DATING YOUR MOM by Ian Frazier


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Is Frazier on a savage nightmare journey to the heart of the American dream? He's not sure, but he thinks he might be. Wherever this literary chameleon is headed, his collection of 25 short humorous essays--most originally published in The New Yorker--shows that he is one of our best contemporary humorists. He brings to the essay the manic concatenation of ideas that Robin Williams brings to stand-up comedy. Like Veronica Geng and Garrison Keillor, Frazier writes in a deadpan and delights in flaunting and mangling clich‚s. Unlike them, he punctuates his parodies with broader strokes. He is, like Woody Allen, as essayist, not afraid to make outright jokes; a pleasant change from oblique drollery. Frazier reveals little of himself in his writing. He says that he sometimes will give oranges to people on the subway, and that his father was a huge, pitiless timber wolf. Though he doesn't employ a consistent persona, a consistent attitude does emerge. Frazier pretends naivet‚ as though the writing happens when he isn't looking. In ""To the Heavens, and Beyond,"" he travels the country to become a writer. In New England he ""was pleased to notice that the stately brooding shadows of Hawthorne, Thoreau, and Emerson fell across my typewriter,"" while in the Far West he ""noticed that my prose suddenly became as vast and brawling as the landscape that surrounded it."" At journey's end, he has found a theme: ""That theme was America itself."" His bravado is ironic, but his satiric scope does range widely. His essays deftly parody network television and local newspapers, hip liner notes and press release hype, playground taunts and schlock literature. And he switches voices not only between essays, but between sentences. Some of the stylistic flurries arc so densely packed--as in ""How I Did It""--that they can be obscure, but close reading reveals that they are as carefully structured as poems. Apparently unprolific--this first small collection spans a decade of writing--Frazier has certainly produced jewels.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1985
ISBN: 0312421524
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux