Friday, November 27, 2009

Funny Business: Conversations with Writers of Comedy edited by Leonard S. Marcus

 funny business This book is a great opportunity to learn more about your favorite writers: Judy Blume, Beverly Cleary, Sharon Creech, Daniel Handler…Included along with each interview is a manuscript page with mark-ups, a bibliography of the author’s works, and, of course, pictures.  I found some of the interviews more interesting than others, and they weren’t necessarily the authors I was the most curious about.  I learned some really interesting things, like the fact that Christopher Paul Curtis (The Watsons Go to Birmingham,  Bucking the Sarge) worked on the assembly line at General Motors for 13 years before he ever started writing.  Daniel Handler talked quite a bit about the Holocaust –his father left Germany to avoid the Holocaust, and many other family members didn’t make it out.  A number of the authors had no support or encouragement for their talents growing up, and some others remember an important teacher or other adult during their childhood who nurtured their talent.  One of my favorite stories is from Judy Blume, about how her character Fudge is based on her son Larry. “Fudge is thirty-five now.  Larry is forty-four.  So it’s a long time ago that he was Fudge-like.  But we met a little boy the other evening whose father reads him Fudge every night.  We were at this boy’s grandma’s house having dinner.  His father said to him, ‘Do you know who this is?  This is Judy Blume, who writes the Fudge books.’  The little boy’s mouth just dropped, and then he came over to me and kind of petted my arm.  Then I said, ‘And guess who this is?’ pointing across the table to Larry.  Larry said, ‘I was Fudge.’  The little boy just couldn’t believe it.  He said, ‘Oh!’  and now he calls Larry ‘Fudge.’  Review by Stacy Church

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