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Book Review: Carnival of Wit

carnival of wit

carnival of wit by Leo Rosten

Carnival of Wit is a collection of pithy saying and funny quotes, compiled by Leo Rosten. I grabbed it off the shelf at a Barnes & Noble in Boise on a very rare occasion: I had walked around the store three times and had not seen anything that demanded that I buy it.

But you really can’t go wrong with wit. Or quotes.

The best thing about Rosten’s book is its sheer variety. The “wisecracks, ad-libs, malaprops, puns, one-liners, quips, and epigrams” and more from the title span many, many people and many, many centuries.

You get everything from the stuff epigrams that I associate with Lord Henry from The Picture of Dorian Grey to the brilliant nonsense of Groucho Marx to the word mangling of Yogi Berra to the grouchy sneering of H.L. Mencken  and Bertrand Russell.

The second-best thing is that these sorts of books can be dipped into at any time. This is a book that I have read both in five-second bursts and two-hour stretches.

Lots of fun. Wit and cleverness are traits I admire, largely because I don’t think they can be taught. Some people have it, some don’t.

The people quoted in this book had it–at least for one or two witty sentences.

Josh

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