An interesting take on the Pythons, but it might have trouble finding an audience, as it doesn't offer anything truly new to...

EVERYTHING I EVER NEEDED TO KNOW ABOUT _____* I LEARNED FROM MONTY PYTHON

*HISTORY, ART, POETRY, COMMUNISM, PHILOSOPHY, THE MEDIA, BIRTH, DEATH, RELIGION, LITERATURE, LATIN, TRANSVESTITES, BOTANY, THE FRENCH, CLASS SYSTEMS, MYTHOLOGY, FISH SLAPPING, AND MANY MORE!

And now for something completely different about something completely different.

Consisting of John Cleese, Eric Idle, Michael Palin, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones and Graham Chapman, England's Monty Python is arguably the only contemporary comedic entity that has transcended generations. (Laurel and Hardy, the Marx Brothers and the Three Stooges are among those that have transcended all generations, but the fact that Monty Python is deservedly mentioned alongside those icons demonstrates their importance to filmed, scripted comedy.) Their fans are passionate to the point that more people than you suspect can quote large chunks of sketches from the long-running TV show Monty Python's Flying Circus or their classic film Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Here, Cogan (Communication/Molloy Coll.; Encyclopedia of Punk Music and Culture, 2006) and Massey (English Language and Literature/Molloy Coll.; co-editor: Heads Will Roll: Decapitation in the Medieval and Early Modern Imagination, 2012) pose the question, "How can we put this useless (albeit hilarious) knowledge to good use?" The authors decided that Python—with their dead parrots, French taunters and reverence for Spam—can be used as a teaching tool, and believe it or not, they're right. Similar in tone and intent to Blackwell’s “…and Philosophy" series, Cogan and Massey apply Python's lessons (such as they are) to history, sport, art, theory and “everything else.” For example, in the history chapter, the authors deliver a lengthy discussion about Python's iconic Spanish Inquisition sketch and how it utilizes and relates to the real Spanish Inquisition. The book is exhaustive—the authors touch on nearly every decent Python moment—and while it's a clever concept, it's a tough beginning-to-end read and is best attacked in bite-sized chunks.

An interesting take on the Pythons, but it might have trouble finding an audience, as it doesn't offer anything truly new to hard-core Pythonites, and newbies may gravitate toward one of the many quality Python bios.

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-250-00470-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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DEAR MR. HENSHAW

Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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