Culture 


Created in Darkness by Troubled Americans: The Best of McSweeney's Humor Category
Edited by Dave Eggers, et al (Knopf, 239 pages)

A fairly essential element of being a smartass is the "smart" part. Otherwise, of course, you're just an ass. The smartasses gathered around Dave Eggers' cult of literacy are, thankfully, as smart as they are assy, and this collection of humor pieces that appeared on the McSweeney's website reflect that by being thoughtful without being overbearing and hilarious without being obvious. McSweeney's fans should already be well familiar with the very thick strain of postmodern literary irony that runs through these pieces. A lot of the "jokes" depend on their innate clumsiness ("Goofus, Gallant, Rashomon") while others are simply great concepts that needed no fleshing out beyond their title ("Unused Audio Commentary by Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky, recorded Summer 2002, for The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring DVD" is one particularly overblown example). And though some of the bits are ridiculously retarded ("On the Implausibility of the Death Star's Trash Compactor"), if you're not well-read, many of the best jokes ("The Ten Worst Films of All Time, as Reviewed by Ezra Pound Over Italian Radio") will go right over your head.

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