Dispatches from the Tenth Circle: The Best of the Onion
Jake Mohlman
7/14/2002 2:42:48 PM

The problem with satire is that the person writing it frequently has an axe to grind. As a result, it will inevitably be offensive, and hence unappreciated, by a significant portion of the population. The Onion has rather ingeniously avoided by this conundrum by mocking everyone and everything. I don't care what group you choose to affiliate yourself with, you're not human if you aren't laughing out loud, with tears streaming down your face, by the third page of Dispatches from the Tenth Circle [Three Rivers Press].

What the brilliant Our Dumb Century did for the 1900's, so too does this book for current events. Through the medium of newspaper 'articles', political leaders, musicians, actors, sports heroes, popular culture, etc. are lampooned with brutal accuracy. Most amazing is that in a book that contains literally hundreds of articles, almost all of the entries are remarkably literate. I can only describe them by suggesting that the reader imagine what it would be like if Dennis Miller edited the New York Times. Even when the humor turns lowbrow, as it sometimes does, it is so matter of fact that one can't help but laugh. There's no pretense, no embarrassment, just a deadpan delivery of frequently surreal material.

This book is not for the easily offended, so if you hold your views and idols sacrosanct, skip this one. However, is you can stand to have that which you hold most dear skewered, and laugh about it, you will not regret purchasing this book. In fact I think former VP Al Gore's (I'm a registered Republican, so you can see what strange bed-fellows this book can make) statement on the back cover puts it best: "This publication is destructive to our shared values. Read it yourself and you'll see what I mean. Seriously, what else could make me laugh - much less laugh uproariously - while being offended week after week?


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