In this age of drastic compression, it is the ambition of all the publishers I know to get everything worth reading into one little book no bigger than a Reuben’s sandwich. I’ve been playing with this idea off and on for a year, and finally worked out a new super-anthology that over a single weekend should make the conscientious reader as nearly omniscient as a man can be. It ought to make its fortunate publisher (and me) rather rich, I think. This is my prospectus:
All you want to read in One Pocket-size Volume! A miracle of Book Making. Large Type—Thick Paper.
Some of The Splendid Chapters
Burton’s Anatomy, Gone with the Wind, Steinbeck, Remnants of Modern Literature.
10,000 Words oft. mispronounced (Condensed), Nurses’ Hand Book and Indian Sex Love (Orig. 6 vol.), Sheet Welding, Manual Univ. Hist. (Cond.), Mrs. Rorer’s Cooking.
All You Want to Know in Swedish (Cond.), Soc. Register Western States, Gotha’s Almanac, Macfadden’s Body, Famous Operas, Tolstoi,Mike Gold, Marx (Leaflet edition).
Shakespeare (Laughs from), Plastic Age, Ten Atlantic Prize Novels condensed in one, Sears-Roebuck, Bradstreet, Tony Adverse.
Memoirs of a Statistician (Cond.), Cath. Index, Readers’ Digest (Cond.), Sorrows of Grand Dukes (Compressed), Orph. Annie (Selects.), Scenario Writing, quick course, Elements of Brewing, Familiar Quots., Apostles’ Creed.
Plato, Adam Smith, Tif Thayer, Bryce’s Am. Comintern, Bladder and Intest.
Great Leaders: Nathan Bedford Forrest, Artemus Ward (Bill Nye), Washington, Voliva, Dante, Doc Dafoe, etc.
Audubon’s Birds, Astrology (Simp.), Caesar & Virgil Trots, Ten Commandments.
Bible (Cond.), New Test. Stories, Moses, Abraham’s Sac, Serm. on Mount, Noah’s Ark, Dorian Gray.
Tales of Wayside Inn (Unexpurg.), Rover Boys (Summary), Shirley Temple Cutouts, Painting Thru Ages, Fish of Labrador.
Famous Clowns of Bygone Days, Unsolved Murders (Cond.), Margot Asquith, Al Capone, Donald Duck, Tank Corps, etc., etc., etc.
One Handy Volume
Bound in Boards $2.00
Compressed Morocco $3.50
As an added inducement, the publisher might give with it a set of O.Henry or van Dyke in ten volumes. This gets the buyer both ways, for if he happens to have a bookshelf, then the set will fill it up. The book needs no shelf of its own, but it might be bound to look like a small radio. Then, if the purchaser has a radio that looks like a set of books—but I become too visionary; it is time for some practical man to take hold.
Published in New Yorker magazine (August 21, 1937).