Robert C. Benchley's sketches and articles, published in periodicals like "Life," "Vanity Fair," and "The New Yorker," earned him a reputation as one of the sharpest humorists of his time; his influence--on contemporaries such as E. B. White, James Thurber, and S. J. Perelman, or followers like Woody Allen, Steve Martin, and Richard Pryor--has left an indelible mark on the American comic tradition. "The Benchley Roundup "collects those pieces, selected by Benchley's son Nathaniel, "which seem to stand up best over the years"-a compendium of the most endearing and enduring work from one of America's funniest and most penetrating wits.
"It took me fifteen years to discover that I had no talent for writing, but I couldn't give it up because by then I was too famous."
Robert C Benchley's sketches and articles earned him a reputation as one of the sharpest humorists of his time. The American writer, who died in 1945, wrote whimsical pieces for publications such as Vanity Fair, Life and The New Yorker. This book contains a collection of some of his amusing observations on the complex absurdities of life, selected by his son Nathaniel. Benchley shares his techniques of tricking newspapers into submission ('let the paper overhear you say "Oh, well, I guess I won't read any more," and make a move as if to put it away in your pocket. Then, quick as a wink, give it a quick turn inside out before it realizes what is happening'). He explains how his lack of visual imagination forces his mind's eye to relocate all works of literary fiction to his birthplace of Worcester, Massachusetts (David Copperfield is appropriately transplanted to his old sitting room). He complains about the horrors of travelling with children, which 'corresponds roughly to traveling third class in Bulgaria. They tell me there is nothing lower in the world than third-class Bulgarian travel.' Other topics covered include men who wear women's hats, the secrets of a long life, international finance, spy rings and the social life of a newt. Although Benchley's writing is of a time gone by, his style remains entertaining. The pieces are short, so it is easy to dip in and find a fresh piece of whimsy to devour within minutes. Benchley fans may disagree with some of the choices made for this collection. However, for anyone with an interest in the kind of writing that helped shape The New Yorker magazine in the early 1920s, this is an entertaining introduction to the American humorist. (Kirkus UK)