The photo on the dust jacket of "Dave Barry Is Not Taking This Sitting Down" (Crown, 229 pages, $23) belies the book's title.
It shows the humorist indeed sitting on a toilet, in broad daylight, on a city street, reading the newspaper, and in formal wear. His face has a look of well, consternation.
This latest collection of 72 pieces by the syndicated (and Pulitzer Prize-winning, to boot) columnist for the Miami Herald finds Barry test-driving earth-moving "vee-hickles" in Texas, learning the art of sushi, and posing as Batman (in a costume made of "automobile floor mats") for a children's party.
In one column, readers go on the job with Barry, who prefers to work at home because "when you need to scratch yourself, you don't have to sneak behind the copying machine." In another, we take our seats in childbirth class, where he and his wife watch a film in which a woman about to give birth makes a sound like "a live yak (going) through a garlic press."
Barry offers keen observations on a wide range of topics, including:
The Internet: "... It is a global network exchanging digitized data in such a way that any computer, anywhere, that is equipped with a device called a 'modem,' can make a noise like a duck choking on a kazoo."
Beachgoing in Europe: "European women often sunbathe topless. European men are also quite exposed. Apparently there was some huge mixup over in Europe, whereby all the eye patches were mislabeled as men's bathing suits, the result being that European men at the beach often have nothing covering their Euros but a piece of fabric the size of a Cheez-It."
Making ice cream at home: "You'll need a hand-cranked ice-cream maker. ... All you do is put in the ingredients, and start cranking! It makes no difference what specific ingredients you put in, because I speak from bitter experience here no matter how long you crank them, they will never, ever turn into ice cream."
Popping up throughout are recurring mentions of some of Barry's pet objects Fran Drescher, ball peen hammers, suggested mottos for various organizations, and good names for rock bands references almost always totally unrelated to the subject at hand.
One of Barry's best collections, this book should delight his devoted readers and will surely make the uninitiated sit up and take notice.