It’s easy to hate on Simon Rich: The 24-year-old published his first book, Ant Farm: And Other Desperate Situations, while still a senior (at Harvard, of course). It was praised to the skies by The New York Times and Jon Stewart, and Rich, who was also president of The Harvard Lampoon (of course), is now the youngest-ever writer for Saturday Night Live. Oh, and did we mention that his father is the Times columnist — and former “Butcher of Broadway” — Frank Rich?
But like it or not, Rich got to where he is on merit: His brief, situational vignettes are zanier, and funnier, than much of what you’ll read in The New Yorker’s “Shouts & Murmurs” column (which Rich also contributes to, of course). His new collection, Free-Range Chickens, features riffs on Dracula’s Match.com profile, the inner lives of firehouse Dalmatians, and the fears and frustrations of Very Short People (which is to say, children). Most hit their marks, and even the misses are good for a chuckle or two.
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