Some time back I picked up a couple of slim paperbacks called TWISTED TALES BY SHAKESPEARE and ENGLISH LIT RELIT. I loved how Armour skewered the lofty ideas and even loftier prose. He brought it all down to earth, but amazingly, at the same time, swung open that back door to understanding that some of us just… need. The parodies and satires were as laser-guided poniards, poking holes in bloated balloons of intellectual pretense. Yep, I really dig that.
I understand jokes. I have since I was a kid. I learned about people and life’s many hypocrisies from MAD magazine. Because I understood the joke, I understood the idea they were making fun of. Or maybe it was the other way around…
So I got on WWW.HALF.COM and looked for more books by this Armour dude. Damn. First of all, my two books were written in the 60s and reprinted in the 70s. Looking up more of his books took me back in time. I managed to get hold of THE CLASSICS RECLASSIFIED — in hardcover no less! from www.eBay.com and last week, I ordered PUNCTURED POEMS and IT ALL STARTED WITH NUDES. They are old. But that’s cool. I like old books. Reminds me of my parents’ closet.
PUNCTURED POEMS is quite amusing. The annotations at the bottom of the page are usually funnier than the poem parody itself. It’s a good book to have in the bathroom (if your habits run to that sort of thing) because it’s a couplet, an illustration and the funnier annotation at the bottom. And the illustrations are quite good too — very New Yorker-ish, with spare lines and wonderfully comic expressions. Cambell Grant illustrated NUDES, and Eric Gurney illustrated PUNCTURED POEMS.
I have the in the living room because they are good books to have when I feel like reading AND watching TV. They’re cleverly written, the humor satisfies in a big way, cute illustrations, and the reason they are good for multi-tasking — when you look at a page, you can take in most of what it says at a glance.