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How to Tell Your Friends from the Apes

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A survey of life on earth, in all its variety and pagentry, by a very annoyed humorist.

From early man, the Neanderthal, Cro-Magnon, to irascible observations on mankind and the animal kingdom today (including “Birds I Could Do Without”), Will Cuppy, a perennially perturbed hermit, is your guide in these are very funny essays.

For eight years, from 1921 to 1929, Will Cuppy lived alone on Jones Island, off Long Island’s South Shore. From that outpost, he gained a reputation for his factual but funny magazine articles and wrote the book, How to be a Hermit , his first bestseller. His last, The Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody , was left unfinished after Cuppy’s death in 1949 and has become a classic of American humor. In between (among other titles) was this very funny collection. First published in 1931, the subjects include “What I Hate About Spring,” “Awful Mammals,” and “Why Be a Rhinoceros?” Great for anyone who loves classic American humor.

140 pages, Paperback

First published July 28, 1931

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About the author

Will Cuppy

32 books39 followers
William Jacob "Will" Cuppy was an American humorist and literary critic, known for his satirical books about nature and historical figures.

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5 stars
46 (34%)
4 stars
50 (37%)
3 stars
31 (22%)
2 stars
7 (5%)
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Displaying 1 - 17 of 17 reviews
Profile Image for Negin Khoshdaman.
35 reviews26 followers
October 30, 2019
این دومین کتاب ویل کاپی بود که خوندم، کتاب قبلی "چنین کنند بزرگان بود".
من از کتاب قبلی خیلی بیشتر لذت بردم تا این، درواقع شباهت هردو اثر این بود که اطلاعات چندانی نمی‌دادن اما کمی سرگرمت می‌کنن تا اینکه یه جاهایی دیگه خیلی خنک! و بیمزه میشه و حوصله ات از زیادی پی نوشت ها ممکنه سر بره.
اگه یه سری اطلاعات خیلی خیلی سطحی و غیرکامل اما سرگرم کننده بخواید، این کتاب مناسبیه.
درواقع هرجور دیگه نوشته میشد احتمالا واسه من کسل کننده میبود (پوینت مثبت.)
با این وجود یه چیزی توی این کتاب همش کم بود واسم. نمیدونم چی ولی یه چیزی کم بود.
Profile Image for Marlowe.
921 reviews17 followers
July 17, 2015
A series of two page profiles for a number of animals (including a section devoted to other humanoids). Cuppy displays a great deal of research and uses it well to make his profiles quite funny. The style of comedy is very subtle, making it easy to miss if the reference isn’t known.

I wasn’t wildly impressed with this book. I did enjoy it and it truly is very funny, but it left me feeling a bit empty; it’s like a meal that just isn’t as filling as expected. Finishing, I couldn’t help but to feel that I could have much better spent my time with a different selection. That being said, however, it truly is quite funny and I certainly wouldn’t say that it’s a bad book.

Just to give a sense of what to expect, here is a passage:
“When standing beside a mimosa the Giraffe is indistinguishable from the tree except that he has four legs and a head and a tail. Some hunters will stalk a mimosa tree for days without getting results.”

Ultimately, I found that the introduction by P.G. Wodehouse was the best part of the whole book (not only because Wodehouse is awesome, but also because all the best passages from the book to follow are quoted there).
Profile Image for Emanuela.
Author 4 books70 followers
August 10, 2014
La prima cosa che ti chiedi leggendo questo libro delirante è quali strumenti abbia utilizzato l'autore per questa carrellata zoologica. Io me lo immagino con:
-una mappa dell'encefalo con una legenda molto dettagliata dei punti anatomici;
-una mappa di antropometria umana e comparata;
-le immagini delle scimmie antropomorfe e loro descrizioni;
-le immagini degli uccelli, belli e brutti;
-immagini di belve ed animali esotici;
-una ricerca maniacale sulle sottospecie vere o fatte passare come tali di tutto il mondo;
-nomi di personaggi legati alla storia naturale, all'antropologia o alla zoologia, anche in questo caso veri o presunti (chi va a controllare?);
-una fantasia nello sfottere gli inglesi e la loro erudita pedanteria, con lo stesso loro senso dello humor ;
-tante altre informazioni di dettaglio, "dotte" citazioni da studiosi tra cui Aristotele e Plinio il Vecchio (almeno questi due sappiamo che sono esistiti) e qualcosa d'altro che mi sfugge.

Alla fine tutti questi animali, o ominidi, non sono altro che caricature umane che l'autore antropomorfizza facendone risaltare soprattutto i difetti. Il tutto con uno stile più che divertente, esilarante. Qualche chicca:

-L'uomo di Heidelberg ha sviluppato la mascella parlando una lingua agglutinante e piena di ümlaut.
-Il Babbuino Sacro degli Egizi è stato identificato come Thot, il dio della critica letteraria.

Le note, assolutamente da leggere, sono in pratica un altro libro tanto sono estese:

-Gli Gnu vengono usati da un certo tipo di autore per fare giochi di parole pessime come "Happy Gnu Year!"
-A proposito degli orsi polari: In realtà gli abitanti della Kamchatka non sono mai così belli come quando si coprono la faccia. Oltre agli Orsi hanno nebbia, carestie, vulcani, epidemie di isteria artica, mirtilli e apparecchi radio.
Profile Image for P.J. Sullivan.
Author 2 books68 followers
December 1, 2019
This is a book of snippets about birds and monkeys, plus other mammals and even a few primitive people. Cuppy was a notorious bird hater, so you can imagine how hilariously he deals with them. It must have done him good to write this one! This is certainly not his best book, but contains many quotable lines. For example, "All modern men are descended from a wormlike creature, but it shows more on some people." Or, "It is a good thing to keep out of the Arctic if you look like a seal." The illustrations are not as high quality as those of his other books, but are appropriately bizarre. With Cuppy you really can't go wrong. Another very funny book, but not recommended to oversensitive bird lovers.
Profile Image for Samane.
282 reviews50 followers
January 16, 2023
از انسان که بگذریم طوطی تنها جانوری است که خودش هم نمی‌داند راجع به چه موضوعی صحبت می‌کند. با این حال او هم بعضی وقتها مثل انسان‌ها یک چیزهایی می‌گوید که دست بر قضا درست از آب درمی‌آید، اما ادعای الوهیت یا جادوگری یا فلسفه‌دانی نمی‌کند.
Profile Image for Denise.
Author 1 book29 followers
March 15, 2012
A bit of amusement to while away an idle hour. Published in 1931 and still funny today, especially for those that find Spring and Aristotle annoying.
7 reviews
January 22, 2012
A friend lent me this book, and it was a complete surprise - I found myself laughing to the point of tears - and not knowing why! A strange man, and very funny.
47 reviews
April 9, 2013
I'm a huge Will Cuppy fan, period and I've read this book many times. It maybe isn't his best collection of 'writing in chunks' but it is still Will Cuppy. That is all one needs to say.
157 reviews1 follower
June 15, 2021
This is the funniest book I've read in a long time. It's just a series of short essays on various animals that originally appeared in magazines. Even the footnotes are a laugh. In fact, the footnotes may be the best part.
Profile Image for Myth Liberated.
301 reviews2 followers
August 19, 2020
با توجه به تعاریف از کتاب دنبال کتابی بودم که پشت داستان حیوانات درباره انسانها صحبت بشه که همون اول مقدمه کتاب برداشت اشتباه خودم از تعاریف رو فهمیدم و فقط کتابی با طنز مایه کم بود
Profile Image for Mohammad Alanjani.
189 reviews5 followers
October 13, 2021
نمی‌دونم خود کتاب ضعیف بود یا نویسنده با دخل و تصرفاتی که کرده بود کتاب را به این سطح از فضاحت رسانده بود....
Profile Image for Denise.
461 reviews63 followers
January 11, 2014
A collection of one liners about animals. A product of its time, there are some bits of racism. But still Will Cuppy!
Profile Image for Fishface.
3,100 reviews228 followers
February 7, 2016
Another great Cuppy collection, this one focusing mostly on the Naked Apes and their nearest kin. there are also a lot of essays on birds in here.
July 28, 2021
نجف دریابندری دیروز پرکشید
به این فکر بودم که کاش این کتاب را هم ترجمه کرده بود
این ترجمه خواسته پا جای پای دریابندری بگذارد
اما اصلا قابل مقایسه نیست
Profile Image for Graychin.
782 reviews1,800 followers
June 30, 2016
My son - who is very fond of 1920s humorists, got me hooked on Cuppy. This is a good one.
Displaying 1 - 17 of 17 reviews

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