Remember Laughter: A Life of James Thurber

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One of the great American humorists of this century, James Thurber is still read and cherished by many readers more than thirty years after his death. He is most famous for the hilarious, often bittersweet stories that he published in the 1930s and 1940s in the New Yorker. He was also a brilliant cartoonist whose unique drawings were an eagerly awaited feature in Harold Ross’s New Yorker and in Thurber’s books.

This biography is a book much in the spirit of Thurber himself....

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Overview

One of the great American humorists of this century, James Thurber is still read and cherished by many readers more than thirty years after his death. He is most famous for the hilarious, often bittersweet stories that he published in the 1930s and 1940s in the New Yorker. He was also a brilliant cartoonist whose unique drawings were an eagerly awaited feature in Harold Ross’s New Yorker and in Thurber’s books.

This biography is a book much in the spirit of Thurber himself. Readable, anecdotal, and often delightfully funny, Remember Laughter will be cherished by all fans of Thurber.

Yet Neil A. Grauer by no means sentimentalizes Thurber. He addresses serious, and often disturbing, features of Thurber’s life while highlighting Thurber’s courage, inexhaustible humor, and unique literary and artistic talents. The result is a biography that both celebrates Thurber’s genius and shrewdly appraises his qualities as a man.

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Editorial Reviews

Hugh Kenner
“A uniquely sparkling book.”—Hugh Kenner
James J. Kilpatrick
“Biography at its best. Neil Grauer paints Thurber as Lely painted Cromwell, pimples, warts, and all, and gives us a portrait to remember.”—James J. Kilpatrick
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The great humorist admired-as he exemplified in his work-brevity and concision. So he would certainly have approved of the modest dimensions of this study of himself. In an age of overdetailed biographies, this book says just what needs to be said, then stops. Grauer, a former newspaper cartoonist and reporter, writes smoothly and entertainingly, and with a keen sense of what makes Thurber (1894-1961) so endearingly funny. His quotes are apt, his anecdotes neatly told, and he even gives us a handful of the classic cartoons. Grauer is also fair, presenting an unvarnished picture of Thurber's bitter last years when, perhaps aware that his gifts were waning, the blind writer boasted vainly of his former triumphs, antagonized such old friends as E.B. White and Roger Angell and threw his eyeglasses at the wall. These days it is easy to be overcritical of Thurber's misogyny and occasional resort to racial humor; still, as Grauer notes, his increasing misanthropy was often prescient, and he remained, in all his inconsistencies, steadfast in two beliefs: in the superiority of animals to humankind, and his dread of technology. Photos not seen by PW. (Nov.)
Library Journal
There are certain literary men and women of whom even the slenderest recollection of anecdote fascinates; the famed humorist of The New Yorker was one. Freelance journalist Grauer tells Thurber's story lucidly and sympathetically, without trying to conceal the awkward places in his character-his battle with the bottle, fits of depression, and problems with women. Recognizing how deeply Thurber's life work was molded by his personal experience, Grauer supplies an extended and valuable study of his early environment and the major developments in his maturity that affected his writings, including the devastating effect blindness had on him. Twelve of Thurber's most famous cartoons are included. This is excellent and lively reading, augmenting well Thurber collections. [The 100th anniversary of Thurber's birth is December 8.-Ed.]-A.J. Anderson, GSLIS, Simmons Coll., Boston
From Barnes & Noble
This anecdotal biography of the great American humorist who authored hilarious, often bittersweet stories and cartoons examines Thurber's genius as well as such disturbing features of his life as his failed marriage, alcohol abuse, and going blind at the height of his success. A readable, anecdotal, and often delightfully funny account. B&W photos & illustrations.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803270565
  • Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
  • Publication date: 8/28/1995
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 226
  • Product dimensions: 5.95 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.73 (d)

Meet the Author

Neil A. Grauer is a freelance journalist and a former reporter and cartoonist for the Baltimore News-American. He has published four books, including Wits and Sages, a collection of profiles and caricatures of various syndicated columnists. Grauer is also a writer for Vanguard Communications in Washington, D.C.
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