Side Effects (anthology)

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Side Effects is an anthology of 17 comical short stories written by Woody Allen between 1975 and 1980, all but one of which were previously published in, variously, The New Republic, The New York Times, The New Yorker, and The Kenyon Review. It includes Allen's 1978 O. Henry Award winning story, The Kugelmass Episode.

Contents[edit]

  1. Remembering Needleman
  2. The Condemned
  3. By Destiny Denied
  4. The UFO Menace
  5. My Apology
  6. The Kugelmass Episode
  7. My Speech to the Graduates
  8. The Diet
  9. The Lunatic's Tale
  10. Reminiscences: Places and People
  11. Nefarious Times We Live In
  12. A Giant Step for Mankind
  13. The Shallowest Man
  14. The Query
  15. Fabrizio's: Criticism and Response
  16. Retribution
  17. Confessions of a Burglar

Some of the tales in detail[edit]

The first story, Remembering Needleman, is a one-liner and non-sequitur filled obituary for Professor Sandor Needleman.

The third work, By Destiny Denied, presents the reader with notes for a fictional "eight-hundred-page novel - the big book they're all waiting for."

The fifth story, My Apology, is Allen's tale of a recurring fantasy/dream of his where he imagines himself in the sandals of Socrates during the philosopher's final days in prison. The dialogue proceeds in a manner reminiscent of Terry Pratchett, and the ending contains two unexpected twists.

The sixth story, The Kugelmass Episode, is about a CCNY professor named Sidney Kugelmass who, thanks to the powers of an obscure magician, is projected into Madame Bovary to carry on an affair beyond the scrutiny of his overbearing wife.

The seventh story, My Speech to the Graduates, is a parody of platitude-laden commencement speeches.

The eleventh tale, Nefarious Times We Live In, is the most off-the-wall of them all, and concerns the events that lead to its protagonist, Willard Pogrebin, to fire a Luger at President Gerald Ford. They involve at least five kinds of drugs and three cults.

Running Jokes[edit]

Throughout the book, frequent references are made to composer Igor Stravinsky. In addition, numerous gags are made with an implication that people bear an innate knowledge of the Dutch language. Love interests of characters are compared to a grotesque, golem-like Aunt Rifka in two separate stories.