Giraffes? Giraffes!

by Dr. and Mr. Doris Haggis-On-Whey

(McSweeney's)

W hat can be said about a book that is essentially a collection of giraffe jokes? Well, for starters, I could tell you that this is as perfect as a book like this can get. Disguised as part of some wack children's atlas series (other volumes promise "facts" on cardboard, and other worldly mysteries), the gang at McSweeney's have produced a beautiful goof-off that is as fun to read as it is to look at. I mean, the magazine is always a dazzling treat, but the books they've published have sometimes been iffy. They deserve a warm pat on their noggins for this one.

Written by the obviously fictional Dr. and Mr. Doris Haggis-On-Whey, this oversize tome contains sections on what giraffes are made of (paper mache and fruit juice apparently), sworn enemies of all giraffes (Matthew Perry is one), bread sandwich recipes (a favorite snack of the giraffe), miniature giraffes (the authors are appalled by them), and, inexplicably, a chapter on Madagascar.

Of course, there's a few cute and/or dopey jokes, but it's the subtle humor that is more constant--the authors' occasional chiding of the reader ("If you disagree with me, you are wrong."), the insistence on calling Atlanta "Hotlanta!", and one particular map that shows Canada in the shape of a rabbit are particularly inspired. And any time you can mention the fucked up sport of Jai-Alai you are guaranteed a laugh.

Besides the cool layout, the blue leather cover has pressed gold lettering and there's a back pocket that includes a postcard, an envelope to send something to the authors, and a giraffe-to-English dictionary. Studying these materials, I've decided to write a few sentences using some giraffe-speak. Listen to the beauty of this: *I was sawing blades with some giffers, making plans for this year's Forvest. Suddenly, we saw some smergels chasing some Lesters. Perhaps there was some illegal cheeging going down close by. Florida!

I learned all that in just minutes!

I'm not exactly sure who wrote this book--Dave Eggers and little brother Toph are cited for "research assistance" at the end--but whoever it was obviously has a good sense of ridiculous humor in the spirit of Monty Python. KEVIN SAMPSELL

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