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The Lives And Times Of Archy And Mehitabel
Don Marquis
Of all the literary genres, humor has the shortest shelf life--except for Archy and Mehitabel, that is. First published in 1916, it is a classic of American literature. Archy is a cockroach, inside whom resides the soul of a free-verse poet; he communicates with Don Marquis by leaping upon the keys of the columnist's typewriter. In poems of varying length, Archy pithily describes his wee world, the main fixture of which is Mehitabel, a devil-may-care alley cat.

Archy music will linger in your head long after you finish the book. Here's a tiny taste from his interview with a mummy:

"what ho
my regal leatherface says i

greetings
little scatter footed
scarab
says he"

Writers (particularly journalists) can go lifetimes without attaining such loose-limbed grace. And the illustrations by George Herriman ("Krazy Kat") provide the perfect counterpoint. On top of all that, Marquis did the impossible: he made a cockroach loveable.


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