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archyology ii (the final dig)
the long lost tales of archy and mehitabel
Don Marquis; jeff adams, ed.; ed frascino, illus.

University Press of New England
1998 • 131 pp. 35 drawings. 5 x 8 1/2"
Fiction & Literature / Humor

$19.95 Hardcover, 978-0-87451-853-5

Not for sale in the British Commonwealth

“archy is more peripatetic than usual in these books—he moves away from his old haunts in New York in order to observe the strange goings on in Paris, though with that same jaundiced eye…Marquis's gifts as a comic satirist have often been written about. Less has been said about the fact that he was also tilting at the excesses of American writers of bad free verse when he had archy write in the way that he did…[he created] two of America's most enduring comic characters.” —The Economist

The new—and final—adventures of archy the cockroach sage and his zany but lovable entourage.

In this second and final volume “composed” by archy, the literary cockroach, the wonderfully whimsical insect and his fractious feline friend, mehitabel, engage in misadventures large and small and comment with quirky accuracy on the common state of humanity. Previously unpublished in book form and literally recovered from a steamer trunk by editor Jeff Adams, these stories are the product of Don Marquis, a New York columnist and raconteur who was one of America's most popular humorists during the early twentieth century. archy supposedly worked at Marquis’s newsroom typewriter at night, diving headfirst onto individual keys to tap out columns; unable to use the shift key, of course, archy settled for lower-case letters and dispensed with punctuation entirely.

Ungrammatical as they may be, archy's wry insights are a true delight, for, as he puts it, “one advantage of being a cockroach is that i see things from the under side.” From that unique perspective we follow the continuing saga of archy, the Cockroach Detective, a spoof on the gumshoe genre in which the six-legged private eye encounters a raja, his chorus-girl harem, Bolshevist twins, an Egyptologist, seven sister manicurists, and a set of bejeweled false teeth. In other episodes archy saves the US fleet from a German U-boat attack, muses with a spider about humanity's inhumanity to insects, stows away on a freighter to London, and climbs to the top of the Washington Monument.

In the Capitol building itself, archy says, “there is no attention paid to me because there are so many other insects around it gives you a great idea of the american people when you see some of the things they elect.” The Ku Klux Klan, he observes elsewhere, “is going strong and the national emblem will soon be the great american kleagle.” Meanwhile, mehitabel, who claims to be a reincarnation of Cleopatra, offers to hire hit-cats to clean up City Hall, not of rats but of reporters. Accompanied by the inspired drawings of cartoonist Ed Frascino, these new archy tales are, Adams writes, “classic American humor, as vivid and amusing today as they were decades ago.”

DON MARQUIS (1878 - 1937) wrote daily for the New York Sun and Herald Tribune and was author of many books. Inveterate Marquis devotee and collector JEFF ADAMS is a corporate consultant and novelist living in northern California. ED FRASCINO is a New Yorker cartoonist an illustrator of many books, including Rudyard Kipling's Elephant Child and E. B. White's Trumpet of the Swan. They previously collaborated on archyology.

Mon, 23 Jun 2014 12:36:01 -0500