April 17, 2008


Shoes, Chocs, Bags, and Frocks. By Edward Monkton. Andrews McMeel. $9.99.

Great Sex after 50! And Other Outlandish Lies about Getting Older. By John McPherson. Andrews McMeel. $9.99.

      Here, just in time for any event for which you need to bring a little gift that is allowed to be humorous and offbeat, are two small-format hardcover books that quietly poke fun at some seemingly inevitable elements of life. Shoes, Chocs, Bags, and Frocks is intended for women, and is more overtly (although gently) humorous than several similar books written by poet Giles Andreae under his pen name of Edward Monkton. Other small-format Monkton books have sometimes failed to make it clear whether they were serious or all in fun, but there is no doubt this time, as Monkton meanders merrily along, offering cute little black-and-white drawings of things about which he waxes amusingly ecstatic on facing pages. For example, there is a picture of a very-high-heeled open-toed sandal on the left, beneath the headline, “My ‘Killer’ Heels,” accompanied by this text on the right: “When I wear my Killer Heels, men will GASP with passion, lust and longing, and girls will SIGH with envy and despair. For I shall be the total QUEEN of HOTNESS, and they shall be my faithful, humble slaves.” Or Monkton offers a picture of “The ‘Lovely’ Hats” (four of them, each with the word “lovely” on it), to go with this text: “When I am in charge everyone who is lovely will get a BIG HAT. That will be THE LAW!! This book takes just a few minutes to read, but that short time will be most enjoyable for any woman whose tastes run to some of the finer things in life as Monkton sees them.

      What John McPherson sees in his Close to Home single-panel comic is peculiarity everywhere. Great Sex after 50! celebrates some of that oddity – the part relating to getting older. McPherson’s characters are never attractive, but the situations in which they find themselves are often very funny. Here is a panel in which a family gives Dad a birthday party – complete with balloon vultures floating over the cake. And another party, featuring a book in extra-large type – one letter per page. And a salad-bar scene in which a man asks a woman to look for his dentures in the huge soup tureen. There’s the four-night-a-week polka party created by parents trying to get adult children to leave home for good; the newly installed pacemaker that changes the TV channel when its recipient gets the hiccups; the thoughtful wife who bakes her husband’s daily pills into peanut brittle so he won’t forget to take all of them; and many more examples of things that probably aren’t true but just possibly could be – if not in your home, then somewhere close to home.

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