In These Forty Brief Essays, The Perennially Perturbed Will Cuppy Turns His Unflinching Attention On Those Members Of The Animal Kingdom Whose Habits Are Disagreeable, Whose Appearances Are Repellent, And Whose Continued Existence Is Not Necessarily A Foregone Conclusion He Is Not Decidedly Not Without Reason The Pike Is Pretty Nasty As Fish Go, Don T You Agree And While Cuppy May Frequently Leave In His Wake Questions Than Answers, We Surely Owe Him A Debt Of Gratitude For At Least Asking After All, Someone Has To Consider The Distinctions Between Stoats And Ermines, Or Why The Age Of Reptiles Simply Had To Come To An End And If His Take On The Giant Ground Sloth Is Less Than Flattering, Who Are We To Quibble And Grateful We Are, If Only For The Author S Flawless Observations The Carp S Falciform Pharyngeal Teeth A Fish That Sings Through Its Glenoid Cavity M Danois, Who Is Seventy Two Times As Smart As The Average Tunny No Other Writer Of Our Ken Could Pinpoint The Coloring Of The Common Viper As Gray, Greenish, Yellowish Brown, Reddish, Or Black Decorated With Illustrations By The Ever Delightful William Steig, This Bestiary Of Fanciful, Fretful, And Ferocious Creatures Is Sure To Enlighten The Naturalist In All Of Us, The One Who Never Really Understood Why, Exactly, So Little Is Known Of The Dodo S Daily Life, Even If It S Too Late To Ask About It Now Hilarity on every page Cuppy at his finest. My second favorite Will Cuppy extravaganza, this one focusing on all kinds of animals and their behavior or rather what science understood and theorized about them at the time Cuppy was alive Cuppy s trademark was to read every word he could find on a subject having access to New York libraries, that s a lot and summarize it all in a few pages Funny, interesting, and scientifically accurate Except maybe the part about how Perch go under bridges when it rains It s probably significant that not one, but three copies of this book have been destroyed by floods in my library The fish are clearly trying to tell me something. Continuing to enumerate the many failings of Aristotle the most egregious being his assertion that snakes are unsuitable for having legs Cuppy introduces us to many species who are extinct, which is a state of non being that, really, they brought upon themselves As if that s not enough, the book begins with brief pieces on various kind of disagreeable fish, followed by troublesome snakes One gets the sense that Cuppy would not mind terribly much if any or all of those became extinct one of these days Well, it would be their own darn fault Quite funny, best consumed in small doses. His enjoyable style and non sequiturs bring to mind Ted Nancy 42 Groucho 70 and Woody 93 and the Onion.Notes My U of Chicago Press edition cover art is funny illustration of a gentleman reptile in his reading chair, by John Sandford47 own your own snake 5157 pit viper etymology65 Aristotle indeed78 tortoise LAND, not water86 auk extinction88 doudo Port simpleton89 passenger pigeon beech mast91 Cuppy s extinctin92 Mesozoic dinosaurs age of reptiles 95 Gimmick s Law97 bats are going to flop too101 what s the advantage of staying awake 102 Look out for the Portugese Some old timey humor writing is still good P.G Wodehouse Some has its high points and low points Jerome K Jerome Some is just weirdly dated, and you can tell that it s supposed to be humorous because when you read it the voice in your head sounds like Groucho Marx, but you just don t find yourself laughing This is that. What a funny little book Will Cuppy, a humor columnist for the New Yorker This book focuses on a series of uncuddly creatures such as snakes an fish He was said to have read 25 plus books on a subject before writing about it This I find quite shocking since I was unable to point to any specific fact or learning in the book The driving force of each essay is the speaker s voice, which reminds me of Captain Spaulding of the Marx Brother s Duck Soup, a sort of faux intellectual It s entertaining but I wonder how it would hold up in 2013, with the many non fiction, truth bending debates. Despite the length of time this book sat on my shelf it is a one of a kind Funny, odd, and dryly British, it is full of short treatises treati on various reptiles, fish and birds, all with random footnotes that kept me chortling and interrupting my husband s attempts to fall asleep A fun put it down and then pick it up again sort of read. How to Become Extinct is a little book of nature themed wit and nonsense humor of the type that I used to most enjoy as a younger lass That said, there were some lines that did make me laugh, such as on tropical fish I always say a small aquarium containing several of these delicately lovely creatures is truly educational, for it is here that our kiddies learn all they need to know about infanticide, homicide, uxoricide, cannibalism in the home and other familiar matters of domestic routine.I f Queen Victoria did not have a Goldfish, then history has no meaning and might as well stop.Cuppy devotes a great deal of his book to the fishes, and I found it interesting that, despite being written in 1941, he has some progressive views about these animals As for the question of whether a fish suffers when he s hooked, Cuppy scolds his readers Of course it hurts the fish Not as much as it would hurt us to go through a similar experience, but some Why wouldn t it A little fusty but sometimes I chuckled out loud and it made me yearn for the days when comedy wassubtle than it is now.