Sunday, September 12, 2010

Review: The Book of the Dead

The most important thing to note about this book is that this is not a book about death; it is very much a book about life. This book is a collection of biographies of interesting individuals: a sort of Aubrey's Brief Lives written by comedians. Each of the character sketches is short, 5 to 10 pages. The chapters are organized according to shared characteristics, ranging from bad childhoods to sex addicts to monkey owners. The sketches are undeniably humorous, and the authors have a knack for focusing on the absurd. This is a funny book, well-written and easy to read. It does operate according to the law of diminishing returns; this is a book best read in small increments, any more is overload. My one significant criticism is that some of the chapter themes are rather far-fetched, and the biographies have little to do with the theme of the chapter. Monkey-owners was probably the worst of these. Overall, though, an enjoyable book, and one that will leave the reader with all sorts of fun stories to tell at cocktail parties.

John Lloyd and John Mitchinson, The Book of the Dead (Harmony, 2010) ISBN:

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