Without Feathers is a collection of 18 eclectic works of Woody Allen. The pieces are humourous and the humour is both wacky and intelligent, a combination only Allen can pull. The collection includes two plays – Death and God, both of the ROFL variety. Allen also has the obligatory French painter piece – If the Impressionists Had Been Dentists – where Vincent van Gogh writes to his brother Theo about the travails of being a dentist and concludes that he would have been a lot better had he chosen to be a painter, like their mother wanted !
My favourite piece in the collection is The whore of Mensa, a brilliant short story about a call-girl racket, where the call girls provide “intellectual” escort service. An excerpt from this story (the story is available online, so I am sure I am not violating any copyright agreements here):
Seconds later, a silky voice answered, and I told her what was on my mind. “I understand you can help me set up an hour of good chat,” I said.
“Sure, honey. What do you have in mind?”
“I’d like to discuss Melville.”
“Moby Dick or shorter novels?”
“What’s the difference?”
“The price. That’s all. Symbolism’s extra.”
“What’ll it run me?”
“Fifty, maybe a hundred for Moby Dick. You want a comparative discussion – Melville and Hawthorne? That could be arranged for a hundred.”
“The dough’s fine,” I told her and gave her the number of a room at the Plaza.
“You want a blonde or a brunette?”
“Surprise me,” I said, and hung up.
Allen’s movies are usually breezy with oodles of the feel-good factor, and his books, enormously entertaining. Woody Allen can be considered the contemporary P.G.Wodehouse.