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Funny-Ass Thoreau; Who Knew?

November 17, 2016

When I think of Henry David Thoreau, my thoughts flit to Transcendentalism and Walden Pond. I think of his essays I read long ago on subjects such as abolitionism, spirituality, civil disobedience, and nature. I’m pretty sure there were folks who considered him an anarchist. But, there are some things that would never come to mind during such reflections, and one of them is that Thoreau was a comic, as in, wickedly funny.

In Funny-Ass Thoreau, a newly released compendium of his writing from Atelier26 Books, I read page after page demonstrating the extent of his wit, sarcasm, snark, and laugh-out-loud observations of the crazy world around him. Some of it, most of it, could have been written today because of its relevancy to our current events and culture. Does nothing ever change? Have we learned anything from history? After the events of last week, I would have to say no.

Edited, and with an introduction by M. Allen Cunningham who has been reading Thoreau for twenty-five years, it is the first in the A26 Regeneration Series, a new line of titles that Cunningham says is “dedicated to bringing the best of bygone literary voices back into currency through small, friendly, and handsomely designed editions.”

Read an excerpt from F.A.T.’s intro over at Lit Hub and learn how Thoreau helped Cunningham through his teen years. He says, “For me, Thoreau’s writing was a drug. It knocked my neurons around. It worked me over completely, induced a sort of insanity, and actually changed the course of my life forever.”

And maybe it can change yours. Drop by your favorite bookstore or go to to find out for yourself. Oh, and it just happens to have come out just ahead of the 2017 bicentennial of Thoreau’s birth. Happy birthday, Thoreau!

I’ll leave you with this:

“There is some advantage in being the humblest, cheapest, least dignified man in the village, so that the very stable boys shall damn you, Methinks I enjoy that advantage to an unusual extent.”

– Henry David Thoreau, Journal, July 6, 1850


  1. “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”
    …. huh…. and here I thought Thoreau was too serious to ever send readers into the woods laughing, too.

    Great blog.

  2. Steve permalink

    “Few seemed to be listening when Thoreau offered his first book to the public, with the result that the book had such poor sales that the publisher had to return to Thoreau more than 700 of the 1,000 copies that were printed. Thoreau’s journal entry recording that event reflects his essential character –frankness tempered with ironic humor: “I now have a library of nearly nine hundred volumes, over seven hundred of which I wrote myself.””

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