Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Book Review: The Deer on a Bicycle: Excursions into the Writing of Humor


If you have any interest in writing humor articles or just adding bits of humor to your writing, this is the book to read. I laughed my way through it because McManus offers his own articles as examples. And the stories come with quite insightful commentary on how he developed the pieces. Along the way, McManus explains the kind of things writers want to know, such as how to get your byline in magazines, your name on a book cover and how to include a “recognition factor” with which readers can identify.

Chapters open with questions from Newton, an imaginary character who thinks like the students McManus taught during his tenure as a university professor of English and Journalism. McManus answers Newt’s questions directly or with illustrations from his writing.

Published in 2000 by Eastern Washington University Press, the book’s back matter includes “Humorists I’ve Liked and Learned From,” a list of authors admired by McManus. And McManus is now definitely on my "most admired authors" list!

In The Deer on a Bicycle you’ll learn how to take small inane snapshots of life and blow them up to make people laugh so hard they cry. You’ll observe artful exaggeration and how a bit of humor goes a long way to attract editors. But even if you’re not interested in writing humor, this book is a winner just for the fun of it.


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