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August 20, 1995|CHARLES SOLOMON

REMEMBER LAUGHTER: A Life of James Thurber by Neil A. Grauer (University of Nebraska Press: $10.; 204 pp., illustrated). Although he ranks among the greatest American humorists, James Thurber did not have a happy life, nor was he a particularly nice man. The scion of a decidedly eccentric family (one of his aunts really did leave her valuables outside her door at night, fearing that burglars would blow chloroform under her door, as he described in "The Night the Bed Fell"), Thurber suffered from numerous physical ailments. He was also a mean drunk, inclined to bouts of paranoia and soaring vanity. Grauer has assembled a concise, readable biography that emphasizes his subject's unique talent without whitewashing his faults.

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