Free-Range Chickens by Simon Rich
When I came home last week for my last spring break FOREVER there was a library copy of this slim book sitting on my family’s kitchen table. I thought, for certain reasons, that it was taken out on my behalf, so I read it. It was actually taken out on my mother’s behalf, who was reading it for some sort of library workshop on “genre” books as an exemplary piece of contemporary humor writing. What’s miraculous about that, and what burns me with jealous rage, is that Rich was 24 or so when this was published, and it’s his second published book! Damn it! I want that.
Which leads me to my next point— RECOMMEND THIS BLOG so some BIG IMPORTANT PUBLISHING PEOPLE WILL NOTICE ME and give me a STUFF ON MY CAT-STYLE BOOK DEAL. (Select it for “Books,” and I think you need to follow me on tumblr to do so, so get to it!)
Anyway, I first encountered Simon Rich’s writing through a tiny exchange of existential dialogue between two dalmatians in the New Yorker, which reads as follows:
“Hey, look, the truck’s stopping.”
“Did they take us to the park this time?”
“No—it’s a fire. Another horrible fire.”
“What the hell is wrong with these people?”
I must have forwarded that to a bajillion people, give or take. Free-Range Chickens is more of the same; the book takes about 45 minutes to read, tops, and evokes the funniest chapters of Woody Allen’s Without Feathers or George Carlin’s Napalm and Silly Putty: the endless pages of terse, perfect wit.