Sunday, June 07, 2009

Bookmarks--The Stupid Crook Book

The Stupid Crook Book, by Leland Gregory, is one of those perfect bathroom books. Each page contains one or two very short anecdotes. It is easy to read and certainly entertaining, in its own way. One does run the risk of having others wonder what is going on they pass by your reading room and hear your guffaws. But the bathroom is no place to seek enlightenment, so what do they expect?

Most of the stories in this collection are pretty darn funny. And there are plenty of good tales to tell, considering that most criminals are not that smart to begin with (and Americans really do enjoy laughing at other people’s idiocy). Having listened to and read bad stories by students who try to explain why they deserve a good grade when they never come to class or why they just had to plagiarize their papers, I admit to a smug satisfaction that not everyone with the same mindset is running the country, but that most trip themselves up, making the jobs of overworked police detectives that much easier.

But I do think there are a couple of problems with this book. Perhaps they fall under the pet peeves category, so take these criticisms for what they are worth. The lesser difficulty I have with The Stupid Crook Book concerns the many, many bad puns that seem to end most of the stories. A few is okay, but many were a stretch and the sheer number should make one groan.

The most significant flaw in this little volume is that not every story is about a person who is actually stupid, unless “stupid” is part of your general definition of criminal. In some cases, the criminal hasn’t done something idiotic, but has really had circumstances go against them (perhaps it is bad karma). Some of the stories are more about the odd things that criminals try to steal than about brainlessness that gets them caught. I’m not saying we should have sympathy for burglars who are having a bad day or robbers stealing a toilet or popsicles. However, with so many bad criminals in the world, why throw in narratives about what many would really call bad luck? (By the way, are criminals “smart” when they get away with their crimes? Where is the stupid police book?)

I’m sure my issues with The Stupid Crook Book won’t bother the average reader. As I mentioned, the book is, overall, pleasurable, even if that pleasure comes from thinking the reader is certainly not as dumb as the moronic and unsuccessful felons Mr. Gregory writes about.

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