Archive for the ‘Humor’ Category


You Review a Local Author: The Shallow Man books – Simon Woolcot

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

Reviewed by Patricia Kooyman

I’m Dutch so I DO wear jeans. A lot. Almost all the time. And the first time Simon Woolcot voiced his objections to the Dutch preferred way of dressing, in The Amsterdam Confessions of a Shallow Man, he actually made me laugh out loud. Repeating this aversion every other page in a way that is supposed to be funny but is actually exasperating did not.

Confessions… is a rather unromantic novel (I take it) disguised as a blog. It focusses on sex and drugs (sorry, no rock ‘n roll) and bashing the Dutch. All in very plain and factual prose with quite a few more language errors than I had hoped for, from a native speaker. Apparently nine years of living in Amsterdam has not softened Mr. Woolcot’s opinions on the Dutch, but he seems to have adapted to their sloppiness in using languages. On top of that he mangles the Dutch language by (just) misquoting or misspelling nouns and expressions.

But then his description of the ‘circle of death’ Dutch party made me laugh out loud again. And then I read some more about how bad it is to wear jeans. After that I opened up The Shallow Man Guide to Dating the Dutch. Most of the facts I am in a position to verify are certainly true.  Yes, we do wear jeans a lot. Actually, most of the time. But filling a guide on dating with repetition, as if you’re trying to teach kindergarten pupils, does not work for me. Did I mention Mr. Woolcot’s aversion to jeans?

Unfortunately Mr. Woolcot’s sense of humour does not work for me. I hope it does for you, as signed copies might still be available.

You Review a Local Author: Books with an orange connection, reviewed by ABC customers.

Simon Woolcot presented his book at Meet My Book in March.

You Review a Local Author: How to Be Orange – Greg Shapiro

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

Reviewed by Elizabeth Joss

How To Be Orange is an entertaining account of Greg Shapiro’s expat life in The Netherlands. Shapiro, a comedian well known for his performances at Boom Chicago Comedy Theatre, Comedy Central and VARA HumorTV, sheds light on the oddities of Dutch culture in his new book.

Not only does he describe hilarious and out-of-the-ordinary experiences but he also highlights his own eccentricities as an American somewhat out of place in the land of tulips and bicycles.

Shapiro’s use of satire is evident from the very subtitle: ‘An Alternative Dutch Assimilation Course’. In fact, the book itself was inspired by his stage show ‘How to Be Orange: Making the Dutch Take Their Own Assimilation Course,’ together with his observations of the Dutch culture over the past twenty years as an expat.

Furthermore, How to Be Orange subjectively touches on many aspects of Dutch culture. Everything from tiny round-lens reading glasses worn by the Dutch to the oddly designed platform toilet is brought to the forefront. Topics include ‘Dutch Culture for Dummies,’ general culture shock, multiculturalism, politics, education and even Dutch customer service.

Shapiro pokes fun at Dutch-isms but he also pokes fun at himself, his own assimilation and also his own use of the language, which he describes as ‘Google Translate Dutch’.

Lastly, the book is filled with amusing photographs of Dutch shop signs, Dutch products, images of general daily life together and even colourful cartoon-like illustrations, all of which make for a light-hearted read.

How to Be Orange concludes with an assimilation exam using similar questions taken from the ‘Nationale Inburgerings Test’ (questions that even the Dutch themselves fail to answer, says Shapiro). You can test yourself at the end, have a good laugh at the answers, and then ponder how well you too have assimilated into Dutch culture.

You Review a Local Author: Books with an orange connection, reviewed by ABC customers.

You Review a Local Author: The Satirist – Dan Geddes

Saturday, March 22nd, 2014

Reviewed by Jessie de Geus

Up until four weeks ago, I had never heard of Dan Geddes, or his online journal The Satirist. Amazon.com’s claim that millions of readers have been enjoying his online activity since 1999 raised my interest (it also made me wonder under which stone I had been living for the last 15 years). Geddes has a background in history, philosophy and literature, and, as I discovered soon, a very sharp pen.

The book contains more than 58 articles in different styles, ranging from news, biographies of lost geniuses, imaginary movie reviews to short fiction. In many ways Geddes’s satire is aimed at the usual suspects: (American) politics, capitalism, consumer behavior, religion, post-modern philosophy, literary criticism and the arrogance of academics. But Geddes is no stranger to self-criticism either, something he shows in ‘The Pathetic Lives of Satirists and Critics’, and in the sections of short fiction that revolve around disillusioned young men who can’t seem to find their place in society.

I enjoyed some parts more than others, the news articles, the lost geniuses (although eight was a bit much) and the Disney movie reviews really stood out for me. Titles like ‘IRS: Frozen Bodies Are Subject to Income Tax’, ‘Amsterdam High School Relocates to Save Historical Coffee Shop’ and ‘Supporters Praise Romney for “Not Being Obama”’ give you a pretty good idea of what you will find in this witty little volume. Geddes’s satire is very clever and made me laugh out loud many times. The image of Morgan Freeman (as Noah) standing on the deck of his ark when the storm is over, Johnny Nash’s “I Can See Clearly Now The Rain is Gone” playing in the background still makes me smile when I think about it.

Although not a book that I would read from cover to cover in one sitting, The Satirist is a great book to pick up for an hour every other day. It’s also a great to read aloud to your friends, lover or housemates.

Reviewed by Elizabeth Joss

Dan Geddes’s compilation of features, news stories, book reviews, poems and more reveals much about contemporary American society. This satirical anthology offers a tongue-in-cheek, critical take on the country’s cultural, political and economic standpoint written by Geddes over a period of fourteen years.

The stories are punchy, witty and ironic and will be appreciated by critics, academics and intellectuals alike. These fictional accounts, that mainly set out to mock America’s capitalist society, are short enough to be digested over the course of a coffee break or a tram ride.

Besides American critique, satirical features such as ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Cult Leaders,’ and quizzes like ‘Are You a Conspiracy Theorist? Take the Test,’ are engaging and convincing with a sarcastic tone. Furthermore, expect to meet imaginary historical characters such as Hans Donkerzijde, a creative genius who once resided in Amsterdam, and Karl Kinski, dubbed ‘the anti-artist’ whose works bear thought-provoking titles such as Picasso Blockhead, Hair Piece, and Straight Red Line on Canvas.

One of the most entertaining satirical essays of the book is sure to be ‘A Modest Proposal to Convert Shopping Malls into Prisons.’ This essay provides a convincing argument for the strategic, cost-effective process of converting malls into much-needed prison space – an excellent solution to a very pressing problem indeed.

“Shopping malls tend to be huge, windowless, concrete structures […] The inmates could be housed in the stores themselves. A former shoe store, for example, can house up to fifty inmates comfortably. All stores are already equipped with a metal gate for their front doors. The gate can be pulled down and locked to keep the prisoners inside. And with some “poetic justice,” shoplifters can be confined in the very stores in which they once practiced their craft.”

On the whole, Geddes’s prose is witty, persuasive and rocks the proverbial boat. His book helps us shed light on issues that have become such a normal part of capitalist society that we often fail to see the obscurity or the solutions therein. Geddes’s book leaves the reader chuckling to him or herself and questioning, ‘just what if things do go that far?’

You Review a Local Author: Books with an orange connection, reviewed by ABC customers.

Dan Geddes presented his book at Meet My Book! in February.  More of his stories/reviews/poems can be found online at the satirist.com.

ABC’s Gift Ideas: History/Politics, Horror, Humor, Local Interest/Living Abroad

Monday, November 11th, 2013

The gift-giving season is upon us – hooray!

The ABC Staff has rummaged through their sections and order lists, and come up with another year’s worth of wonderful gift ideas for you: from fiction to history to cookbooks to children’s books to travel to non-books and onwards.

In a series of blog posts and recommendation lists throughout the coming month, you will find what we think will make great gifts, whether you celebrate Sinterklaas, Christmas or just like giving books to people. And since we’re a bookstore, these posts will be alphabetical by subject. :-)

Today you’ll find gift ideas for History/Politics, Horror, Humor and Local Interest/Living Abroad as picked out by section buyers Maarten, Barry, Ester, Luke, Martijn, Tom and Agnes. Bear in mind that this is just the tip of the iceberg – come to either one of our stores to browse many, many more titles in any of these subjects.

We are ready as ever to be your personal shoppers again this year, and hope you will find our selections useful and inspiring!

You can find our gift ideas from previous years here (scroll down a bit pas 2013), and be sure to have a look at our ABC Favorites, too.

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Prize Draw Winners Max Brooks

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

Thanks for the flood of entries in our Max Brooks prize draw.  The lucky winners are:

W.H. Schut

and

Koen Kleiberg

Happy prepping for the zombie apocalypse everyone, and we hope to have another prize draw for you soon!