Woody Allen – writer, director, and actor – can now add narrator to his long list of achievements, as he's teamed up with Audible to make his best-selling books available in audio for the very first time. The Woody Allen Collection, featuring four of his classic short-story books, highlights the comedian's biting wit and signature style – performed as only he can. These hilarious stories examine the deepest of human questions from the highest heights of absurdity. Allen muses on the relativity of space-time and how it can make a person late for work, the Cosa Nostra’s office-supply spending habits, the Frean - a sea monster with the body of a crab and the head of a certified public accountant - and much more.
Everything is fair game, including art, food, crime, sex, death, and dentists. As the New York Times raved, included are "brilliant flights of fancy whose comic detail and inspired silliness are at once dramatic and controlled... by the celebrated stand-up Flaubert."
The Collection includes Woody Allen’s four books Without Feathers, Side Effects, Mere Anarchy, and Getting Even, as well as an exclusive interview conducted with the author/narrator, in which he discusses the process, challenges, and rewards or recording his books for the first time.
Reading a joke never sounds as funny as hearing one. Comedy needs to spoken out loud. We need to hear the words and the awkward pauses for the humor to be released from a comedian’s chaotic mind.
Don’t believe me? Listen to Woody Allen narrate his collection of books. I’ve read many of Allen’s stories and essays over the years, especially his ‘casuals’ printed occasionally in The New Yorker. But listening to these same pieces read aloud by Allen completely transformed many of these works and took them to an entirely different level of comedic genius.
Allen’s performance of The Woody Allen Collection reminds us why he was one of the greatest stand-up comedians long before he became a world-renowned movie director. Allen has pitch-perfect timing. He knows exactly how to deliver his best lines for maximum effect. And he comes up with such outrageous, absurd ideas that might seem bizarre on the written page, but work brilliantly in audio. That might explain why you can occasionally hear Allen struggle to suppress his own laughter during certain stories.
Side Effects contains some of the most hilarious material. Written in the 1970s during Woody Allen’s height in popularity, Side Effects includes gems like “The Kugelmass Episode”, in which City College professor Sidney Kugelmass is magically transported back into the novel Madame Bovary. And if Allen ever needs an idea for a new movie, he should simply turn to Retribution, an understated piece that builds towards its priceless ending.
Getting Even features Allen’s earliest and some of his best work. Published in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, Getting Even reminds us why Allen was such a hugely popular comedian on college campuses around the country. Academia and its pretentious obsessions serve as fodder for “The Metterling Lists”, “My Philosophy”, and “Spring Bulletin”. Allen’s skills as a satirist shine in literary parodies like “Notes from the Overfed” (his riff on Dostoevsky) and “Death Knocks”. And there’s nothing quite like the series of ridiculous letters detailing a chess match in “The Gossage-Vardebedian Papers”.
The highlights of Without Feathers include “The Whore of Mensa”, a spoof of hard-boiled gumshoe detective novels about a private dick trying to crack a case about racket involving high-class call girls who specialize in the tawdry art known as literary criticism. But the best story here is “If the Impressionists Had Been Dentists”. Written in the style of Vincent Van Gogh’s letters to his brother, this short work imagines the French Impressionist painters vying not for artistic glory, but for executing the perfect root canal.
Mere Anarchy reminds us why Allen remains relevant. It contains his most recent works, many of which first appeared in The New Yorker. Not surprisingly, Hollywood and its excess serve as fodder for several of Allen’s asides, including “Caution: Falling Moguls”, “Poison Ivy: Final Cut”, and “This Nib For Hire”, an especially absurd story about all the world’s great novelists making money off novelizations of movies. But the best piece in Mere Anarchy is “The Rejection”, a hysterical tale about a Manhattan couple’s struggle to get their son into the best private nursery school. What makes “The Rejection” so good is what makes Allen’s best work sing. Beneath all the absurdities and zany plot lines there lies a kernel of truth.
Audie Award Nominee, Audiobook of the Year, 2011
"Throughout my life, literally thousands of people have made me feel inadequate, but none more so than Woody Allen." (Larry David, Producer, Writer, Actor)
"Woody Allen brought modern comedy to the cinema screen." (Ricky Gervais)
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Well worth the wait
Uneven but you may laugh out loud