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.
The now classic tale of Archy the cockroach and Mehitabel the cat in her ninth life. First published in 1927, this free verse poem has become an essential part of American literature.
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