"Side Effects" is a collection of short stories, mostly humorous, written by Woody Allen. It was published in 1980, and includes short stories previously published over the previous few years. The material presented in the book is an anthology, with the stories being unrelated, and also being diverse in tone and content. Some of the stories are straight absurd humor, while others are more realistic in content and delivery. Of course, one thing the stories they all have in common is that they are written by Woody Allen, so they tend to deal with Jewish life in New York, and with relationships and feelings of angst.

The biggest thing I was curious about when reading the book was to see whether Allen was a Hollywood intellectual or a "real" intellectual. I know that by the standards of popular movies, (as opposed to purely art house films), Allen is considered to be an extremely intellectual movie maker. However, the standards of Hollywood movies on the whole are not very high. When I read Steve Martin's book, I found his attempts to be edgy and intellectually provoking a bit forced.

Overall, I would say that these stories show that Woody Allen's intellectual background is passably broad and deep. The clever dialogue and turns of phrase in the shorter stories, and the character development and plotting in the longer stories, show that Allen is a good writer in the short story medium, not just in movie scripting. However, while Allen does show himself to be well enough informed in philosophy and culture, he also doesn't make any great leaps, either stylistically or philosophically. But this may be just that it would be out of character for either Allen or the people he writes about to transcend their situation. He writes about people who are trapped by their emotions and live in an insecure universe, so it would not make sense for either him or his characters to cut the Gordian Knot of existential angst.

So, over all, outside of the craft of movie making, Allen is still a talented writer, but not ground breaking in the way he is when making movies.

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Well, this marks my 1000th node here at E2 in a period that spans 11 or so years. I suppose I could do a decaversery interview but since I’m in a reflective mood I thought that this would be more personal.

I don’t know where to even begin to describe my own personal E2 side effects. I do know that over the past 11 years that I’ve become a much better person as a result of my experience here and I have all of you noders, past, present and future to thank for that. You’ve been here and showed support during my ups and downs and have even provided me with the occasional swift kick in the ass when it was needed.

It’s hard for me to believe that a website could have such a profound effect on my life. If you’d have asked me 11 years ago if I’d still be here trying to contribute I’d have probably said “No way!” But, here I am, still plugging away in search of writing that ever elusive perfect node.

In a way, I hope I never do.

It’s just one of the myriad of reasons that keep me coming back.


Bob and Anna

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