"O'Rourke demonstrates once again that there's nothing so vulnerable to a keen wit as the liberal pieties of our time. . . . An entertaining and engaging read." --Dick Lispey, Associated Press
New York Times best-selling author P. J. O'Rourke lobbed one-liners on the battlefields of the Gulf War, traded quips with communist rebels in the jungles of the Philippines, and went undercover at the Dome of the Rock Mosque as P.J. of Arabia. Now, in his most challenging adventure, he journeys to the heart of that truly harrowing place--his living room. The CEO of the Sofa follows America's preeminent political humorist through a year on the domestic front as he covers stories (and visits watering holes) close to home. He waxes cynical over the election of Hillary Clinton. He waxes nostalgic over learning to drive. He waxes poetic as he adds happy endings for liberals to famous tragedies. Now if he would just wax the kitchen floor. And P.J. does still get off the couch and embark on exotic adventures--to the magical land of India, to the U.N. Millennial Summit, to a blind (drunk) wine tasting with Christopher Buckley, and, most exotical of all, to a Motel 6 where he has twenty-eight channels and a bathroom to himself. In The CEO of the Sofa, P.J. tackles everything and the kitchen sink, fighting evil, injustice, and absurdity with the gloves off and the oven mitts on.
Not content to rest on his laurels, the bestselling humorist O'Rourke (All the Trouble in the World, etc.) instead settles back on his caustic couch to offer a wide-angled worldview from his own living room, his salon of sarcasm. He introduces readers to his assistant, friends, family and smart-aleck babysitter, as he reflects on such topics as cell phones ("People are willing to interrupt anything, including hiding under the bed, to answer a cell phone"), Christmas catalogues, Instant Messaging, MP3s, Nasdaq, toddlers, TV and how the "Gettysburg Address" would have turned out if written on an iMac. On a serious note, he praises the "philosophical legerdemain" of Hunter Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. He also reviews the "profound cogitations" of Hillary Clinton's 1995 It Takes a Village ("Some kinds of stupidity cannot be faked"), compares Vegas's Venetian resort to the real Venice ("Will video poker ever inspire a novella by Thomas Mann?") and contemplates the results of bias-free language ("What a piece of work is person!"). For "senior-management types," one hilarious chapter explains youth culture and current celebs, including Moby, Eminem, Carson Daly, Hilary Swank and Beck: "Beck dropped out of school after junior high so we can't blame the dot-com mess on him personally." Though his vitriolic wit is couched in humor that elicits the gamut from giggles to guffaws, O'Rourke never cushions its impact. The comedic crescendo is his centerpiece, a summary of mankind's achievements at millennium's end. This insightful (yet also funny) essay alone is worth the price of admission. (Sept.)Forecast: The 150,000 first printing is backed up with an appealing cover photo, a $150,000 promotional budget, a national ad campaign, an 18-city author tour plus online promotion. O'Rourke will undoubtedly find himself on the bestseller list again.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
-- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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July 23, 2002
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Excerpt from The CEO of The Sofa by P. J. O'Rourke
I was just going to say, when I was interrupted. . . .
"Nobody interrupted you," said my wife. "People have tried, but--"
That was a literary reference, dear, the first line from The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table by Oliver Wendell Holmes, author of "The Wonderful 'One-Hoss Shay,'" "The Chambered Nautilus," and--
"Other poems used mainly to torture high school students," said my young assistant, Max.
It's a shame the way the classics are treated in our schools, I continued. Holmes was a brilliant aphorist. Americans don't read anymore. Somebody sent me some quotes from The Autocrat. Where's that
"Right next to you," said my wife, "under the remote."
Listen to this: He must be a poor creature who does not often repeat himself. Imagine the author of the excellent piece of advice, "Know thyself," never alluding to that sentiment again.
"Hmmm," said my wife.
And this: All uttered thought is of the nature of an excretion. A man instinctively tries to get rid of his thought in conversation or in print so soon as it has matured.
"Good point," said my wife, flipping through some manuscript pages of mine.
"I printed out the rough draft of your article on the UN 2000
Millennium Summit," said Max, "and I'm almost done with the fact-checking. I just have to go to the UN web site and--"
I stopped him. Max, Oliver Wendell Holmes declares: All generous minds have a horror of what are commonly called "facts." Who does not know fellows that always have an ill-conditioned fact or two which they lead after them into decent company like so many bull-dogs.
"You're welcome," said Max.
And, Max, here is Holmes on the subject of computers--a hundred and fifty years ago. He hears about Babbage's mechanical calculating device and foresees the whole pathetic computer age: What a satire is that machine on the mere mathematician! A Frankenstein-monster, a thing without brains and without heart, too stupid to make a blunder; which turns out results like a corn-sheller, and never grows any wiser or better. Holmes calls it the triumph of the ciphering hand-organ.
"Max," said my wife, "I thought you were going to teach P.J. how to use the laptop."
Holmes was a man of towering intellect, of wide and deep
scholarship--essayist, poet, professor, physician--
"And major babe magnet for Transcendentalist chicks, I'll bet," said Max, "at least compared to Thoreau."
He gave the Atlantic Monthly its name.
"What," asked Max, "were they going to call it? The Cape Cod Nude Beach Express?"
Holmes anticipated the germ theory of disease. He fathered the great jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. He demolished the Puritan doctrine of predestination.
"And thought he was fated to do it," said my wife, the Catholic. Anyhow, as I was just going to say. . . . What was I going to say, dear?
"You were probably going to say, 'Where'd that remote go?'"
Speaking of electronic devices [or electric devices, and I'm not sure I precisely know the difference, although I intend to have Max find out because I'm writing an article for the online magazine freeSpam about how the computer is the triumph of the ciphering hand-organ], the other day our daughter, Muffin, announced, "I want a cell phone."
"You're three," said my wife.
"But I love them."
"Ask your father."
I love them too, Muffin. Daddy loves cell phones because Daddy doesn't have a cell phone. Daddy doesn't have a cell phone because Daddy can't see the tiny numbers on the buttons without his reading glasses. And Daddy doesn't have his reading glasses because he left them on the shelf under the Grand Central Station pay phone, which Daddy was using to call you because Daddy doesn't have a cell phone.
And that is what Daddy loves about cell phones--not having one. It makes your father unreachable. Being unreachable is a potent status symbol in the world today. Every dateless pimple nose with a dot.com has a Lexus, a business jet, a weekend house in Phuket, and a cell phone. But, Muffin, you just try getting the Queen of England on the blower. Or try finding the direct-dial number for the president of the United States--unless you're a rich campaign fund-raiser or a fat girl in saucy underwear. And those are two things that I trust you, Muffin, will never be.
[Although, by this time, Muffin had in fact wandered off to watch the Sugared Cereal Channel on TV. And so, come to notice it, had everyone else.]
But as far-too-accessible Bill Clinton has proven, out-of-touch is the important thing to be. Not that anyone would be able to get in touch with me anyway. If I had a cell phone, I'd lose it. I lose everything. I left my first wife in the back of a cab somewhere. And what a great way to be important this is. I'm a big deal because my Zippo slips between the couch cushions, and I once forgot being married.