on people, on our most private ways of balancing our accounts. The poems are psychological; tender and humane, and somehow ruthless. This is poetry that swarms with ideas, that revels in rhythmic intricacy and literary references, but is also clear as a bell, and tells marvelous stories.

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Overview

A tour de force, Funny is a masterpiece of poetic, as well as philosophic and comic, invention. It creates a musing world, where the issues are philosophical but the focus is always on people, on our most private ways of balancing our accounts. The poems are psychological; tender and humane, and somehow ruthless. This is poetry that swarms with ideas, that revels in rhythmic intricacy and literary references, but is also clear as a bell, and tells marvelous stories.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Hecht's sophomore effort is one of the most entertaining, and most original, books of the year. Its conceit, barring a few introductory sonnets, is to riff on jokes-become-aphorisms, dismantling assumptions as quickly as she dishes punch lines. "What did the sadist do to the masochist?/ Nothing" generates a brisk, hyperintelligent lyric about the ideas of need and mastery, studded by frequent half-rhymes and internal rhymes. "How many gorillas does it take/ to screw in a lightbulb?" prompts three pages of subtle, wise meditation on human evolution and human error. "Are You Not Glad?" turns a knock-knock joke into smart couplets about regret and love: "Orange you glad? No, I'm not. I ate the berries./ I was hungry. I was young." Switching deftly between the caricatured protagonists of the jokes themselves and more nuanced memories from real lives, Hecht sees how many jokes depend on familiarity and surprise, and how many highlight the disappointments ordinary experience can provide: "One way or another we all become/ the other." The New York-based Hecht (The Next Ancient World), who also writes books of popular philosophy (Doubt: A History), appends a neat 11-page prose essay about the relations between jokes and poems: even without the essay, this book brings the two forms tantalizingly close. (Dec.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780299214043
  • Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press
  • Publication date: 11/18/2005
  • Series: WISC Pollak Prize In Poetry Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 100
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Jennifer Michael Hecht is a historian who has published several scholarly volumes and one previous collection of poetry. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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Table of Contents

Sonnet on mirth 3
One end of an orange cat 7
Hat trick 10
Blind love 13
Gorilla in a darkening room 14
The sound of those drums 17
Betty 19
Family life 20
Funny ha ha 25
Prosody on comedy 29
Horse makes a decision 33
Song of innocence and experience 37
The propagation of the species 38
Are you not glad? 42
Switch 43
Cannibal Villanelle 45
Parrot in the cold 46
Fear of flying 49
Funny strange 50
Sonnet on the ribs of laughter 53
A little Mumba 57
Three boats, one afternoon 61
Chicken pig 64
Love explained 66
Story of my life 68
Naked man in the window 69
Catch 71
Lifesavers 72
Cycling down 74
Afterword : an essay on the philosophy of funny 77
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