Thursday, December 8, 2011

Fables in Slang

Wishlisting: Some call George Ade the first great American humor writer. Ade himself would've given that accolade to his hero, Mark Twain, but he wasn't far off. Starting in the 1890s, Ade wrote closely-observed profiles of the hustlers, shoeshine boys and liars he met in and around Chicago. He captured a period of American history when burgeoning urbanization made young cities like Chicago tumultuous and endlessly fascinating places to live.

Over time, his work became less journalistic and more fabulistic. Fables in Slang is his best-known book, and relies heavily on Ade's ear for contemporary colloquialisms. It begins: "The Learned Phrenologist sat in his Office surrounded by his Whiskers. Now and then he put a Forefinger to his Brow and glanced at the Mirror to make sure that he still resembled William Cullen Bryant."


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