Friday, December 19, 2008

"The Fable of the Author Who Was Sorry for What He Did to Willie" by George Ade

Source: Mr. Ron's Basement (MP3)
Length: 11 min
Reader: Ron Evry

The story: George Ade is a now-little-known American humor writer of the turn of the century. Many of his short stories take the form of modern-day "fables" with a ridiculous or incongruent moral tacked onto the end. In this fable, he imagines himself writing a poem so weepy and saccharine that he immediately throws it away. Little does he realize that this pathetic (in both senses of the word) poem would lead him to unexpected places.

I'm surprised that I had never heard of Ade before now. This story is so very funny because it exposes a truth about literature: that sentimentalism gains a broader audience than less facile entertainment. I'm reminded of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's frustration that no one wanted him to write anything but Sherlock Holmes mysteries. Perhaps Ade was expressing a similar frustration that he would never be able to write a serious magnum opus for which later centuries might remember him.

Rating: 7/10

The reader: The more I listen to Mr. Ron's Basement, the more I am enamored with this great podcast. Ron Evry is an excellent storyteller. He reads a little fast for my tastes, but if you're a fan of the Groucho Marx hit-em-with-a-joke-every-5-seconds school of thought, this will be right up your alley. Evry plays every funny line for all it's worth, going appropriately over-the-top with his voices and sarcastic asides. The recording is beautifully produced and bookended by some wonderfully silly banjo music.


Mister Ron said...


George Ade is one of my favorite authors of all time. Jean Shepherd used to read his stories on his radio program decades ago.

There's over a hundred Ade tales in the Basement, and most of them are indexed at:

The TechSmiths said...

You said you hadn't heard of George Ade before - I had! As an alumnus of Purdue University, I have been in Ross-Ade Stadium many times. But I never knew that THAT Ade was a witty writer (and Purdue alum!).
Last year I was also surprised to find that Booth Tarkington, who gave his name to a residence hall, was likewise a writer and a PU alum.

Listener said...

About Booth Tarkington: I'm planning to listen to The Magnificent Ambersons for my next Librivox listen, so you'll see a second Purdue alum up here soon.

The TechSmiths said...

Since I read "The Magnificent Ambersons" for LibriVox, I'll be interested in your take on it! I recently TIVO'd the movie for comparison.