Schadenfreude is one of my favorite German words, one of those like Zeitgeist that just doesn’t sound as good if we translate it into English. Of course, Schadenfreude is that irresistible joy we feel when something wretched happens to somebody who really deserves it.
Lawrence Dorfman’s slim treasury “Schadenfreude” contains plenty of wonderful schadenfreudlich examples from the annals of history.
Remember when presidential candidate Gary Hart so adamantly denied he was having extramarital affairs that he challenged the media to put a tail on him? How was Senator Hart’s campaign shot to death? Precisely. A reporter caught him aboard the yacht “Monkey Business,” with a beautiful blonde on his lap.
That’s one example Dorfman presents, and there are some lovely examples of “them getting theirs” throughout “Schadenfreude.” Better still, Dorfman’s written style brings the snark, relating his stories with celebratory glee as the mighty fall.
Seriously, any book dedicated to The Three Stooges, The Marx Brothers, et alia, “…and most of all, to Bugs Bunny and the WB Gang,” which THEN begins the Introduction with a Homer and Lisa exchange from “The Simpsons” most definitely has its comedic priorities straight.
I especially enjoyed “Schadenfreude” because of its size. There’s no excess here. I’m sure it would have been easy to dig deeper and flesh out the page count, but when you have such jewels as Richard Nixon, Tiger Woods, and the brilliant team who built the (not really supposed to be) Leaning Tower of Pisa, why force it?
The thought I had, while smirking my way through “Schadenfreude,” is that it would be the perfect book for me to take on an airline flight. It’s not very long, and each individual piece is sufficiently short that it would mesh well with my airline passenger attention span. (I once tried to read Richard Brautigan on a flight to Baltimore—bad idea)
Dorfman has also written multiple volumes of “The Snark Handbook,” which highlight even more of our humanness, and what idiots our species can be. I hereby develop the noun “Schadensnarkenfreude” and dedicate it to Lawrence Dorfman. Long may he mock.