My books are available now through used-book dealers. As always, amazon.com is a good place to find them all.
But just in case you’d like a little personal history on each one:
The Neurotic’s Handbook
This was my first book, published in 1982 by Atheneum. It was very well reviewed and sold quite well. It was picked up by the Literary Guild book club, which published it in hard cover. It was optioned by Hollywood producer Bernie Brillstein, who spoke to me of turning it into a TV series starring David Steinberg—but nothing came of that. Parts of it were translated into Flemish for excerpting in a magazine in Flemland (or wherever). All in all, it was a modest success that made me think I might have a career as a humor writer.
The Reluctant Naturalist
This was the follow-up to the first book—the neurotic heads outside and doesn’t like what he finds there. Atheneum thought it had a “literary humorist” on its hands so it published the book as a classy hard cover in 1984. Bad idea. No one wanted to pay $10.95 for a 112-page book. Even though it was well reviewed, it made me now realize that the life of a humor writer might have its ups and downs. Among all my books, it remains my favorite.
Poodles From Hell
This book, published in 1984, was a true collaboration. Mick Stevens, the New Yorker cartoonist who had done drawings for my first two books, had become a friend. He had come up with the concept for this book and was working on it by himself when he hit a wall. He called me, I liked the idea immediately, and the effort became a true collaboration. The brief texts and about two-thirds of the jokes are mine and of course all the drawings are his. We received a pretty good advance for it, but our editor left Avon just before the book was published. It went nowhere. I like to think of it as a cult classic. But that’s not true, either.
The Complete Neurotic
I’m not quite sure what the purpose of this book was. My agent was pitching various publishers on what would become “How to Get a Monkey into Harvard” (see below), when the head guy at Chronicle in San Francisco decided it would be a better idea to reissue “The Neurotic’s Handbook” in slightly different form, with a chapter of “The Reluctant Naturalist” thrown in just for the hell of it. How could I object? Chronicle sent me a check and published the book in 2005 without any fanfare or promotion whatsoever. The book business is very hard to figure out sometimes.
How to Get a Monkey into Harvard
Once our three kids were pretty much raised and out of the house, I thought I’d give the humor-book game another whirl. After all, college admissions was a subject I knew something about and could make proper fun of. I had been out of publishing for a long time, however, and no longer had a “name,” so it was a long search before we found a publisher. Once again, my editor left shortly before the book published in 2007 and no one else at Grove seemed to know who I was or what I did for a living.
This book grew out of a last-page column I had in Connecticut Magazine from 2001 to 2005. It includes short profiles of 50 places, natural features, buildings, foods, etc., that seemed to me to be especially “Connecticut” and that everyone here thinks they know about but probably don’t. Yes, I used the word “icon,” but back then it wasn’t as overused as it is now. The book sold out three printings for Globe Pequot but they decided for some reason (never conveyed to me) not to go back for a fourth – despite an order for 300 copies at full price from the State of Connecticut.