Fables for Our Time

by James Thurber
First sentence: “Once upon a Sunday there was a city mouse who went to visit a country mouse.”
Content: There’s nothing overt, and no swearing. It’d probably end up in the poetry section of the bookstore.

I think I’ve vaguely heard of Thurber before this book was picked for my in-person book group. But I’d never really paid him much attention. So I didn’t really have any expectations going into this.

It’s a series of short fables followed by illustrated poems (the poems are by other people). Pretty simple, right? The fables are pretty standard: animals doing human-like things. But the twist was that they had pretty… unusual… morals.

Things like “It’s not so easy to fool little girls nowadays as it used to be.”

And: “Early to rise and early to bed makes a male healthy and wealthy and dead.”

And: “Never allow a nervous female to have access to a pistol, no matter what you’re wearing.”

And: “The male was made to lie and roam, but woman’s place is in the home.” (The title of that one was “The Stork Who Married a Dumb Wife.”)

And at that point, I decided that Thurber — no matter what time period he’s writing in (the 1930s) is horribly sexist and doesn’t deserve to be read.

That’s a bit harsh. I get that these are satire (which I have a hard time with, anyway), and that they’re supposed to be stereotypes. But STILL. I was more impatient than amused. Stop it already with the sexist crap.

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4 thoughts on “Fables for Our Time

  1. Oh, Melissa, say it isn't so! Don't give up on Thurber! Get “My Life and Hard Times” and read the story “The Night the Ghost Got In.” Thurber is such a wonderful writer, and he's so funny. Did you see “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” with Ben Stiller in 2013? It's based on a Thurber short story of the same name. I thought the story was better than the movie, but the movie's fun. Thurber is such a master. Try something else of his before you give up!

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  2. I'd love to know what you think! He wrote a couple of children's book I haven't read called The Thirteen Clocks and The Wonderful O. Neil Gaiman wrote the intro to an edition of The Thirteen Clocks published in 2008.

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