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Warning! This Product Contains Nuttiness: A Fun Look at the Bizarre World in Which We Live
by Sam Venable
University of Tennessee Press, 2013
Paper: 978-1-62190-006-1 | eISBN: 978-1-62190-015-3
Library of Congress Classification PN4874.V46A25 2013
Dewey Decimal Classification 741.6092

As seen through the eyes of Sam Venable, the world is indeed bizarre and filled with nuttiness. The archives of the Knoxville News Sentinel offer ample evidence that Venable is a bit of the former and has made a career out of drawing attention to the latter.
    For his latest book, Venable has gathered and organized 139 of his newspaper columns—his biggest collection yet—to create a trove of wit and wisdom. In the spirit of “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” he points a finger at human nature, the environment, civil rights and wrongs, and an eclectic mix of other targets, drawing our attention to the foibles, failings, and just plain absurdities that surround us all.
    As a native son and treasured institution in East Tennessee, Venable has earned the right to poke fun at its local history, habits, and happenings. He takes full, loving advantage of this license in essays such as “How to Tawlk Good,” “Shall We Gather with a Reptile,” and “The Good, the Bad, the Kudzu.” He takes on the government in a section titled “A Two-Ring Circus with Elephants and Donkeys,” and in another called “Still Waiting for Y2K,” he offers up “A Lesson in Dollars and Sense” and “Blowing the Budget for Bowser.”
    Some have called him a modern-day Mark Twain, others the Dave Barry of Knoxville; but while there may be some similarities, Sam Venable is wonderfully unique. He sees—and sees through—the pervasive silliness and stupidity in our world. It evokes wonder in him, and with many a deft turn of phrase, he interprets that wonder for us. Warning! This Product Contains Nuttiness will make you smile, certainly, but it will also make you think and sometimes even touch your heart.

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