I Shudder: And Other Reactions to Life, Death, and New Jersey

( 8 )

Overview

From his classic plays and screenplays to his sidesplitting pieces for The New Yorker and Premiere, Paul Rudnick is one of our most adored humor writers. Now, in this long overdue collection, he casts his gleefully wicked eye on the world as he sees it: a landscape of stylish dowagers, irascible producers, and full-tilt eccentrics.

From living in a series of increasingly bizarre, altogether fabulous New York City apartments to cavorting with a cast of colorful artists and ...

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I Shudder

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Overview

From his classic plays and screenplays to his sidesplitting pieces for The New Yorker and Premiere, Paul Rudnick is one of our most adored humor writers. Now, in this long overdue collection, he casts his gleefully wicked eye on the world as he sees it: a landscape of stylish dowagers, irascible producers, and full-tilt eccentrics.

From living in a series of increasingly bizarre, altogether fabulous New York City apartments to cavorting with a cast of colorful artists and endearingly perplexing show business personalities who have to be read to be believed, to handling the finer points of putting up with his wonderfully outlandish but lovable family, Rudnick triumphs with I Shudder—a raucously funny collection from one of America's true comedic treasures.

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Editorial Reviews

Steve Martin
“I Shudder is filled with deeply funny musings and adventures that elevate Paul Rudnick to the highest level of American comedy writing.It should be noted that I would be at the highest level of American comedy writing if I had had Paul’s early advantages.”
David Sedaris
“Paul Rudnick is a champion of truth (and love and great wicked humor) whom we ignore at our peril. There’s no book wiser or half as funny as I Shudder.”
People Magazine
"A hilarious, often touching hodgepodge. . . . It’s the literary equivalent of the tchotchke, at least as [Paul Rudnick] defines it: ‘Something peculiar which you don’t need, and which has no discernible purpose or value, but which you can’t live without.’" (Four out of four stars)
People
“A hilarious, often touching hodgepodge. . . . It’s the literary equivalent of the tchotchke, at least as [Paul Rudnick] defines it: ‘Something peculiar which you don’t need, and which has no discernible purpose or value, but which you can’t live without.’” (Four out of four stars)
New York Times Book Review
“Uproariously self-deprecating essays about being gay and Jewish in suburban New Jersey and downtown Manhattan...The vignettes that give the book its title offer...irresistible screeds against the indignities of modern urban life.”
Entertainment Weekly
“The witty, sardonic playwright (Jeffrey) and screenwriter (In & Out, Addams Family Values) delivers an acerbic and entertaining memoir about his experiences as a child in New Jersey and an adult in showbiz.”
Asbury Park Press
“A laugh-out-loud pleasure to read...[Rudnick] writes with glee and unjudgmental warmth about the bohemian people and places of late 1970s and ‘80s.”
People
“A hilarious, often touching hodgepodge. . . . It’s the literary equivalent of the tchotchke, at least as [Paul Rudnick] defines it: ‘Something peculiar which you don’t need, and which has no discernible purpose or value, but which you can’t live without.’” (Four out of four stars)
Daily News
“[A] smart, dishy and very funny essay collection.”
Newsday
“[A] lovable and astute collection of humor pieces...breezy and giddy with zingers, all handcrafted to make their good-natured defiance seem easy...[a] deceptively sweet and droll collection.”
Modern Tonic
“Piscataway, N.J. and Hollywood don’t usually have much in common, but writer Paul Rudnick finds absurdity in both.”
New York Times
“Uproariously self-deprecating essays of a gay, Jewish life in Manhattan, Hollywood and suburbia.” (Editor’s Choice)
Michael Lindgren
Rudnick is a likable and accomplished raconteur who never loses sight of his own absurdity in I Shudder…only the most sour and jaded reader will be able to resist him.
—The Washington Post
Alida Becker
…[a] collection of uproariously self-deprecating essays about being gay and Jewish in suburban New Jersey and downtown Manhattan, and about his career as a playwright and script doctor in Hollywood and on Broadway…Rudnick is in firm control of a hilariously large-scale personality.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
Best known for his hilarious stage and screen plays, Paul Rudnick courageously takes on a David Sedaris style of memoir with this collection of essays. Rudnick offers a hilarious romp through the many components of his life: from the sweet tooth that landed him in child therapy to his debut Broadway play, I Hate Hamlet—and everything in between. Rudnick's humor comes from his ability to buoyantly portray the “large-scale personalities” that fill his life, including his Jewish aunts, a neurotic agent and a flamboyant costume-designer friend. With such a cast of characters in his own life, it's no wonder Rudnick developed the comical genius within his hit screenplays: The Addams Family, Sister Act and In & Out. Yet in these essays, Rudnick never sacrifices honesty for humor. Rather—as the title suggests—he tastefully incorporates humor into real-life issues, such as his father's death and his friend's struggles with AIDS. In addition to Rudnick's personal essay, he offers the narrative of Elyot Vionnet—Rudnick's alter ego of sorts—whose crude insights are woven throughout the book in the form of journal entries paired with absurd events. Elyot Vionnet is a compilation of Rudnick's friends and family—plus a truly New York sense of entitlement. (Sept.)
Library Journal
Rudnick, a celebrated playwright, screenwriter, and novelist who also writes regularly for The New Yorker, was born in Piscataway, NJ, and now lives in New York City. His new book is chaotic and head spinning as it opens inside the confining space of his first 10' × 15' studio apartment in New York—he, his parents, and two of his aunts discuss everything from toilet brushes to bugs in fast and scattershot discourse. In this first chapter, Rudnick succeeds in introducing and enveloping the reader in his life and family and sets the pace for the remainder of the essays, which run the gamut of Rudnick's experiences, from collaborating with Disney executives in developing his Sister Act script to working as a janitor for a summer cabaret. These are punctuated by diary excerpts from Elyot Vionnet, an especially sassy and (one assumes) fictional New Yorker who muses on life in the city. VERDICT Rudnick's outlandish stories, witty oration, and seemingly impossible characters will appeal to fans of Josh Kilmer-Purcell, David Sedaris, and Augusten Burroughs.—Mark Alan Williams, Library of Congress, Washington, DC
Kirkus Reviews
Scenarist Rudnick (I'll Take It, 1989, etc.) presents 15 humorous pieces. The author, a celebrated screenwriter, playwright and columnist, delivers a collection of autobiographical essays sure to please fans of David Sedaris and Jonathan Ames, though his work is not as convulsively funny as the former or scandalously titillating as the latter. Rudnick is a master of the breezy quip and projects a refreshingly modest restraint, avoiding the sometimes cloying navel-gazing common to the genre; the author's role in his stories is more of a spectator than a central character. Rudnick writes about his family and career, dishing behind-the scenes dirt (albeit pretty mild dirt) from productions of films including Sister Act (1992), The First Wives Club (1996) and In & Out (1997). There is no mention of the disastrous remake of The Stepford Wives (2004), which is understandable but disappointing. The author's profiles of outsize showbiz types like producer Allan Carr and mercurial British actor Nicol Williamson are vivid and droll. The concluding piece, a remembrance of his friends at the infamous Chelsea Hotel at the height of its squalid glamour, is a sweetly affecting portrait of a vanished bohemian New York City. A look back at the early days of the AIDS crisis is similarly moving. The funniest essays are excerpts from the fictional diary of one Elyot Vionnet, a fussy older gentleman whose horror over the insipidness and vulgarities of modern life repeatedly leads to comically satisfying bloodshed and chaos. Rudnick's gift for the skewed first-person narrative will be familiar to fans of his "Libby Gelman-Waxner" columns from Premiere magazine. Vionnet is an equally rich and amusing character,and a book-length volume of his memoirs would be a treat. A witty, satisfying collection of American humor.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061780196
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 11/16/2010
  • Pages: 318
  • Sales rank: 1,056,462
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Playwright, screenwriter, and novelist Paul Rudnick's celebrated works include the plays I Hate Hamlet and Jeffrey, and the screenplays In & Out and Addams Family Values. He also writes regularly for The New Yorker. Born in Piscataway, New Jersey, he now lives in New York City.

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Table of Contents

Author's Note ix

The Sisters 1

Lordy 31

I Shudder: Hallie Tesler 49

Hewen and Schifty 61

Sixty Seconds 79

I Shudder: Yumbies 91

Good Enough to Eat 101

Enter Trembling 111

I Shudder: Intimacy-Why? 133

In Pieces 157

I Hit Hamlet 171

I Shudder: Good and Evil 187

Life and Death and New Jersey 211

I Shudder: Mr. Christmas 245

At the Chelsea Hotel 279

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 8 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 9 of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 24, 2012

    Liz

    Smiles. And slides her tounge in ur mouth.

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    Posted November 24, 2012

    Kyle

    He grins slightly and he plays with your tounge with his

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