Friday, 23 October 2009

Complete Prose by Woody Allen

This collection of Woody Allen's prose consists of three books: Without Feathers, Getting Even and Side Effects. If ever a collection of words made me laugh out loud (or, more accurately, guffaw) it's this. Allen's prose sometimes reads like lots of one-liners strung together, sometimes farcical and sometimes outrageous, sometimes insightful and mostly absurd; but always hilarious. He has a real knack for characters (as we know from his films) and highlights with ease the absurdity of people, institutions and situations. With over 50 short stories brought together in this volume, it's difficult to choose a favourite. If the Impressionists Had Been Dentists (which you can read here if you're interested) was up there, but the detective story with God as the missing person was a classic, as was the Chess by correspondence, or Hitler's hairdresser's journal. Allen cracks his satirical whip over many aspects of society with such sharp wit and decadence you actually feel fuelled by his words - or at least I did. The extent of his absurdism (which I understand is quite Groucho Marx-esque, although I have never read any of Groucho's work) is such that, while laughing hysterically you are simultaneously a little outraged by the clarity that the ridiculousness unveils… or perhaps it was meant to be read a little lighter than that and I just got carried away, hehe.

In any case, an excellent read, probably something normal readers would enjoy picking up, reading a chapter of and putting down again every so often - although I've never been good at that (plus it was a library loan). I'm such a ridiculously straight reader; I have to read each page in succession until the end! If you're a Groucho fan, or an Allen fan, or an absurdism fan - definitely pick this one up.

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