‘New Teeth’ by Simon Rich – Wildly Imaginative Humorous Juxtapositions

 

‘New Teeth’ by Simon Rich, stories (2021) – 227 pages

 

The stories in ‘New Teeth’ are wildly inventive and laugh out loud funny. I would recommend this collection to anyone but especially to young adults who are beginning to develop an interest in literary fiction.

Simon Rich takes typical situations and gives them an off-the-wall twist.

In the first story ‘Learning the Ropes’, the two pirates Black Bones the Wicked and Rotten Pete find that they have a 3 year old girl stowaway who was left on their ship. The story juxtaposes pirate lingo with modern parenting psychobabble to comic effect. Thus we have “Shiver me timbers” alongside “acting passive-aggressive”, “walking the plank” with “limit testing”.

The second story is called “LaserDisc”. Remember the LaserDisc machine, vintage 1991, that was supposed to replace the VHS and Beta players with a much better sound and picture quality, only to be quickly cast aside by the advent of the DVD player? Now it is 2018.

They’re watching you ironically,” explained the DVD player. They’re watching you to laugh at how you suck.”

The LaserDisc machine began to weep, and thick tears of battery acid slid down his display screen. He sobbed so hard, his wires convulsed, shooting sparks into the air, like something out of the classic film Backdraft.”

That mention of Backdraft as a classic film is a nice humorous touch.

‘The Big Nap’ is a funny title for a detective story with its play on ‘The Big Sleep’. In ‘The Big Nap’ our world-weary tough detective spouts most of the conventions that are found in detective stories. Except our detective is only two years old.

He searched the couch for clues, but all he found were Cheerios.”

Then there is ‘Chip’ who is an office robot who gets caught up in bureaucratic office politics.

The ability to be humorous is not spread out democratically. At any given time, there are only a few people in the world who can actually make me laugh. Simon Rich is one of them.

In ‘Case Study’ a London physician rescues the deformed Elephant Man Joseph Merrick from a sideshow only to find that the Elephant Man forms a romantic attachment with the physician’s wife. The comedy here is in the physician’s less-than-scientific jealous reaction to this romance.

In “Raised by Wolves”, a woman raised by wolves and her husband entertain her parents for Thanksgiving dinner.

Only ‘Screwball’, the Babe Ruth baseball story, does not rely on this other-worldly juxtaposition device, and I think Simon Rich would be wise to study this story to see how it achieves its moving and comedic effects without resorting to these artificial ruses.

But every one of these stories in ‘New Teeth’ put a smile on my face. These are the first stories that I found that were laugh-out-loud funny in a long time, and I can well see why the New Yorker would want Simon Rich to write for them.

 

Grade:   A

 

 

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