“Pricks of the Quill”

On a date with beloved… book. 1998
Photo by V. Akhlomov.

“As a child, I dreamed of becoming Gogol. I didn’t even dream of becoming Knyshev.”
The Author is reading his future book to his future readers.

“This is my third book.

I decided not to write the second one.”

This epigraph was prefaced by Andrey Knyshev for his next, following the Also a Book”, collection of “knyshutki”-jokes, stories and parodies, entitled “Pricks of the Quill” (1998), which also has the subtitle “Help to the laugh-beginners”. However, the word “collection” is fundamentally wrong – the Author never “collected” these jokes, as collectors of folklore or anecdotes do. Every line in his books is the Author’s, invented by himself, or accidentally “flew out of his head”, and if collected, then from the fields of his day-planners and notebooks, on the sidelines of his creative path, and folded for the time being in creative stash boxes. Therefore, Knyshev spoils the reader with books not too often. “Books I never write”, says the Author, – “As I accumulate some stuff – that seems like a book is ready.”

Traditionally, the “Pricks of the Quill” as well as his first book, precedes the Preface of the writer Arkady Arkanov, and closes his Afterword, that eminent satirist named in the gastronomic style: “Foretaste” and “Aftertaste”. This did not seem enough to the publishers, and a few warm words about the Author were added by Grigory Gorin, Valentin Gaft and Igor Guberman.

In addition to many short “knyshutki” and jokes, the Author tried out new genres in the book, such as “Horoscope”, an interview (“Conversation”), “Sonnet” in prose, came up with a hilarious list of non-existent animals and other creatures (“Eco-Wonders”), published excerpts from his working “TV notebooks” and several very serious “Mini-Maxims”, parodied “News” in Americanised Russian “newspeak”, and continued his trademark “Quite an Explanatory Dictionary”, “Life of great people”, remembered “Several cases from the life of Mr. “N.”, successfully translated a whole page of his jokes into English; he wrote something about absolute “Nothing” and even made a scathing review of his own book (“Tickle of the Quill”). In the book, you can see the Author in miniature photos of different years, and many other interesting things.

In this book Knyshev’s fans can enjoy the ageless “Rating of 200 pleasures”, a “fundamental” work of the Author, a parody of scientific research, in which all numbered pleasures and joys of the mind, soul and body are fantasmagorically intertwined, from the roughest and simplest to the refined and sublime. In the finale, they all merge into an apotheosis, a psycho-physiological hymn to the human ego and his body. “Long live the organism – the bright future of all mankind!» the Author summarizes. And here again, you can’t argue with him.

The book was also a success, and was reprinted twice. Much, if not all of it is not outdated, and sometimes some phrases from “Pricks of the Quill”, as well as from his other books, are posted on the Internet in the context of today’s realities, as if the Author has just responded to the burning topics of the day. Well, is the phrase outdated: “Thanks to television, now a fool sees a fool from afar”, or “The people follow the history of their country with interest”, or “Over the years, you notice that there are more and more young people around”.

If, on the contrary, reading it, you suddenly exclaim: “I have heard this many times! This is the people’s word!” – so Knyshev could rightfully say in the words of the hero of Andrey Platonov’s book: “Without me, the people are incomplete!»

The following “Pricks of the Quill” his illustrated almanac “Table Calendar for One Hundred Years”, was released in 3 years, and then, (still not waiting a hundred years), Knyshev issued another, recent by his standards, innovative book “Squats and Tiptoes”, almost a decade and a half later, while doing other creative things – making radio channel, shooting programs, traveling around the world, coming up with original construction ideas, composing music.

But maybe it’s a good thing that the Author releases books infrequently, as they say, rarely but aptly.

Without any hurry Andrey Knyshev makes you laugh, and with no rush he remains modern.




(excerpts from the “Pricks of the Quill”, 1998)

* Our comedies are bad. Luckily, we don’t have a lot of them.

* In the former USSR there was very high IQ, you queue, they queue, – everybody queued…

* New Russians are making a new sense out of Russia. A new sense or a nuisance?

* Two persons are standing in a lobby waiting for somebody. The first one is a huge fat man. Another one is a small sporty guy. The small guy studies the big man for a while and asks him respectfully:

– Weight-lifting?

– No, lift-waiting.

* “EmpTV”.

* “I’m in a deep relationshit.”

* If we meet again, it will mean that I lost my way.

* If the laurel is too big for your head, it becomes a hoola-hoop, and you have to keep your butt really busy.

* It began with “All right!” and ended with “All rise!”

* He aimed a gun saying: – I’m gonna miss you…

* Do we live in media-evil times?

* The beauty contest for sexual minorities: “Miss Mister”.

* The title for a biographical book: “Nothing personal”.


* Don’t hurry to hell. They won’t start without you.

* Unfortunately, I have just one little vice. But don’t worry: I also have lots of big ones.

* Rulers can never make a deal with the people, because it is always the same story: either new rulers or new people.

* Alas, the nobility has no ability.

* Adults are only fallen children.

* Sometimes we recognize ourselves in our children. But it’s already too late.

* Lightening breaks the highest trees.

* The evilution of humankind.

* A child is a tiny creature with the face of a man, that still remembers that he is going to live forever.

* Keep working on yourself in order to become as good as possible by the time you die.

* – Why are you so clever?

– I’ve read all my own works.

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