James Thurber: Writings & Drawings (including The Secret Life of Walter Mitty)
This book can be downloaded and read in iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.
James Thurber, whimsical fantasist and deadpan chronicler of everyday absurdities, brought American humor into the twentieth century. His comic persona, a modern citydweller whose zaniest flights of free association are tinged with anxiety, remains hilarious, subtly disturbing, and instantly recognizable. Here, in over 1000 pages, editor Garrison Keillor presents the best and most extensive collection ever assembled. Over 100 pieces include “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” and “The Catbird Seat,” the brilliantly satirical Fables for Our Time, the classic My Life and Hard Times, and the best of The Owl in the Attic, Let Your Mind Alone!, My World—And Welcome to It, and the other famous books. Plus 500 wonderful drawings, including The Seal in the Bedroom and celebrated sequences like “The Masculine Approach” and “The War Between Men and Women.” Rounding out the volume is a selection from The Years with Ross, a memoir of the New Yorker publisher, and a number of wonderful early pieces never collected by Thurber.
Daydreams Do Come True
“The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” is a book for dreamers, lovers and the momma’s boy in all of us. I lived at home until I was a vine-ripened 27, so believe me I can relate to James Thurber’s Mitty. And I’ve always been a fond of a good daydream. Let’s see what comes to me now:
I’m a powerful land baron with an eye patch. Nay, a feudal samurai lord. No, I’m an oil tycoon. Fabulously rich, silver-haired, steely-eyed and what’s this? I’m in turbulent fight with my lover, no my sister, no my lover and her vengeful son. He has gun. So do I! This tension is terrifying. Daydream continued in the next paragraph.
Where was I? Ah yes, the daydream. Now, I’m a young man. A prospector trying to hit it rich. Do I? Yes! This is my daydream, of course I’ll hit it rich. Black gold. The farm is saved. I am more lost in this daydream than any I have ever had. It’s spellbinding. It’s tear-jerking. Spine-tingling. There are plots upon plots upon plots. It twists, it turns. It’s a veritable roller coaster ride of goddamn emotion. This is by far the most powerful daydream I’ve ever experienced. It feels like an eternity, yet no time has passed. I am exhausted.
And now, I have a confession to make. That was no daydream. That was me experiencing in both words and pharmaceutical hallucinations, the broad plot of my dramatic novel “The Spoils of Babylon,” set to air on IFC, this very January the 9th, 2014. Adapted, directed, casted and colored in full Breath-Take-o-Scope™ by yours truly. I do apologize for my surreptitious diatribe, but I must admit, I can scarcely contain my excitement. After more than 40 years and literally thousands of edits (two editors died), the hour is upon us. And it shall be no mere daydream.
Oh, and see “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” sometime, it’s a delight.
Eric Jonrosh, author, “The Soils of Babylon,” airing on IFC, January 9th, 2014