Something less than short stories, something more than mere jokes, the pieces collected in this volume (most of them first published in the New Yorker ) poke fun at all kinds of cultural pretensions, both highbrow and lowbrow. Among the offerings: a musicological essay that extracts preposterous biographical information from an old telephone bill of Stravinsky's; a literary history of the "age of Niven" that analyzes books by movie actors; and a page from Mrs. Solzhenitsyn's daybook that records such big events as taking Al's old Siberia clothes to the Fire Department rummage sale. Frazier's humor is reminiscent of fellow New Yorker contributor Donald Barthelme's, but is generally less philosophical and more slapstick. It's intellectual, but it's also pretty dumb.
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