A DICTIONARY OF BAD MANNERS by London Ganning

A DICTIONARY OF BAD MANNERS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In lexicon form: a sardonic slow burn over the myriad insufferable types Ganning sees infesting society. The effect, when it comes off, is roughly like a cross between Ambrose Bierce and New Yorker cartoonist William Hamilton. But as often as not the jokes fizzle, mainly because so many of Ganning's bêtes noires seem to be outlandish stuffed specimens from his own imagination rather than the odious-but-ordinary pests we meet at cocktail parties and supermarket check-out lines. How often are we vexed by ""Gibbering Gibbons,"" ""Sternutatory Snivelards,"" or ""Stigmatic Smugglers,"" to cite a few of Ganning's typically far-fetched creations? When did you last fall prey to a ""Jonah"" (defined as ""a vicious technique by which inconsequent persons seek to stabilize their own strongholds and weaken your position by cunningly evoking in the minds of other people that you are bad luck"")? Still, there is some wit here and some sharp-eyed observation, as in the waspish entries for ""Robin Hoodlums"" (revolutionary Yahoos) and the ""Citizen's Arrest"" (officious urban vigilantes). At other times Ganning's tone lurches into pure farce: to get the better of ""Large Muscular Lugs,"" he advises, slump to the ground in a simulated heart attack--with a small deranged rattlesnake concealed (for the inevitable frisking) in your jacket pocket. A little that's funny, a lot that's not--with something basically off-key in the whole performance.

Pub Date: Nov. 19th, 1982
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin