An ingratiating new collection from the author of Good Morning, Merry Sunshine and American Beat. Greene's essays, reprinted from his columns in the Chicago Tribune and Esquire, seem to defy the First Law of journalism: no one can produce a daily bylined column year in and year out (Greene has been at it for nine years) without either drying up or ending in self-parody. From beginning to end--from the mugging of Howdy Doody to the strange case of Blinky the frozen chicken (reverently interred in a pet cemetery by a Chicago concept artist), these pieces are fresh, funny, and deeply sane. Greene's eye is especially sharp on the vagaries of the Baby Boomers, on upscale Yuppies who name their dogs Cappuccino and Nike instead of Spot or Rover; his sympathetic pieces are on outsiders or losers--on a convention of retired Morse telegraph workers, for instance, displaced by the microchip and advanced telecommunications. He has a gift for including himself in his stories, but without upstaging his subject. In an appealing piece in which he takes the SATs again, he muses, ""There is something about a high school on Saturday morning even after all these years,"" and then confides that he was the only ""student"" during the mid-morning break who needed to take an Inderal for his high blood pressure. The view of America rings true in these essays. On subjects ranging from Richard Nixon's predictably prim views on sneaker-wearing in the White House to John Wayne's upstaging of Davy Crockett at the Alamo, Greene blends insightful reportage with abundant wit, and often a touch of pathos.