The Middle-Aged Man on the Flying Trapeze contains a collection of 36 stories and essays, as well as illustrations, created by humorist James Thurber. Many of the tales focus on married life, usually an unhappy marriage, but always told with a slight bit of dark comedy. Like Mr. Premble Gets Rid of His Wife, in which said Mr. Premble decides to run away with his secretary. She agrees but on the condition that he kill his wife. The problem is that he can't bring himself to do it until his wife walks him through the process, step by step, nagging him the whole time. Or The Curb in the Sky which has Charlie Deshler trying to break his wife's habit of finishing every sentence - whether or not she's correct. Other stories provide funny glimpses into life in the 1930s, such as The Greatest Man in the World about a man who flies non-stop around the world, though he's definitely not who the government would want to be a hero; or even offer "how to" advice, such as How To See a Bad Play which laments the same stale techniques some playwrights use to convey emotion.
I found myself smiling more and more with each story. And I think I needed that respite from all the gloom and doom I usually read.
The Middle-Aged Man on the Flying Trapeze
by James Thurber
The Universal Library (1935)
softcover, 227 pgs.