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This volume is a new-ish (2006) paperback offering from Penguin, containing the works of esteemed poet-cockroach Archy in an all-new format, arranged chronologically and with some additional material according to the poems' original appearances in Don Marquis' daily newspaper column (yes, such things existed once. They were like blogs for grownups). Apparently, many of the pieces are previously unpublished, or only rarely published. Sounds good, right?

Unfortunately, I cannot recommend the book at all — without at any time acknowledging it, the collection is bereft of much of the best material, pieces of the first water such as The Wail of Archy. I am not enough of an Archyologist to know whether this is because they only appeared in the book collections of the following decade, thus placing themselves outside the columnar scope of the book, or because the editor, flush with power, excised with a free hand according to some inscrutable personal æsthetic at odds with common sanity — or perhaps, indeed, because the later poems are still under copyright? The book does conspicuously stop with the year 1922, despite Marquis being at that point a very recent recruit to the Tribune, largely on the strength of his popular insect. Howsobeit, the collection is mutilated and incomplete, and as such, this is a completist's volume (and certainly, I am a completist). The reader should start with Archy and Mehitabel, and then Archy's Life of Mehitabel, at the very least, before considering this book.

P.S.: The use of capitalization throughout is deliberate. Archy himself requests it outright on at least one occasion; only his own inability to use the key shift keeps him from capitalizing himself, and he does not take the mere refusal kindly in others.


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