29 November 2010

Woody Allen, Mere Anarchy, 2007

Picked up on a whim, I was rather impressed with this collection of shorts, mostly because it was a discovery that the Woody Allen you read in print bears little if any resemblance to the Woody Allen you see on the big screen, or even the Woody Allen who used to do stand-up. It’s still absurd neurotic comedy, intellectually engaging and (often very) linguistically dense, and throughout he adopts the style of his feuilletoniste literary hero S.J. Perelman who preceded him as a humourous writer for The New Yorker, where most of these pieces first appeared. He has his moments: some stories are well thought out if too briefly explored to do them justice and might even benefit from being longer; some are even science fictional, the cleverest by far being ‘Strung Out’, if you can overcome Allen’s tendencies towards female objectification. As this is his first collection of short fiction for more than a quarter of a century it would be interesting to see how it compares with one of his previous collections, but as Allen seems so immersed in the feuilleton style I suspect this must be something of a continuation.  PY


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