Picks and Pans Review: Swimming Chickens

updated 09/07/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/07/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Colin McEnroe

There are, oh, 402 smiles, 134 nice chuckles and a dozen or so deep belly laughs just waiting for readers of these light essays. The subjects are animals: giving pills to sick cats ("forget about gratitude"), say, or creatures used by scientists ("The rats were given ample food...and very little of what a rat would consider stress. No cats, no traps, no mazes, no memos, no demands for greater productivity, no life insurance salesmen, no MTV. In short, no rat race"). In a brilliant piece entitled "Men Who Hate Cats and the Women Who Love Them and the Cats Who...," McEnroe explains why men prefer dogs: "My wife, a psychotherapist, theorizes that Snoopy is popular because he resembles a breast." McEnroe, a Hartford journalist whose humor column is syndicated, often uses odd news items to inspire his off-the-wall wit. In "If the Dinosaurs Were So Smart, Why Weren't They Rich," he introduces a famous hard-of-hearing researcher who has "one of the best minds but two of the worst ears in science." The researcher ends up disputing what he believes is a popular theory that dinosaurs died in deep-pile carpets, not tar pits. McEnroe is the kind of guy who toasts a sunset in Maine with: "Up with people: Christian CPAs, lonely satanists, college students, berserk males of various sorts. They will all work it out among themselves. Up with llamas. Up with birds too." Up with McEnroe. (Doubleday, $12.95)

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