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A Dazzling Russian travelogue from the bestselling author of Great Plains
In his astonishing new work, Ian Frazier, one of our greatest and most entertaining storytellers, trains his perceptive, generous eye on Siberia, the storied expanse of Asiatic Russia whose grim renown is but one explanation among hundreds for the region's fascinating, enduring appeal. In Travels in Siberia, Frazier reveals Siberia's role in history—its science, economics, and politics—with great passion and enthusiasm, ensuring that we'll never think about it in the same way again.
With great empathy and epic sweep, Frazier tells the stories of Siberia's most famous exiles, from the well-known—Dostoyevsky, Lenin (twice), Stalin (numerous times)—to the lesser known (like Natalie Lopukhin, banished by the empress for copying her dresses) to those who experienced unimaginable suffering in Siberian camps under the Soviet regime, forever immortalized by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in The Gulag Archipelago.
Travels in Siberia is also a unique chronicle of Russia since the end of the Soviet Union, a personal account of adventures among Russian friends and acquaintances, and, above all, a unique, captivating, totally Frazierian take on what he calls the "amazingness" of Russia—a country that, for all its tragic history, somehow still manages to be funny. Travels in Siberia will undoubtedly take its place as one of the twenty-first century's indispensable contributions to the travel-writing genre.
With his unique blend of intrepidity, tongue-in-cheek humor, and wide-eyed wonder, Ian Frazier takes us on a journey of more than 25,000 miles up and down and across the vast and myth-inspiring Great Plains. A travelogue, a work of scholarship, and a western adventure, Great Plains takes us from the site of Sitting Bull's cabin, to an abandoned house once terrorized by Bonnie and Clyde, to the scene of the murders chronicled in Truman Capote's In Cold Blood. It is an expedition that reveals the heart of the American West.
When The Atlantic Monthly celebrated its 150th anniversary by publishing excerpts from the best writing ever to appear in the magazine, in the category of the humorous essay it chose only four pieces—one by Mark Twain, one by James Thurber, one by Kurt Vonnegut, and Ian Frazier's 1997 essay "Lamentations of the Father." The title piece of this new collection has had an ongoing life in anthologies, in radio performances, in audio recordings, on the Internet, and in photocopies held by hamburger magnets on the doors of people's refrigerators. The august company in which The Atlantic put Frazier gives an idea of where on the literary spectrum his humorous pieces lie. Frazier's work is funny and elegant and poetic and of the highest literary aspiration, all at the same time. More serious than a "gag" writer, funnier than most essayists of equal accomplishment, Frazier is of a classical originality. This collection, a companion to his previous humor collections Dating Your Mom (1985) and Coyote v. Acme (1996), contains thirty-three pieces gathered from the last thirteen years.
Past winner of the Thurber Prize for American Humor; author of the nonfiction bestsellers Great Plains, Family, and On the Rez; contributor to The New Yorker, Outside, and other magazines, Frazier is the greatest writer of our (or indeed of any) age.
A great writer's journey of exploration in an American place that is both strange and deeply familiar.
In Ian Frazier's bestselling Great Plains, he described meeting a man in New York City named Le War Lance, "an Oglala Sioux Indian from Oglala, South Dakota." In On the Rez, Frazier returns to the plains and focuses on a place at their center-the Pine Ridge Reservation in the prairie and badlands of South Dakota, home of the Oglala Sioux. Frazier drives around "the rez" with Le War Lance and other Oglalas as they tell stories, visit relatives, go to powwows and rodeos and package stores, and try to find parts to fix one or another of their on-the-verge-of-working cars.
On the Rez considers Indian ideas of freedom and community and equality that are basic to how we view ourselves. Most of all, he examines the Indian idea of heroism-its suffering and its pulse-quickening, public-spirited glory. On the Rez portrays the survival, through toughness and humor, of a great people whose culture has shaped our American identity.
Twenty-two humorous essays on topics ranging from Joseph Stalin's theories of revolutionary stand-up comedy, to a commencement address given by a Satanist college President, to the opening statement of an attorney representing Wile E. Coyote in a product liability suit against the Acme company, supplier of unpredictable rocket sleds and faulty spring-powered shoes.
With wit and an unerring eye for detail, acclaimed author Ian Frazier takes readers on a journey through his family's story, his nation's history, and himself
Using letters and other family documents, Frazier reconstructs two hundred years of middle-class life, visiting small towns his ancestors lived in, reading books they read, and discovering the larger forces of history that affected them. He observes some of them during the British raid on Danbury, Connecticut, in the Revolutionary War; he follows others west as they pioneer in the wilderness of Ohio and Indiana; he visits the battlefields where they fought the Civil War. Frazier interviews old-timers, uncles, aunts, cousins, maids, and a beer-store owner who knew his dad. He pursues the family saga in aspect from trivial to grand, hoping for "a meaning that would defeat death."
Family is a poetic epic of facts, a chronicle of Protestant culture's rise and fall, a memorial, and a revised view of American history as romantic as it is cold-eyed.
“Mr. Frazier, in this remarkable history of an unremarkable family, plays both roles, the gossip and the pedant, balances skillfully, then adds his own insights as a loyal family member.” —David Willis McCullough, The New York Times Book Review
Welcome to Ian Frazier's New York, a city more downtown than up, where every block is an event, and where the denizens are larger than life. Meet landlord extraordinaire Zvi Hugo Segal, and the man who climbed the World Trade Center, and an eighty-three-year-old typewriter repairman whose shop on Fulton Street has drawers full of umlauts. Learn the location of Manhattan's antipodes, and meander the length of Route 3 to New Jersey.
Like his literary forbears Joseph Mitchell and A.J. Liebling, Frazier, in his bewitching, inimitable voice, makes us fall in love with America's greatest city all over again, the way he did, arriving as a young man from Hudson, Ohio. In classic evocations of the F train, Canal Street, and Prospect Park, Brooklyn, and in his iconic "Bags in Trees" essay, Frazier gives us New York again, in all its vital and human multiplicity.
Nobody Better, Better Than Nobody is a collection of five extended essays that appeared in The New Yorker from 1978 to 1986. In the tradition of A. J. Liebling and Joseph Mitchell, Frazier raises journalism to high literary art. His vivid stories showcase a strange and wonderful parade of American life, from portraits of Heloise, the syndicated household-hints columnist, and Jim Deren, the urban fly-fisher's guru, to small-town residents in western Kansas preparing to celebrate a historic, mutual massacre, to which they invite the Cheyenne Indians' descendants with the promise of free bowling.
"A master of both distilled insight and utter nonsense" (The Believer), Ian Frazier is one of the most gifted chroniclers of contemporary America. Hogs Wild assembles a decade's worth of his finest essays and reportage, and demonstrates the irrepressible passions and artful digressions that distinguish his enduring body of work.
Part muckraker, part adventurer, and part raconteur, Frazier beholds, captures, and occasionally reimagines the spirit of the American experience. He travels down South to examine feral hogs, and learns that their presence in any county is a strong indicator that it votes Republican. He introduces us to a man who, when his house is hit by a supposed meteorite, hopes to "leverage" the space object into opportunity for his family, and a New York City police detective who is fascinated with rap-music-related crimes. Alongside Frazier's delight in the absurdities of contemporary life is his sense of social responsibility: there's an echo of the great reform-minded writers in his pieces on a soup kitchen, opioid overdose deaths on Staten Island, and the rise in homelessness in New York City under Mayor Bloomberg.
In each dizzying discovery, Hogs Wild unearths the joys of inquiry without agenda, curiosity without calculation. To read Frazier is to become a kind of social and political anthropologist--astute and deeply engaged.
From the opening essay, "The Bloomsbury Group Live at the Apollo (Liner Notes from the New Best-Selling Album)" to the title piece that discusses ways in which you might begin a romance with your mother ("In today's fast-moving, transient, rootless society, where people meet and make love and part without ever really touching, the relationship every guy already has with his own mother is too valuable to ignore...") to a parody that features Samuel Beckett as a pilot giving an existential in-flight speech to the passengers, the twenty-five comic essays in this delightful collection are nothing short of brilliant. Ian Frazier, long considered one of our most treasured humorists, proves that comedy can be just as smart as it is entertaining.
In The Fish's Eye: Essays about Angling and the Outdoors, Ian Frazier explores his lifelong passion for fishing, fish, and the aquatic world. He sees the angler's environment all around him-in New York's Grand Central Station, in the cement-lined pond of a city park, in a shimmering bonefish flat in the Flordia keys, in the trout streams of the Rocky Mountains. He marvels at the fishing in the turbid Ohio River by downtown Cincinatti, where a good bait for catfsh is half a White Castle french fry. The incidentals of the angling experience, the who and the where of it, interest him as much as what he catches and how. The essays (including the famous profile of master angler Jim Deren, late proprietor of New York's tackle store, the Angler's Roost) contain sharply focused observations of the American outdoors, a place filled with human alterations and detritus that somehow remains defiantly unruined. Frazier's simple love of the sport lifts him to straight -ahead angling description that are among the best contemporary writing on the subject. The Fish's Eye brings together twenty years of heartfelt, funny, and vivid essays on a timeless pursuit where so many mysteries, both human and natural, coincide.
Based on his widely read columns for The New Yorker, Ian Frazier's uproarious first novel, The Cursing Mommy's Book of Days, centers on a profoundly memorable character, sprung from an impressively fertile imagination. Structured as a daybook of sorts, the book follows the Cursing Mommy—beleaguered wife of Larry and mother of two boys, twelve and eight—as she tries (more or less) valiantly to offer tips on how to do various tasks around the home, only to end up on the ground, cursing, surrounded by broken glass. Her voice is somewhere between Phyllis Diller's and Sylvia Plath's: a hilariously desperate housewife with a taste for swearing and large glasses of red wine, who speaks to the frustrations of everyday life.
Frazier has demonstrated an astonishing ability to operate with ease in a variety of registers: from On the Rez, an investigation into the lives of modern day Oglala Sioux written with a mix of humor, compassion, and imagination, to Dating Your Mom, a sidesplitting collection of humorous essays that imagines, among other things, how and why you might begin a romance with your mother. Here, Frazier tackles another genre with his usual grace and aplomb, as well as an extra helping of his trademark wicked wit. The Cursing Mommy's failures and weaknesses are our own—and Frazier gives them a loving, satirical spin that is uniquely his own.