It's beyond me to write a review of a Woody Allen book.
Can't out-smart, out-funny, or out-yid the little mensch...so don't even want to try. That said, I can't help myself...the book is too good.
Allen's first short story collection since Getting Even, Without Feathers, and "Side Effect", this is strictly ROFL.
No sacred cows here as Allen does Dostoevsky, Psychics, Physics, Nannies, and yes, even Walt Disney in his classic schizophrenic borscht belt style.
How to choose? "Tandoori Ransom", "How Deadly Your Taste Buds, My Sweet", "Thus Ate Zarathustra", "Sing, You Sacher Tortes". It's like eating at a kosher dim sum parlour, how can you pick between siu mai and knish? Gyoza and latke? It's impossible....each story is delectable.
Only Allen can create characters like Flanders Mealworm, un-notable author, who is given the plum assignment (by E. Coli Biggs) of turning The Three Stooges into literature. Under Mealworm's hands, Moe laments (while twisting Curly's nose),
"'We suffer.....O woe to the random violence of human existence.'"
Or the narrator in "Strung Out", who has found in physics the explanation to all in the universe:
"The truth is, lately [my wife] looks as if she had passed too close to the event horizon of a black hole and some of her...not all of her by any means....was sucked in. It gives her a kind of funny shape, which I'm hoping will be correctable by cold fusion."
Thing is, Woody is Woody is Woody. You've got to have his whingey voice in your inner ear narrating the stories as you read; you've got to have his Mr. Magoo-after-a-diet face fixed firmly in your frontal lobe to image as each of the characters. It wouldn't be half as funny otherwise.
If you treasure Allen's old stand-up routines as much as I do (I carry a cassette tape in my bag...ready to slip into a player.....when I can find one), buy it this book. As it says on the flypage:
Woody Allen has managed to write a book that not only answers the most profound questions of human existence but is also the perfect size to place under any short table leg to prevent wobbling.
Mere Anarchy By Woody Allen 160 pages. $21.95. Random House.