Photo from The Thurber House
In Lances and Lanterns, which I am reading now and which was published in 1961, Thurber is all about Words. He loves playing with words, inventing words, using words to help him drift off to sleep. He is not amused by words used by the advertising world - "the men in the grey-flanneled minds." He abhors Hollywood's penchant for overstatement and use of exclamation marks in movie come-ons.
He has become a bit of a curmudgeon which makes him all the more endearing to me. And the simple drawings of his only add more insights into this wonderful writer's creativity.
Thurber takes on Henry James in "The Wings of Henry James" and the questions of an eight-year-old in "A Moment with Mandy." Together they ponder such mysteries as "Why didn't God make bats butterflies?" "Why didn't God give dogs glasses?" and "Why don't foxes wear foxgloves?"
He starts off the book with a hilarious piece called "How to Get Through the Day" in which he advises:
--Never answer a telephone that rings before breakfast.
--If you want to keep your breakfast down, do not read the front page, or any page, of the morning newspaper
--Avoid the ten o'clock news on the radio, at all costs.
--Do not open the morning mail when it arrives if you are alone in the house.
--Stay away from afternoon naps, but as for a nip before dinner, "I am all for it unless it leads to nipping that doesn't end until after three o'clock in the morning.
--Select dinner-table conversations with care to avoid the gloomy "running from the muddle-fuddle of international relations to the dangers of cholesterol."
--Don't watch television's "Westerns and police bang-bangs."
Although written in the 1950s, these seem to be good rules for our time as well.