'America's finest news source', the Onion, has assembled an omnibus of every issue of the spoof weekly paper published between October 2000 and October 2001. The Onion ad Nauseam: Complete News Archives Volume 13 (Boxtree, £12.99) is the first of what is expected to be many such annuals. It includes the famous post-11 September issue: 'US vows to defeat whoever it is we're at war with'; 'Hijackers surprised to find selves in hell'; 'American life turns into bad Jerry Bruckheimer movie'; 'Massive attack on Pentagon page 14 news', and the one after: 'A shattered nation longs to care about stupid bullshit again.' There's also extensive coverage of the Presidential election that brought Bush to power: 'Nation plunges into chaos: pro-Bush rebels seize power in West; DC in Flames'; 'Clinton declares self President for life'; 'Bush executes 253 New Mexico Democrats.' And once he was in the White House: 'Bush - "Our long national nightmare of peace and prosperity is finally over."' The opening story in the compendium is 'Half-naked Kissinger thrown out of US News & World Report Mansion': 'Hank . . . just had a few too many Harvey Wallbangers, and we had to send him home. Nobody knows how to go off the deep end like the Kiss-Man.' The Onion doesn't only concern itself with global affairs and characters of international stature. The Kiss-Man jostles for column inches with Area Man, as in 'Area man unsure what to do with all the extra ketchup packets', or 'Local man exhausted after long day of video games'. The paper was started in Madison, Wisconsin, in the late 1980s. It went online a decade later, and more recently its offices have relocated to New York. There were those who feared the metropolitanisation would blunt its edge: you can see for yourself whether or not this is true by visiting www.theonion.com (I can't at the moment, thanks to the ever unreliable demon.co.uk, Internet disservice provider to the unwary).
LRB 12 December 2002 | PDF Download