Sloth

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 258

The self-help guides that fill whole bookstore sections, some library shelves, and the personal libraries of millions of Americans and enlarge the cults of television and radio gurus are the targets of lampoon, parody, and satire as Wendy Wasserstein casts a cold eye upon diet fads, manic weightlifting, life-changing regimens, cosmetic surgery, and pandemic over-achievement in her paean to Sloth. Part of the New York Public Library's lecture series on the Seven Deadly Sins, Sloth represents a series of invited conversations/monologues on this one sin by Wendy Wasserstein, one of America's leading playwrights.

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Wasserstein's comedic sword is two-edged, making fun of fadists who aim to improve themselves and those around them, and slashing away at the amateur sloths who practice selective laziness. Her chapters, “Sloth Plan,” and “Sloth Will Change Your Life” are brilliant examples that provoke laughter despite the stated intent to avoid such excitement. In fact, reading the book is one of the last efforts a truly slothful person will undertake. The remaining two chapters of Part One are a riotous “Personal History” that outdoes the genre's effusive testimonials and a hilarious “The Concise History of Sloth” which decries the historical persecution of the slothful and demonstrates that the Eager Beaver should have listened to the Sloth.

Part Two is the How To Do It Manual for the would-be slothful, including advice on how to get started, how to recognize and deal with plateaus, how to build a maintenance program, how to achieve überslothdom and a handy Activity Gram Counter to help keep life activity-free.

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