“Back in Line” (E32)

  • Originally printed: Liberty Magazine, November 22, 1930
  • First reprinted in: No Poems; Or Around the World Backwards and Sideways (1932)
  • Unable to compare reprint with original text – Liberty Historical Archives not available at Toronto Public Library
  • Original Byline: unknown


Your postage may vary on this one, which has been reprinted no less than 5 times. An anti-systematic thinker in every sense of that term, Benchley’s pen could sometimes stumble a little too stolidly into the American grain, producing flaccid, Paul Harvey style kvetching about bureaucracy, taxation and the government. I’m sure many readers appreciate the respite from cosmic irony afforded by these hard headed little salvos against the temporal tyrannies of the Leviathan state, but I could do without them.

This particular piece takes on the “Simon Says” sadism of post office parcel regulations, and while RB gets in a few decent jabs against the machine, the litany rarely rises very far above the level of imaginative amplitude one associates with a vindictive Yelp poster.

Favourite Moment:
“Although bundles of old unpaid bills are about all anyone will be sending this Christmas, it doesn’t make any difference to the P.O. Department. A package is a package, and you must suffer for it.”

2 thoughts on ““Back in Line” (E32)

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