Josh Wolk
June 08, 2007 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Mere Anarchy

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Woody Allen
publisher
Random House
genre
Short Stories, Comic Novels

We gave it a C

In Mere Anarchy, his first humor compendium in 27 years, Woody Allen still loves to mix highbrow touches (a theater producer develops a musical based on the life of Alma Mahler) with absurdist shtick (”I must go. I have a pet raccoon home that needs milking”). But sometime after writing such hilarious ’70s collections as Getting Even, Allen bought a bigger thesaurus — and it does not serve his comedy well. In these short pieces, most of which originally appeared in The New Yorker, amusing premises are so overwritten (”he could emend the scenario with sufficient cunning as to manumit you forever”) that the humor becomes impenetrable, buried under a pile of obscure synonyms. C

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