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List Price: $9.99


On Sale: August 26, 2008
Pages: 0 | ISBN: 978-1-58836-732-7
Published by : Random House Random House Group
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humor (38) fiction (13) short stories (8) essays (4) comedy (4)
humor (38) fiction (13) short stories (8) essays (4) comedy (4)


After a riotous debut collection, Ant Farm, Simon Rich returns to mine more comedy from our hopelessly terrifying world. In the nostalgic opening chapter, Rich recalls his fear of the Tooth Fairy (“Is there a face fairy?”) and his initial reaction to the “Got-your-nose” game (“Please just kill me. Better to die than to live the rest of my life as a monster”). He gets inside the heads of two firehouse Dalmatians who can’t understand their masters’ compulsion to drive off to horrible fires every day (“What the hell is wrong with these people?”). And in the final chapter, he tackles one of life’s biggest questions: Does God really have a plan for us? Yes, it turns out. Now if only He could remember what it was. . . .


Terrifying childhood experiences

—Got your nose!
—Please just kill me. Better to die than to live the rest of my life as a monster.

—What’s that in your ear? Hey—it’s a quarter!
—Why is everybody laughing? I have a horrifying brain disease.

—Jesus Christ. You came out of nowhere.

When I lost my first tooth

me: You’re never going to believe this. I was hanging out with my friends and all of a sudden, a tooth fell out of my mouth. I think there’s something seriously wrong with me.

mom: Looks like the tooth fairy’s coming to town!

me: Who?

mom: The tooth fairy. She visits children in the middle of the night and takes their teeth.

me: Is she . . . a cannibal?

mom: No, she’s a fairy.

me: What else does she take? Does she take eyes?

mom: No, just teeth. And when she’s done, she leaves a surprise under your pillow.

me: Oh my God.

mom: I wonder what it’ll be this time?

me: Okay . . . let’s not panic here. There’s got to be a way to trap her or kill her. We just need to think.

mom: You don’t want to kill the tooth fairy.

me: Why not? Wait a minute . . . I see what’s going on. You’re in cahoots with her! God, it all makes sense now . . . how else would she know that I had lost a tooth in the first place?

mom: I think someone’s getting a little sleepy.

me: Wait until Dad finds out about this!

mom: He knows about the tooth fairy, sweetie.

me: Jesus Christ. How high up does this thing go?

mom: Let’s get you tucked in.

me: Listen . . . as long as we’re laying it all on the line, you might as well be straight with me. What other fairies are you working with? Is there a face fairy?

mom: There’s just a tooth fairy, sweetie. She comes every time you lose a tooth.

me: What do you mean “every time”? I’m going to lose more teeth?

mom: You’re going to lose all of them.

A conversation between the people who hid in my closet every night when I was seven

freddy krueger: When do you guys want to kill him?

murderer from the six o’clock news: How about right now?

dead uncle whose body i saw at an open casket funeral: I say we do it when he gets up to pee. You know, when he’s walking down the hallway, in the dark.

freddy krueger: What if he doesn’t get up?

murderer: He’ll get up. Look at how he’s squirming. It’s only a matter of time.

dead uncle: Man, I cannot wait to kill this kid.

murderer: Same here.

freddy krueger: I’ve wanted to kill him ever since he saw my movie.

dead uncle: Hey, do you guys remember that night-light Simon used to have?

murderer: Man, that thing scared the heck out of me.

freddy krueger: It’s a good thing his mom got rid of it. Now there’s nothing to stop us from killing him. (Everyone nods in agreement.)

dr. murphy: Hey, guys, sorry I’m late. I was busy scheduling an appointment with Simon, to give him shots. freddy krueger: No problem.

(Freddy Krueger and Dr. Murphy do their secret handshake.)

murderer: It’s getting kind of crowded in here. Chucky, can you move over?

chucky: I’m over as far as I can get.

murderer: I need more space than you’re giving me. I’m a lot bigger than you.

chucky: Are you calling me short?

dr. murphy: Hey, guys, relax, all right? We’re all here for the same reason: to kill and possibly eat Simon.

murderer: (Sighs.) You’re right. I’m sorry.

chucky: Yeah . . . me too. I kind of lost perspective.

dr. murphy: It’s okay. Just remember: we’re all in this together.

dead uncle: Hey, it looks like he’s getting up! Wait a minute . . . where’s he going?

chucky: I think he’s running into his mom’s room!

dead uncle: Maybe we should follow him?

chucky: Are you insane? I’m not facing that kid’s mother. That woman is terrifying!

murderer: Seriously, there is no way I’m going in there.

freddy krueger: (Sighs.) I guess tonight’s a bust. Let’s try tomorrow, okay? Same time, same place.

If adults were subjected to the same indignities as children


zoe: Dad, I’m throwing a party tonight, so you’ll have to stay in your room. Don’t worry, though: one of my friends brought over his father for you to play with. His name is Comptroller Brooks and he’s about your age, so I’m sure you’ll have lots in common. I’ll come check on you in a couple of hours. (Leaves.)

comptroller brooks: Hello.

mr. higgins: Hello.

comptroller brooks: So . . . um . . . do you follow city politics?

mr. higgins: Not really.

comptroller brooks: Oh.

(long pause)

(Zoe returns.)

zoe: I forgot to tell you: I told my friends you’d perform for them after dinner. I’ll come get you when it’s time. (Leaves.)

comptroller brooks: Oh God, what are we going to do?

mr. higgins: I know a dance . . . but it’s pretty humiliating.

comptroller brooks: Just teach it to me.

From the Hardcover edition.
Simon Rich

About Simon Rich

Simon Rich - Free-Range Chickens

Photo © Adrian Kinloch


 Simon Rich has written for The New Yorker, GQ, Mad, The Harvard Lampoon and other magazines. He is the author of two humor collections, Free-Range Chickens and Ant Farm, which was a finalist for the 2008 Thurber Prize for American Humor. He lives in Brooklyn and writes for Saturday Night Live. He is twenty-five.


“A punch-and-jab gigglefest . . . that delivers a laugh on every page.”—Publishers Weekly

“Simon Rich is still the freshest, funniest new writer today.”—Chicago Sun-Times

  • Free-Range Chickens by Simon Rich
  • May 12, 2009
  • Humor - Parodies; Humor; Humor - Essays
  • Random House Trade Paperbacks
  • $13.00
  • 9780812977110

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