NRO has posted its summer reading symposium with contributions from humorist Rob Long, Professor Jonathan Adler, “Morning in America with Bill Bennett” producer Seth Leibsohn, NRO editor Kathryn Jean Lopez and others including me. Daniel Casse submits a funny list of the books he won’t be reading this summer. Thanks to K-Lo for inviting me to contribute.
To my symposium list I would add The Amorous Busboy of Decatur Avenue by comedian Robert Klein (first chapter here). I noted the favorable New York Times review of Klein’s book in “World’s funniest busboy” when the book was published. Now that I’m reading it, I can vouch for it myself. Like me, Klein is a child of the ’50s. Unlike me, he’s funny. He also writes surprisingly well, though he strains just a little to give his narrative a literary flair. Here is a near-perfect paragraph recalling his days in elementary school at P.S. 94 in the Bronx:
Our teacher, Miss McIntosh, wore a black dress every day, in mourning for her long-dead brother, along with a three-by-two-inch iron crucifix that looked like it weighed five pounds and could coincidentally incincerate Dracula in four seconds. Whether it was the dearth of dry cleaning or the infrequency of her baths is unclear, but an odor emanated from the woman like the bottom of a bird cage. I used to say that she wore a perfume called Keep Your Distance, one of the first jokes I ever made up. The perverse thing is, she knew she stank; she made excellent use of this fact in exacting her many punishments in the enforcement of discipline. If a student talked too much, she would order him under the desk for the full array of olfactory torment. If he fidgeted excessively, he was required to sit in her stench for the alloted time.