STRANGE BOOK DESIGN AND LACKLUSTER STORIES
This book appears to be part of a series of "Best American" collections (not the well-known series published each year collecting the best short stories, essays, sports writing, etc. that always pertain to a single year, which is part of the title) of writings on a general subject covering a period of years, e.g., sports, politics, etc.. This book is intended to collect best humorous short stories published from 1839 to 1914. The editor, Alexander Jessup, writes a long and somewhat tedious introduction, followed immediately (i.e., on the next line following his printed name at the end of the introduction) by a list of Contents.
None of the stories are particularly humorous, including Twain's "Celebrated Jumping Frog," and the earlier ones have language that is so far removed from present vernacular that much of the stories were to me unintelligible.
The most difficult problem with the book, however, is the fact that there are no page breaks, no centered titles, no separation whatever between one story and the next. From the first word of the Introduction to the last word of the last story, not a single line is left blank, making the book seem like an exercise in absolute frugality, being printed in the fewest possible pages and in type so small that 55 lines are on each page of trade paper dimensions. There is no copyright page, no colophon, no index, no publisher and no date of publication. On a last page is a cryptic reference to a Consumer Product Safety site that purports to enable you to decipher from the cryptic reference the place (publisher) and date of publication, but I was unable to follow the directions for interpretation of the meager data in the end reference.
In my view this book is difficult to read and contains antiquated attempts at humor that make reading it a waste of time.