Fran Lebowitz is the undisputed queen of the one-liners. She’s not a prolific writer, but has been widely quoted from her first two books, Metropolitan Life (1978) and Social Studies (1981), and faithful fans adore Lebowitz’ sardonic commentary on America and its many quirks.
Fran Lebowitz' New York City sensibility has been called "urban cool" by scores of reviewers, and while she definitely embodies the sarcastic and the bitter, she makes us laugh throughout. Lebowitz floated between odd jobs before breaking into the literary circuit in the early 1970s, when Andy Warhol hired her as a columnist for his Interview magazine. Nearly overnight, Lebowitz became known as a sharp-witted, irreverent humorist, and she added magazines such as Mademoiselle to her resume.
In 1978, Lebowitz collected a series of essays and released Metropolitan Life. Hilarious and luxuriously dry, Lebowitz' cynical outlook on the oddities of New York City during the 1970s included observations on human nature ("Humility is no substitute for a good personality") to her ongoing struggle with writers block ("Contrary to what many of you might imagine, a career in letters is not without its drawback -- chief among them is the unpleasant fact that one is frequently called upon to sit down and write"). Metropolitan Life quickly became a New York Times bestseller because of its ability to speak to readers in middle-America as much as those in New York City.
Her second collection of essays, Social Studies (1981) delivers more of the same sardonic humor, with her fearless approach to exposing human weaknesses. Another New York Times bestseller, readers are treated to the bittersweet doses of reality they know and love, such as "Remember that as a teenager you are at the last stage of your life when you will be happy to hear that the phone is for you."
For more than 20 years, Lebowitz fans waited for random columns or interviews to get their fix of her classic one-liners. In 1994, The Fran Lebowitz Reader was released, combining all of her essays from Metropolitan Life and Social Studies into one riotous, cohesive publication. Reading Lebowitz in the 1990s, many of the essays, with titles like "Success Without College" and "When Smoke Gets In Your Eyes...Shut Them," still delivered the big laughs, proving that her deflating humor was still viable decades after they were originally published.
Lebowitz also published a children's book in 1994, Mr. Chas and Lisa Sue Meet the Pandas, about the treasures to be found in the secret passageways of a New York City apartment building. It appeared on the Publishers Weekly juvenile bestseller list.
Like Dorothy Parker of Algonquin Round Table fame, Lebowitz is best known for her lightning-fast, scathing comebacks. Her sophisticated pessimism and all-too-human humor make her a joy to read, whether it's done all in one sitting or one essay at a time.
Good To Know
Lebowitz worked many odd jobs -- including bartender and taxi driver -- before being discovered by Laurie Colwin at Dutton.