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My Life and Hard Times by James Thurber
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My Life and Hard Times

by James Thurber

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This is actually the first thing I've read by Thurber. Well, the first complete piece. I discovered halfway through that I had read a bit of this book as it was included in Eliot Aaronson's The Social Animal (excellent book). It's the bit from the "flood," where everybody starts running away from a completely non-existent flood. Aaronson used it as an example of conformity, as I recall.

Anyway, though, as I said, I'd never really read any Thurber. As I read this and talked to people about it, it seems that everyone I know has read quite a bit of his stuff. I can see why. It's funny, interesting, and light. Easy to read, gives you a little kick, and then you can move on. I'll probably read some of his other stuff at some point, I'd say. This one was fun. ( )
  spoko | Nov 14, 2013 |
A humourous book, but only mildly so. I expected much more from the author of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. However, these quirky reminiscences are enjoyable, if only for Thurber's inimitable style.

Aristotle said: "The world is a tragedy to those who feel, and a comedy to those who think." Seeing the past through the wrong side of the telescope, Thurber is is able to invest apparently distressing events with the patina of humour which brings out his delightfully eccentric family (including himself) into focus. Read it, and remember similar "hard times" from your childhood... ( )
  Nandakishore_Varma | Sep 28, 2013 |
One might surmise that for writing "Running with scissors" Augusten Burroughs found inspiration in James Thurber's "My life and hard times", thinking particularly of the last short story in this collection, namely "A box to hide in" which call to mind Burrough's (autobiographical) character with a carton box -- a box too small to hide in -- on is head.

There are other parallels between the two books, for instance, the suggestion that both are autobiographical, and both use the technique of the hyperbole to create hilarious situations. But where Thurber's stories are exceedingly funny, Burroughs are essentially sad; where Thurber's stories are incredibly funny and very recognizable, Burroughs are weird and disgusting.

James Thurber's short story collection "My life and hard times" consists of six, mostly very short stories, illustrated with Thurber's cartoons. The first story "The dog that bit people" describes in hilarious fashion the life of one of his family's dogs. The story is great for dog lovers. The second story, "University days" describes the protagonists' time at university. In three episodes it portrays more than anything else the despair of teachers to educate some truly resilient students, such as the immensely funny botany class and the protagonist's inability to see through the microscope, the portrait of the block-head student Bolenciecwcz, who excels at sports but is extremely dim. The attempt of the teacher to make Bolenciecwcz answer simple question is recognizable to any student, and painfully realistic to any teacher, and above all uproariously funny. These two longer stories are followed by three relatively short stories, which all describe hilariously funny situations, set in the family circle of the protagonist.

"My life and hard times" is a very short, and very light read, but very rewarding, and truly very funny. Part of the fun lies in the very recognizable situations, and part of it rests with the (imagined) mimick of the characters, and their highly authentic speech, in which Thurber has caught some typical American expressions. Although descriptions clearly betray that these stories were written in the early Twentieth century, and the stories are set in the 1910s, their humour is timeless.

Not to be missed. ( )
  edwinbcn | Feb 22, 2013 |
Classic Thurber: part biography, part bedtime story. Includes some of the best known classics, such as the Night the Bed Fell, and the Night the Ghost Got In. As always, Thurber's dry wit and droll pictures tickle the funny bone and lighten the heart. Even though Thurber writes about a time seemingly long past, the people aren't really that different from ones we know, and it's easy to visualize the parade of kooky characters that animate his prose. This short collection is an easy read, and very rewarding. ( )
  quantum_flapdoodle | Apr 18, 2012 |
Like "The Thurber Album", this book is a collection of writings (stories? essays? memoires?) about Thurber's young days in Columbus Ohio. Very funny, very weird, and a very interesting look back at a much younger America. It gets four stars rather than five only because I have to save the five stars for some of his other books. ( )
  annbury | Oct 7, 2010 |
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
James Thurberprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hutchens, John K.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Mary A. Thurber
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Benvenuto Cellini said that a man should be at least forty years old before he undertakes so fine an enterprise as that of setting down the story of his life.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060933089, Paperback)

Widely hailed as one of the finest humorist of the twentieth century, James Thurber looks back at his own life growing up in Columbus, Ohio, with the same humor and sharp wit that defined his famous sketches and writings. In My Life and Hard times, first published in 1933, he recounts the delightful chaos and frustrations of family, boyhood, youth odd dogs, recalcitrant machinery, and the foibles of human nature.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:41:11 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

The influential American humorist and cartoonist describes his childhood in Columbus, Ohio and college years.

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