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I don't review books I don't like!

*****= An all-time favorite
****  = Outstanding
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*        = Good, with reservations


****It Must Be True

Classic Newspaper Howlers, Bloomers, and Misprints

by Denys Parsons

Reviewed February 3, 2004.
Ebury Press, 2002, London.  272 pages.
Available at Sembach Library (306.874 PAR).

Why are the stupid things people say and write so terribly funny?  Perhaps it’s partly because of how wildly different the result can be from what was intended.

This book is hard to read quietly.  Besides chuckling out loud, I found myself compelled to read particularly funny bits to anyone who happened to be nearby.  For the last couple of weeks, if I wanted to relax and do a little laughing, I knew that I could count on a reading a few pages of this book to give me exactly what I needed.

Denys Parsons collected funny misprints and errors.  He published several volumes of them during his life.  This book collects some of the best of those collections.  The result is riotously funny.  If you read them too long, you may start giggling uncontrollably.

Some examples:

“Wrap poison bottles in sandpaper and fasten with scotch tape or a rubber band.  If there are children in the house, lock them in a small metal box.”

“Catherine had always been lucky.  Even the sun was shining when she first saw it.”

“The bride was very upset when one of her little attendants accidentally stepped on her brain and tore it.”

“Baby Show. –Best Baby under Six Months; Best Baby under Twelve Months; Best Baby under Two Years; Best Baby under Three Years.  Rules for Exhibitors: –All Exhibits become the property of the Committee as soon as staged, and will be sold for the benefit of the Hospital at the termination of the exhibition.”

“HYMN 326  ‘Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus!’
(Congregation Seated)”

“That other famous Christian hymn ‘Hark, the herald angels sing’ was originally written ‘Hark, how all the author, John Byrom, who lived in 1745, had a favourite daughter, Dolly.”

“HYMN 336  (Congregation standing)
SERMON, ‘What are you standing for?’—Dr. Fosdick.”

“The way to his heart might lie in the tricky art of cooking his liver.”

“Some people do not know that they can be treated exactly like chipped potatoes, that is, cut in thin slices and fried in deep fat.”

“Headaches?  Let us examine your eyes and help you in removing same.”

And my favorite sequence:

“March 22nd:  ‘For Sale.  Slightly used farm wench in good condition.  Very handy.  Phone 366-E-2.  A. Cartright.’

“March 29th:  ‘Correction.  Due to an unfortunate error, Mr. Cartright’s ad last week was not clear.  He has an excellent winch for sale.  We trust this will put an end to jokesters who have called Mr. Cartright and greatly bothered his housekeeper, Mrs. Hargreaves, who loves with him.’

“April 9th:  ‘Notice!  My WINCH is not for sale.  I put a sledgehammer to it.  Don’t bother calling 366-E-2.  I had the phone taken out.  I am NOT carrying on with Mrs. Hargreaves.  She merely LIVES here.  A. Cartright.’”

Copyright © 2005 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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