Ian Frazier (IAN FRAZIER)

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  • Coyote V. Acme
    by Ian Frazier
    ISBN 0312420587 (0-312-42058-7)
    Softcover, Picador

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    Book summary:

    Ian Frazier, our champ in the nearly empty field of "Humorist, Brainy Division," offers up another collection of short pieces. Though not quite the equal of 1986's splendid Dating Your Mom, Coyote V. ACME still leaves almost any other funny book far, far behind. There are occasionally empty sections, but Coyote V. ACME hits more than it misses.

    Frazier's talent is like that of a master safecracker: he never leaves any fingerprints. He recreates the tone and tics of a commonplace document--a letter from a bank President, or a legal brief--but ever so slyly lets flickers of absurdity emerge and build. Here's evidence of his style, from the title piece:
    "In addition to reducing all Mr. Coyote's careful preparations to naught, the premature detonation of Defendant's product resulted in the following disfigurements to Mr. Coyote:
    1. Severe singeing of the hair on the head, neck, and muzzle.
    2. Sooty discoloration.
    3. Fracture of the left ear at the stem, causing the ear to dangle in the aftershock with a creaking noise."

    As with most written humor, the closer you pay attention, the more Frazier's pieces yield. So settle in, and read Coyote V. ACME carefully--you won't be disappointed. [via]

  • Frazier, Ian: The Cursing Mommy's Book of Days: A Novel
  • Frazier, Ian: Dating Your Mom
    Dating Your Mom
    by Ian Frazier
    ISBN 0140096787 (0-14-009678-7)
    Softcover, Penguin

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    Book summary:

    Open Dating Your Mom to any page and begin to read; chances are you won't make it 10 seconds without laughing. ("In today's fast-moving, transient, rootless society, where people meet and make love and part without ever really touching, the relationship every guy already has with his own mother is too valuable to ignore. Here is a grown, experienced, loving woman...") A collection of Ian Frazier's New Yorker pieces from the 1970s and '80s, it's a tremendous book. Frazier is undoubtedly one of the finest living humorists--a Thurber Prize-winner--and Dating Your Mom is what cemented his reputation. His jokes are turned just so, and if the subject matter can be a little elliptical, (as in the story "Bob's Bob House") that flaw is more than excused by the guffaws that surround it. [via]

  • Family
    by Ian Frazier
    ISBN 0060976772 (0-06-097677-2)
    Softcover, Harper Perennial

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    Using letters and other family documents, Frazier reconstructs two hundred years of middle-class life, visiting small towns his ancestors lived in, reading books they read, and discovering the larger forces of history that affected them. He observes some of them during the British raid on Danbury, Connecticut, in the Revolutionary War; he follows others west as they pioneer in the wilderness of Ohio and Indiana; he visits the battlefields where they fought the Civil War. Frazier interviews old-timers, uncles, aunts, cousins, maids, and a beer-store owner who knew his dad. He pursues the family saga in aspect from trivial to grand, hoping for "a meaning that would defeat death." Family is a poetic epic of facts, a chronicle of Protestant culture's rise and fall, a memorial, and a revised view of American history as romantic as it is cold-eyed.
    [via]

  • Family (Ulverscroft Large Print Series) (0708958109) by Frazier, Ian
  • The Fish's Eye: Essays About Angling and the Outdoors
    by Ian Frazier
    ISBN 0312421699 (0-312-42169-9)
    Softcover, Picador

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    In The Fish's Eye: Essays about Angling and the Outdoors, Ian Frazier explores his lifelong passion for fishing, fish, and the acquatic world. He sees the angler's environment all around him-in New York's Grand Central Station, in the cement-lined pond of a city park, in a shimmering bonefish flat in the Flordia keys, in the trout streams of the Rocky Mountains. He marvels at the fishing in the turbid Ohio River by downtown Cincinatti, where a good bait for catfsh is half a White Castle french fry. The incidentals of the angling experience, the who and the where of it, interest him as much as what he catches and how. The essays (including the famous profile of master angler Jim Deren, late proprietor of New York's tackle store, the Angler's Roost) contain sharply focused observations of the American outdoors, a place filled with human alterations and detritus that somehow remains defiantly unruined. Frazier's simple love of the sport lifts him to straight -ahead angling description that are among the best contemporary writing on the subject. The Fish's Eye brings together twenty years of heartfelt, funny, and vivid essays on a timeless pursuit where so many mysteries, both human and natural, coincide.
    [via]

  • Frazier, Ian: The Fish's Eye: Essays About Angling and the Outdoors (Field & Stream)
  • IAN FRAZIER: Gone to New York: Adventures in the City
    Gone to New York: Adventures in the City
    by Ian Frazier
    ISBN 1862078203 (1-86207-820-3)
    Softcover, GRANTA BOOKS

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    Book summary:

    Welcome to Ian Frazier's New York, where every block is an event, and where the denizens are larger than life. Meet landlord extraordinaire Zvi Hugo Segal, and the man who scaled the World Trade Center. Learn the location of Manhattan's antipodes, and meander the length of Route 3 to New Jersey. Like his literary forebears Joseph Mitchell and A. J. Liebling, Frazier makes us fall in love with America's greatest city all over again.
    [via]

  • Ian Frazier: Great Plains
  • Frazier, Ian: Great Plains (G K Hall Large Print Book Series)
  • Frazier, Ian: Humor Me: An Anthology of Funny Contemporary Writing (Plus Some Great Old Stuff Too)
  • Inventing the Truth: The Art and Craft of Memoir, Revised and Expanded Edition
    by Annie Dillard, Russell Baker, Jill Ker Conway, Ian Frazier , Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Alfred Kazin, Toni Morrison, Eileen Simpson
    ISBN 0395731011 (0-395-73101-1)
    Softcover, Houghton Mifflin

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    Book summary:

    Every time Inventing the Truth appears in a new edition, editor William Zinsser can't help but add to it. The first edition (1987) evolved from a series of New York Public Library talks, for which the mandate was not to lecture about the genre of the memoir but to explain how a specific memoir came to be written. In the book's 1995 edition, Russell Baker, Annie Dillard, Alfred Kazin, and Toni Morrison were joined by Jill Ker Conway, Eileen Simpson, Henry Louis Gates Jr., and Ian Frazier. This time around, Zinsser has added a rich and charming reminiscence by Frank McCourt (Angela's Ashes).

    The authors do stick to their assignment: Russell Baker credits his huge family with helping him "learn a lot about humanity from close-up observation"; Jill Ker Conway talks about her desire to write a female memoir that was not a romantic happily-ever-after; and Henry Louis Gates Jr. discusses "want[ing] to write a book that imitated the specialness of black culture when no white people are around." But there is also plenty of advice for writers here, and some general thoughts about the genre. Conway addresses the difficulty of "going back as a historian" and trying to understand "all the things you took as a given when you were a child." Gates warns us to "be prepared for the revelation of things you don't even dream are going to come up." And Annie Dillard contemplates the strangeness of spending "more time writing about [a scene or an event] than you did living it." --Jane Steinberg [via]

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  • Frazier, Ian: Lamentations of the Father: Essays
    Lamentations of the Father: Essays
    by Ian Frazier
    ISBN 0312428359 (0-312-42835-9)
    Softcover, Picador

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    Book summary:

    When The Atlantic Monthly celebrated its 150th anniversary by publishing excerpts from the best writing ever to appear in the magazine, in the category of the humorous essay it chose only four piecesone by Mark Twain, one by James Thurber, one by Kurt Vonnegut, and Ian Fraziers 1997 essay Lamentations of the Father. The title piece of this new collection has had an ongoing life in anthologies, in radio performances, in audio recordings, on the Internet, and in photocopies held by hamburger magnets on the doors of peoples refrigerators. The august company in which The Atlantic put Frazier gives an idea of where on the literary spectrum his humorous pieces lie. Fraziers work is funny and elegant and poetic and of the highest literary aspiration, all at the same time. More serious than a gag writer, funnier than most essayists of equal accomplishment, Frazier is of a classical originality. This collection, a companion to his previous humor collections Dating Your Mom (1985) and Coyote v. Acme (1996), contains thirty-three pieces gathered from the last thirteen years.
     
    Past winner of the Thurber Prize for American Humor; author of the nonfiction bestsellers Great Plains, Family, and On the Rez; contributor to The New Yorker, Outside, and other magazines, Frazier is the greatest writer of our (or indeed of any) age.
    [via]

  • Nobody Better, Better Than Nobody
    by Ian Frazier
    ISBN 1558215980 (1-55821-598-0)
    Softcover, Lyons Press

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    Nobody Better, Better Than Nobody is a collection of five extended essays that appeared in The New Yorker from 1978 to 1986. In the tradition of A. J. Liebling and Joseph Mitchell, Ian Frazier raises journalism to high literary art. His vivid stories showcase a strange and wonderful parade of American life, from portraits of Heloise, the syndicated household-hints columnist, and Jim Deren, the urban fly-fishers guru, to small-town residents in western Kansas preparing to celebrate a historic, mutual massacre, to which they invite the Cheyenne Indians descendants with the promise of free bowling.
    [via]

  • On the Rez
    by Ian Frazier
    ISBN 0312278594 (0-312-27859-4)
    Softcover, Picador

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    Given that the Great Plains long functioned as a stomping ground for the Oglala Sioux, it was inevitable that Ian Frazier would cross paths with them when he wrote his 1989 chronicle of that sublime flatland. But the encounter between the self-confessed "chintzy middle-class white guy" and his Native American counterparts went so swimmingly that Crazy Horse assumed a starring role in the book. Now Frazier continues his cross-cultural romance in On the Rez. This account of the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota is as touching, funny, and maniacally digressive as anything he's written. What's more, he manages to avoid most of the politically correct potholes along the way, producing a vivid, ambivalent (i.e., honest) portrait of a community where the very "landscape is dense with stories."

    Much of On the Rez revolves around Le War Lance, whom Frazier first met in Great Plains. This yarn-spinning, beer-swilling figure serves the author as a kind of Native American Virgil, introducing him to the hard facts of reservation life. In fact, their friendship, with its accents of deep affection and dependency, anchors the entire narrative and elicits some typically top-drawer prose:

    Le's eyes can be merry and flat as a smile button, or deep and glittering with malice or slyness or something he knows and I never will. He is fifty-seven years old. I have seen his hair, which is black streaked with gray, when it was over two feet long and held with beaded ponytail holders a foot or so apart, and I have seen it much shorter, after he had shaved his head in mourning for a friend who had died.
    On the Rez delivers a history of the Oglala nation that spotlights our paleface population in some of its most shameful, backstabbing moments, as well as a quick tour through Indian America. The latter, to be honest, seems a little too conscientiously cooked up from primary sources and news clippings. But elsewhere Frazier is in superb form, reporting everything he sees and hears with enviable clarity and promptly pulling the rug out from under himself whenever he seems too omniscient. Few accounts of reservation life have been this comical; even fewer have moved beyond the poverty and pandemic drunk driving to discern actual, theological wickedness on the premises: "At such moments a sense of compound evil--the evil of the human heart, in league with the original darkness of this wild continent--curls around me like shoots of a fast-growing vine." In the hands of many a writer, the previous sentence might resemble a rhetorical firecracker. In Frazier's, it comes off as a statement of fact--which is only one of the reasons why every American, Native or not, should take a look at this sad, splendid, and surprisingly hopeful book. --James Marcus [via]

  • Saving America's Treasures
    by Ian Frazier , Henry Petroski, Thomas Mallon, Francine Prose, Phyllis Theroux, Ira Block
    ISBN 0792279425 (0-7922-7942-5)
    Hardcover, National Geographic

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    Book summary:

    America's treasures come in all shapes and sizes. Tucked away in every corner of the nation, they literally embody the history of our country and our culture -- but all too often they languish forgotten, the priceless legacy of our past crumbling quietly, inexorably, irreplaceably away. "As a nation," writes First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton in her eloquent foreword, "we have allowed too much of our heritage -- the places and objects that comprise the collective memory of America -- to deteriorate. Their preservation is our sacred trust."

    At the heart of this important effort is Save America's Treasures, a partnership between the White House Millennium Council and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, nourished by countless ordinary citizens who have pitched in to help identify and reclaim hundreds of landmark artifacts, buildings, and sites. Taken together, they tell the story of America. This fascinating, vividly illustrated book is a wonderfully varied showcase of 47 treasures, carefully selected to display the extraordinary breadth of the project's scope and profiled in a concise text that captures its place in our national chronicle.

    Each chapter features an essay by such prominent writers as Thomas Mallon, Francine Prose, and Ian Frazier, who explore the many facets of the American experience: politics and government, invention and industry, quiet congregations at prayer, and exuberant crowds at play. We visit San Esteban del Rey, the mission at the heart of what is thought to be the oldest continuously inhabited community in America, and the African Meeting House in Boston, where black Americans have worshiped for two centuries. In a Texas airfield hangar weogle a glamour girl painted lovingly onto the sleek nose of a World War II-era bomber; in Florida, we gawk at the opulent Gulf Coast palazzo of circus impresario John Ringling; in New Jersey, we peer into the prolific world of Thomas Edison, whose West Orange laboratory is a living mirror of his fertile mind. Along with these highlighted landmarks, there's also a complete list of the more than 500 preservation projects gathered into Save America's Treasures.

    In these pages, we find a remarkable portrait of America: her barns and lighthouses, her factories and fun houses, and above all, her people. Encompassing everything from the private papers of our Founding Fathers to Babe Ruth's personal scrapbooks, from the ancient cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde to Taliesin, home of our quintessentially modern architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, this evocative volume offers a glimpse of a marvelous but endangered legacy -- and a heartfelt call to safeguard our heritage before it vanishes forever. [via]

  • Talk Stories
    by Jamaica Kincaid, Ian Frazier
    ISBN 0374527911 (0-374-52791-1)
    Softcover, Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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    Restraint, it turns out, is a highly effective critical strategy. In Talk Stories, her collection of New Yorker "Talk of the Town" pieces dating from 1974 to 1983, Jamaica Kincaid writes prose as bare and bright as a light bulb. Her sentences are so clean that she seems to know exactly what she's talking about. And that's what allows these morsels of reportage to transcend their genre and become small, pointed, thrilling judgments on the world. In "Romance," a piece on a conference of Harlequin romance writers, Kincaid writes, "The women, each of whom looked freshly coiffed, sat at tables in the middle of which were large bowls of yellow and gold chrysanthemums. The women seemed very excited." There we have subjectivity in the cool guise of objectivity. On the other hand, when Kincaid is for something, she comes right out and says it. The oddity is where these hosannas land. A knitting shop in Connecticut, for example, is "perhaps the nicest store in the world, because it is run and owned by perhaps one of the nicest women in the world--a woman named Beatrice Morse Davenport."

    In her introduction, Kincaid writes: "All sentences, all paragraphs about this part of my life, my life as a writer, must begin with George Trow." The latter, who discovered Kincaid, wrote the kind of dry, clever occasional prose that flourished in the New Yorker in the 1970s and 1980s. Kincaid's Trow-like writing is the weakest, most attention-hungry in the book. "Party" is written in the style of a Nancy Drew mystery, "Two Book Parties" is written as a quiz, and "Expense Account" is just that--an expense account of a press breakfast, including the coy entry, "Cost of clothes other reporters wore to press breakfast (too complicated to make even a wild guess)." These pieces too closely resemble her mentor's work--clever but not actually, you know, funny. The structural fanciness seems cheap next to Kincaid's fine, goofily opinionated reporting. Still, after these wobbly forays into experimentation, she began to write the fiction that made her famous, so her fooling around seems to have paid off in the end. --Claire Dederer [via]

  • They Went: The Art and Craft of Travel Writing (The Writer's Craft)
    by Andrea Lee, Ian Frazier , Mark Salzman, Calvin Trillin, Vivian Gornick, Tobias Schneebaum
    ISBN 0395563372 (0-395-56337-2)
    Softcover, Houghton Mifflin

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  • Lee, Andrea: THEY WENT:TRAVEL WRITING CL (The Writer's Craft)
    THEY WENT:TRAVEL WRITING CL (The Writer's Craft)
    by Andrea Lee, Ian Frazier , Mark Salzman, Calvin Trillin, Vivian Gornick, Tobias Schneebaum
    ISBN 0395563364 (0-395-56336-4)
    Hardcover, Houghton Mifflin

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  • Frazier, Ian: Travels in Siberia
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