Although Woody Allen’s film career has been disappointing over the past decade or so, his prose prowess shows no signs of having abated. Mere Anarchy, his first new collection for more than 25 years, contains a mixture of pieces reprinted from the New Yorker and brand-new writing. His recent films have been almost painfully unfunny, but the hilarious, innovative wit and skill of these jeux d’esprit show that Allen’s comic talent continues to flourish.
Highlights include “This Nib for Hire”, a satire on a highbrow writer being dragged into the movie adaptation business and having to produce a Faulkner-esque version of The Three Stooges, and the hilarious spoof Chandlerisms of a truffle hunt in “How Deadly Your Taste Buds, My Sweet”.
If one has to carp, a couple of the pieces included in this already slight book verge on the ephemeral, such as the amusing but somewhat over-precious Nietzsche diet skit “Thus Ate Zarathustra”. Moreover, the authorial obsession with large-breasted young women in tight tops becomes faintly unseemly after a time, as well as repetitive. At its best, however, Mere Anarchy is so much funnier than anything else released in recent months that it makes you fall in love with Woody Allen all over again – something of a surprise, to say the least.