I always appreciate a witty comeback or clever retort and for that reason I picked up Viva la Repartee - Clever Comebacks and Witty Retorts from History's Great Wits & Wordsmiths by Dr. Mardy Grothe.
While I did enjoy some of the content, I was overwhelmingly frustrated by the fact that there was very little material post 1995, and the majority of examples were from actors and writers from decades ago, and an abundance of entries from Winston Churchill.
Now while Churchill has some of the best comebacks of all time, there was no current material to offset the time spent on silver screen actors and nation leaders from 50+ years ago.
Here are five of the best worth recording here:
From Page 30
Outraged father says: "You think you can run this school any damn way you please, don't you?" In response, Educator Horace Dutton Taft replies: Your manner is crude and your language vulgar, but you have somehow got the point.
From Page 33-34
I didn't know where the expression 'off the cuff' originated, and was fascinated to learn: it comes from the world of formal affairs in the 1930s, when tuxedo-clad dinner guests would jot brief notes on the cuffs of their sleeves during the meal in order to give the impression of speaking spontaneously later on when they were called upon to deliver a few after-dinner remarks. Such remarks were clearly not spontaneous, but as years passed the expression took on the meaning it has today.
From Page 186
As he got older, Churchill retained his sense of humor, despite many of the predictable problems associated with aging. When told by a friend that his fly was open, he suggested it was no big deal, saying with resigned acceptance: A dead bird does not leave its nest.
In summary, I'd recommend Viva la Repartee by Mardy Grothe as a coffee table book or a library selection, but don't expect to be 'wowed' on every page. The gems are sprinkled throughout.
My rating = **