• Joe Pace

Favorite Non-Fiction Books, #12: Fart Proudly


He's literally wearing beaver on his head.

Ben Franklin. America's answer to Leonardo Da Vinci. Patriot and paramour, he managed to stay abreast of both politics and fashion during his years in Europe, until the cleavage between Britain and America became too wide, prompting him to say ta-ta to the Old World and return to the bosom of the New. Our brilliant, portly Founding Casanova was no boob - he was a gifted inventor. (I'm done with the puns, by the way - my little salute to Ben's fondness of both humor and female anatomy.)

Along with the stove, he managed to help invent American independence. He also somehow managed to embody both bawdiness and statesmanship at the same time and make it work, sort of the Bizarro World version of Donald Trump. And he was funny as hell. You may have read some of his essays on government, but the real gold is in his satirical work, where this Poore Richard was the American version of Swift or Pope as much as Da Vinci. "Fart Proudly" is a collection of a few dozen of these farcical, fanciful efforts.

The titular essay (okay, one more pun) explores in all mock seriousness the medical dangers of holding in your flatulence. There are pieces on rules for being disagreeable, how to reduce a great empire, and a letter to his bastard son William. My favorite, though, has always been "On Choosing a Mistress". Here, Franklin shares eight reasons why those seeking "a Commerce with the Sex" should prefer older woman for their affairs. These reasons include no risk of pregnancy, the experience older women bring to the boudoir, the observation that "in the dark all Cats are grey", and finally, "they are so grateful!"

It's electric stuff.

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