Reviews

WOULD IT KILL YOU TO STOP DOING THAT: A Modern Guide to Manners

  •  “A brilliant primer on gracious living” (VanityFair.com)
  • “Mr. Alford is very funny in describing his conversion from passive recipient of bad behavior to active if subtle scold” (New York Times)
  • “Wickedly witty” (Publisher’s Weekly, starred review)
  • “A nearly always charming account” (Boston Globe)
  • “Pitch perfect…will keep manners mavens in stitches” (Library Journal)
  • “Amuses as it informs” (New York Times Book Review)
  • “Alford is a charming writer, who seems able to spin delightful stuff from whatever straw he happens to stumble across” (Salon.com)
  • “Alford weds the inspired lunacy of David Sedaris to the philosophic enquiry of “The Ethicist” column in the New York Times” (Whole Living)
  • “Extremely entertaining” (BookPage)
  • “Alford is a razory-wicked fun guy to be around, and each of his stories are like those ‘tiny acts of grace’ brightening your day” (Kirkus Reviews)

HOW TO LIVE: A Search for Wisdom From Old People (While They Are Still on this Earth)

  • Named a Best Book of the Year by Publisher’s Weekly
  • “Marvellous” (The Guardian) (U.K.)
  • “Terrifically fun…Funny and eccentric” (Jennifer Reese, “Books We Like”, National Public Radio)
  • “Essential reading” (Library Journal, starred review)
  • “A must read” (Washington Blade)
  • “While Alford’s slaying wit and intellectual nimbleness put him on a par with Wilde and Benchley, his personal investment infuses “How to Live” with an emotional expansiveness uniquely his own.” (Elissa Schappell, Vanity Fair)
  • “Time spent reading ‘How to Live’ won’t be regretted by those of any age. The book succeeds both as an accessible survey of wisdom and the personal journey of a midlife man who, like many of us, is trying to see the road ahead” (Los Angeles Times)
  • “Alford has a powerful, personal story to tell” (New York Times Book Review)
  • “Essayist Henry Alford [is] the Socrates of dilettantes” (Jerry Adler, Newsweek)
  • “Poignant…The Verdict: Read.” (Gilbert Cruz, Time.com)
  • “Will appeal to almost every reader” (Kirkus Reviews)
  • “The author’s mother is a role model for the ages.” (Oprah magazine)
  • “Alford is profoundly, wonderfully goofy” (Time Out New York)
  • “[S]parkling wit…As for [Alford’s mother’s] claim that, ‘We’ve misinterpreted Darwin. It’s not survival of the fittest. It’s survivable of the most adaptable,’ an amendment seems in order. For the Alfords, it’s survival of the funniest, the most charming. Just as his mother will find a way to make herself welcome wherever she goes, the author manages to be beguiling whatever he writes about.” (Laura Miller, Salon.com)
  • “[M]oving…The ultimate how-to book” (Very Short List)
  • “Awash in wry humor and poignant moments” (Minneapolis-St. Paul Tribune)
  • “Completely engaging–and very wise” (New Orleans Times-Picayune website)
  • “Wryly humorous” (Christian Science Monitor)
  • “Always thought-provoking” (Durham Herald Sun)
  • “Amusing” (Bob Minzesheimer, USA Today)
  • “Consistently witty and entertaining” (Denver Post)
  • “Alford has a quick wit” (International Herald Tribune)
  • “Hilarious writers are rarely exquisite human beings in practice. Henry is, and his new book reflects both the hilariousness and the exquisiteness.” (Sandra Tsing Loh, Salon.com)
  • “Alford is able to gain an almost unbelievable level of confidence from his subjects to discuss the epiphanies–large and small–that arise over the course of a lifetime…The narrative is beautifully interwoven with the story of his mother…From [his] engaging, and often hilarious, sojourns into cultural history, Alford is able to distill accessible and clearly-defined theories about the true nature of acquired knowledge.” (Pop Matters)
  • “The wry and endearing Alford has pulled off writing a book about wisdom that’s actually wise.” (Sarah Vowell, author of The Wordy Shipmates)
  • “Never sappy, always candid, and occasionally exhale-linguini-out-your-nostrils funny, How to Live actually lives up to its audacious title.” (Eric Weiner, author of The Geography of Bliss)
  • “Most of us don’t have the time, the inclination, or the method to at least attempt to get wiser as we get older. Henry Alford has brilliantly opened that door. My experience tells me–walk through it!” (Charles Grodin, author of If I Only Knew Then…)
  • “Plenty of laughs” (J. Peder Zane, Raleigh News and Observe
  • “Always diverting and, at times, hilarious” (Santa Fe New Mexican)

MUNICIPAL BONDAGE: One Man’s Anxiety-Producing Adventures in the Big City

  • “Great fun…A classicist, firmly in the mold of Wilde, Waugh, Benchley, and Lebowitz . . . Humor that demands to be savored on the printed page.” (The New York Times Book Review)
  • “Writing in the mode of S. J. Perelman and Flann O’Brien, Alford produces pieces of participatory journalism that are arch, smart, and exquisitely absurd.” (The Village Voice Literary Supplement)
  • “New York prankster? Manhattan Monkeyshine Maven?. . . I haven’t decided what to call Henry Alford. . . . Clinical-Trial Comedian?. . . Freelance Funster. . . . I think I’ve got it: Very funny writer.” (Newsday)
  • “Alford’s strong point is a sort of manic ever-willingness to go do something, even if–especially if–the task requires ritual self-humiliation.” (Washington Post Book World)
  • “Hip and urban, but without smugness or cruelty. . . . Alford adopts an innocent, earnest pose when venturing into these strange new worlds, and his writing is crisp and funny.” (The Boston Book Review)
  • “A renegade journalist whose “preferred mode of inquiry” is idle speculation, Alford nevertheless rouses himself to conduct “comic investigations” so that he can amass all the facts about such crucial matters as what exactly a clutter consultant can do for you; whether singles can register for gifts at department stores (after all, they like presents as much as couples); or what exactly a “nubbin” looks like. Alford will subject himself to extreme humiliation and endure any number of potentially disastrous absurdities to get his story. Other escapades include the hiring of two nude housecleaners to see if they do windows; volunteering as a driver for the 1992 Democratic National Convention in spite of never having driven in New York City traffic (he was assigned to the crusty governor of Colorado who tolerated his callowness and encouraged him to eat desserts); and going on a test-taking spree for various occupations that culminated in the spectacular failings of both human and dog-grooming exams. Amusing as these goofy inquiries are, it’s Alford’s dry-martini humor and unfailing wit that get you: he is simply devastatingly deadpan, tears-to-your-eyes funny. (Booklist)

BIG KISS: One Actor’s Desperate Attempt to Claw His Way to the Top

  • “Arguably the definitive work on theatrical humiliation.” (New York Times)
  • “Laugh-out-loud hilarious” (New York Times Book Review)
  • “A delightful narrative…When Alford finally succeeds, readers will rejoice that he’s found his well-deserved place in ‘the glamour trenches’ at last.” (Publisher’s Weekly)
  • “As Whistler said to Wilde, ‘Very witty.'” (Vanity Fair)
  • “In the tradition of George Plimpton and David Sedaris …Incisive wit twinned with snappy prose makes for some maliciously funny vignettes, rife with the command of someone who has found his niche as commentator, voyeur, and, in truth, showman.” (The Village Voice)
  • “While his style is reminiscent of writers like David Sedaris and Paul Rudnick, [Alford] has his own voice, one that is as charming as it is gleefully sardonic.” (Harper’s Bazaar)
  • “I’d like to thank the Academy and all of the little people who made Henry Alford’s hilarious book possible. Mr. Alford delivers a performance that is laugh-out-loud funny and written with high style.” (Christopher Buckley, author of Little Green Men)