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This is an assemblage of Rooney's innumerable and thoughtfully (mostly) sassy (always) letters responding to government and business folk, viewers of 60 Minutes , organizations asking him for a speaking engagement, lawyers, friends, those interested in religious matters, and others. And the letters are arranged into sections according to the type of recipient. Letters that prompted Mr. Rooney's replies are not listed (though Rooney's style allows one to easily understand the original letter's gist). No notes or index, but there seems little need for either. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Cantankerous cultural icon Andy Rooney has come up with a twist on a concept for his latest book: instead of printing letters that people have written to him, he has collected his own responses, prefaced with occasional editorial notes to get the reader up to speed. All together, they make an interesting chronicle of his career, spanning everything from his missive to CBS management's 1950 request to swear that he had never been a member of the Communist party to his response to a modern conspiracy theorist. Rooney is at his best when his sly deadpan humor comes out, as when he replies to the editor of a celebrity cookbook with a recipe for baked potato ice cream. Just as enjoyable for other reasons are the pieces in which he becomes almost breathtaking in his cussedness, stubbornly waging an extensive battle against the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance and mercilessly ripping apart the letters of a fifth-grade class. Regular viewers of 60 Minutes will be gratified to see that even in short letters, Rooney has a tendency to take sudden detours into his trademark quotidian observations ("Of all the postal abbreviations, MI is the worst."). Less frequent but more prominent are his forays into the maddeningly illogical, as when he refuses to understand why being a homosexual is not the same kind of risky behavior as being a cigarette smoker, or when he defends his linguistically naive statement that English is "better" than other languages. Ah, but that's all part of his peculiar charm, isn't it? --Ali DavisFrom the Author:
Over the years I have written thousands of letters. Some of the letters are to friends or family members but most are to people who have written because they're angry over something I've said on 60 Minutes; because they want something from me; because they think I was wrong and want to correct me; because they have an idea for me; because they want to save the world; because they are lonely, angry, ill or ecstatically happy. I've written to tax collectors, doctors, my boss, my children, my friends, my enemies.
The strength of this book--if it's going to be strong at all--would be in the thousands of small observations included in my comments to correspondents. Here are a few samples I've chosen quickly that you literary types might enjoy:
"I can't agree with what you say about organizing a home library. A good home library doesn't have to be organized. you know your books and pretty much know where they are. People don't decide what they want to read and then look in their file catalog for it. Something catches their eye. They take it off the shelf. That's the way a home library should work."
"I don't understand people who call themselves book collectors. Books collect plenty fast without anyone having to set out to do it deliberately. By the time you get to be my age, the problem is more one of weeding out books than acquiring them. Bookshelves need as much weeding as a garden and the weeds are not so apparent."
"Somewhere there ought to be a catalog with a brief description of the life and times of everyone who has ever lived. It would mean more than a stone in a field with a name chiseled on it. No memorial is satisfactory. No building, no marble slab, no plaque, no angel carved in stone preserves the memory of a life as a few paragraphs in a library-of-the-dead would."
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