“A SENSE OF HUMOR IS JUST COMMON SENSE, DANCING”

Got a really nice write-up in the OSARC newsletter the other day about my book, Problems of Translation. What, you inquire, is OSARC? I thought you’d never ask!

My various writer’s bios (tailoring them to fit the occasion) might or might not attest to the fact that, in addition to my days as college professor, poet and writer of short stories and novels, I’ve also been a bartender, an actor, a cab driver, a banker, a blues singer, a newspaper editor, and a shoe salesman, as well as one of those guys who passes out leaflets on street corners.  What almost none of them will tell you is that I worked for the City of New York for 22 years, specifically for the Department of Housing Preservation & Development, helping design, then administering educational programs. In that capacity, I belonged to a professional union called the Organization of Staff Analysts, whose retirees arm is called the Organization of Staff Analysts Retirees Club (hence OSARC). On page 8 of their May Newsletter they wrote the following headline: “OSARCer Jim Story’s Buzzed-About Novel Goes on Sale.”  Buzzed-about!  I love it!

The article goes on to quote Gary Shteyngart, who you may remember called my book, “An insanely funny adventure that has a deep love of language at its belly-shaking core,” as well as to mention other advanced praise the book has been receiving, and finally lists many of the altogether curious adventures my hero, Charles Abel Baker, gets himself into—in Russia, in China, in Mexico and elsewhere.

While wit and side-splitting (belly-shaking?) hilarity are not, I hope, the only thing to be found in my book, I’m nevertheless proud of the fact that so many people are finding pleasure in the book’s humor, and felt even prouder when I came across the following quote in last week’s New York Times Book Review. The reviewer, while writing about Saul Bellow, quoted the well-known critic Clive James: “Common Sense and a sense of humor are the same thing, moving at different speeds. A sense of humor is just common sense, dancing. Those who lack humor are without judgment and should be trusted with nothing.”

“A sense of humor is just common sense, dancing.” I like that!

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