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Love Trouble: New and Collected Work by…

Love Trouble: New and Collected Work

by Veronica Geng

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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0395945577, Paperback)

If there is such a thing as a writer's writer, then the late, beloved Veronica Geng was a humorist's humorist. Geng set herself complicated objects of satire much like poets might challenge themselves to write in an especially difficult form. In the title story, for instance, she riffs on a Village Voice clipping that announced, "This may be the only time in history in which the words 'Mr. Reagan' and 'read Proust' will appear in the same sentence." The resulting sketch, naturally, uses the terms "Mr. Reagan" and "read Proust" in every sentence, with pleasingly surreal results. Contrived? Certainly--but that's the point. A virtuoso mimic, Geng thrived on unlikely juxtapositions. She could reproduce the thickest academese as skillfully as baseball commentary, corporate doublethink, or the prose rhythms of Henry James--even, perhaps preferably, all four at once. (She was also not above a really stunningly odiferous pun--as in "My Mao," for instance, when the Great Leader pleads with his lover, "Please don't squeeze the Chairman.") Here is LBJ baiting an elderly George Bernard Shaw; Flannery O'Connor trading love letters with S.J. Perelman; Richard Nixon tapes reviewed à la Rolling Stone. And who could forget the Eliot pastiche from "Teaching Poetry Writing to Singles"?
Let us go then, you and me,
When the weekend is spread out for us to see
Like a roommate bombed out of his gourd on the pool table....
Oh, do not ask, "You said you were who?
Let us go to the free luau.
As a genre, this sort of literary diversion is never going to make anyone rich; but reading these pieces gives the sensation of watching someone do precisely what she enjoys. There are times, in fact, when you can feel Geng's sentences go positively giddy with joy. "It's my business to love trouble," she writes, in an afternote to the title piece--and a better statement of humor's mission would be difficult to find. --Mary Park

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:18 -0400)

A collection of stories satirizing our society. They range from Settling an Old Score, on a meeting between George Bernard Shaw and Lyndon B. Johnson, to Partners, on an ostentatious wedding.

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