Caleb Spalding Atwood
Caleb Spalding Atwood’s new book, “Quip Factory: Millions of Quips, Rips, Dingers, Zingers, and Barbs and How You Can Create Thousands More” (ISBN 1453638008) provides literally millions of droll, eccentric, funny, pointed, sarcastic or witty quips that amuse, tease, taunt, surprise, shock, enrage or eviscerate , and it explains, step-by-step, how you can create such quips on your own. ForeWord Clarion Reviews gives the “Quip Factory” five stars, its highest rating, and states that it is “a pleasure to peruse, and every page offers another surprising opportunity to manipulate the English language in new and witty ways. From writers to public speakers to anyone with a passion for language and a desire to entertain themselves and others, Atwood's book is a must have.
This would make an interesting coffee table book (do people still have coffee table books? Or coffee tables?). But this makes me wish for a better cover. You want a coffee table book to want to be picked up, and you can tell when it wants to be picked up by a cover that is asking for it. It has that inviting browsability. This looks too textbook/reference to be very inviting based on cover. Beyond that, it's fairly user friendly, though it certainly has a 'type.' Not everyone is going to give this more than a cursory glance, and some who pick it up may be frustrated by its scholarly approach over plain silliness (which is there, to a lesser extent).
Basically, the book breaks down what a quip (et al) is, exactly, and then gives copious lists on how to assemble your own. Like a thesaurus, but sillier. Much is made of alliteration (I'm all for that) and rhyming, those these two aren't necessary to form a good quip -- just encouraged. And animal's are god's gift to quips, apparently. Many a good zinger involves an animal doing something improbable, or comparing someone to an animal.
The book is sort of structured around different set-ups, with long lists of potential quips and the like that you can swap out to fit the situation, plus the patterns to learn to create your own. A lot of them, if put together as suggested, sound like those hokey, folksy things a politician-playing-the-good-ole-boy would say. "A blank needs a blank like a hawk needs hip-boots." You know, you can see a politician saying this, and most of us would say "WTF does that even mean?" But the politician's followers would nod sagely...
But sometimes these are pretty fun. I like a good bit of absurdity in my life, and this could provide it endlessly. For example, using Gloria Steinem's famous quote: "A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle" (the form of which was used up there ↑↑) a variety of equally absurd - and apparently quipy - alternatives is given. My faves:
A woman needs a man ...
...like a fer-de-lance needs underpants
...like a mouse needs a penthouse
...like a cow needs a catapault
See? Alliteration and rhyming. This would make a fun drinking game. No joke, it'd just get funnier. Outside of that, is it really something that most people would find useful? No. Authors, maybe, or teachers doing lessons on similes and whanot. And people who are wanting to play said drinking game. Which purpose I will put it to, one of these days...