The Thurber Carnival
Publication Date: November 2013
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James Thurber was one of the finest humorists of the twentieth century (and a crack cartoonist to boot). A bestseller upon its initial publication in 1945, The Thurber Carnival captures the depth of his talent and the breadth of his wit. The stories compiled here, almost all of which first appeared in The New Yorker, are from his uproarious and candid collection My World and Welcome to It including the American classic "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" as well as from The Owl in the Attic, The Seal in the Bathroom, and Men, Women and Dogs.
James Thurber was an American author and cartoonist best known for his illustrations and short stories published in The New Yorker magazine. Thurber attended Ohio State University, but never graduated as a result of his poor eyesight. In 1925, Thurber relocated to New York and became a reporter for the New York Evening Post. He joined the staff of The New Yorker in 1927 and began drawing cartoons in 1930. Thurber left The New Yorker in 1933 but continued to contribute regularly until 1950. Many of Thurber s famous short stories?such as The Dog that Bit People, The Night the Bird Fell, and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty have been compiled into anthologies, and his classic tale about the daydreaming everyman served as the inspiration for the 2013 film The Secret Life of Walter Mitty starring Ben Stiller and Kristen Wiig. Thurber passed away in 1961.
The editor of "More Mirth of a Nation: The Best Contemporary Humor, " Michael J. Rosen has been called the unofficial organizer of the National Humor Writer's Union, a pretty good idea for an organization that could offer all kinds of benefits to its struggling members (currently numbering more than 300 who have never been published in "The New Yorker" or aired on NPR). He has been called other things as well, like in third grade, and then in seventh grade especially, by certain older kids known as "hoods," who made his life miserable, specifically during gym class, lunch period and after school. Later, much later, the "Washington Post" called him a "fidosopher" because of his extensive publications on dogs, dog training, and dog-besotted people. The "New York Times" called him an example of creative philanthropy in their special "Giving" section for persuading "writers, artists, photographers and illustrators to contribute their time and talents to books" that benefit Share Our Strength's anti-hunger efforts and animal-welfare causes. As an author of a couple dozen books for children, he's been called...okay, enough with the calling business.
For nearly twenty years, he served as literary director at the Thurber House, a cultural center in the restored home of James Thurber. Garrison Keillor, bless his heart, called it (sorry) "the capital of American humor." While there, Rosen helped to create The Thurber Prize for American Humor, a national book award for humor writing, and edited four anthologies of Thurber's previously unpublished and uncollected work, most recently "The Dog Department: James Thurber on Hounds, Scotties" and "Talking Poodles, " happily published by HarperCollins as well.
In his capacity as editor for this biennial, Rosen reads manuscripts year round, beseeching and beleaguering the nation's most renowned and well-published authors, and fending off the rants and screeds from folks who've discovered the ease of self-publishing on the web. Last summer, Rosen edited a lovely book, "101 Damnations: The Humorists' Tour of Personal Hells;" while some critics (all right, one rather outspoken friend) considered this a book of complaints, Rosen has argued that humor, like voting and picketing and returning an appliance that "worked" all of four months before requiring a repair that costs twice the purchase price, humor is about the desire for change. It's responding to the way things are compared to the way you'd like things to be. And it's a much more convivial response than pouting or cornering unsuspecting guests at dinner parties.