So it was original content which finally convinced me to plunge into e-reading. And my next project was a variation on that theme.

I’ve subscribed to “The Walrus” since the beginning, so it’s more than likely that I’ve read the pieces gathered in 10 Years of The Walrus Laughs.

Walrus LaughsBut browsing through the catalogue of Coach House Books, I was intrigued by the page of Walrus e-books. (You can purchase at either site.)

And it was wintry outside and the world a shade-of-dull: laughing sounded good.

Some of the other works I recognized immediately too, beyond this collection which so deliberately piqued my interest.

Some of them I knew to be outstanding, although I can no longer remember if I first read them in the magazine or in a collection published later or simultaneously.

And even though I do keep a lot of back-issues of the magazines that I subscribe to, the idea of having particular short pieces gathered together in an e-pub has an immediate appeal.

On a side-note, the idea of recommending certain individual pieces also has a strong appeal. Take Zsuzsi Gartner’s stunning “Summer of the Flesh Eater”. An author whose style tends to solidly divide readers, unsettling and disorienting in all the best ways with her gob-smacking use of language. (Here are my thoughts on her Giller Prize shortlisted collection, which also includes this story.)

What better way to dabble in an author’s work – and still support their craft – than to have a single short work available for such a small sum and tempt readers into sampling.

What better way to amend your own collection. I snipped the copy of Margaret Atwood’s “I Dream of Zenia with the Bright Red Teeth” from the magazine and slipped it into my copy of The Robber Bride, where the characters could get reacquainted.

But we all know how likely it is that those pages will maintain their position. The next time I take the book from the shelf to re-read, I will set that story aside, to keep it “safe”, perhaps even put it someplace clever, until I finish my re-read. But an e-copy of the tale (you do miss those characters too, right?) can be tidily filed away as a back-up. How useful.

Now, back to the giggles. For as much as the idea of the individual stories appeals (and undoubtedly I will explore those too, in time), the Laughs volume issued an invitation.  The contributors include: Rebecca Addelman, Pasha Malla, Jacob Pacey, Wendy Dennis, and Marni Jackson, . The pieces were originally published between July/August 2005 and December 2009.

In “It’s about Time”, watch as a man attempts to remedy his tardiness by setting his clock a few minutes early. At least, that’s the plan, but as is often the way in comedy, in life, things get out of hand.

In “At the Whisky Tasting”, I am reminded why Pasha Malla is one of my favourite writers. Here is his description of tasting a particular single malt: “Greek salad, souvlaki, french fries, onion rings, kethup, root beer, Peanut Buster Parfait. Oh, wait – that’s what I had for dinner. After the first sip I barfed a little in my mouth.”

He also contributes the final piece in the collection: “The Obstetric”. In describing ‘Katie’ who, he has been told looks like her dad, he writes: “Really, a female infant who somehow resembles a grown man? ‘Hey Dan, have a beer…oh, whoops, sorry Katie, thought you were your dad; here, play with this stapler.”

The “Diary of a Nine-year-old Kevin O’Leary” is just as billed, including observations like “Seriously, the cafeteria is in a prime location – you could train a monkey to make that place profitable” and “Someone has to worry about inflation, and somehow inflation and a trip to the Canadian Mint are funny.

“Married with Husbands” is a pitch for a new one-hour television series in which Rachel opts to accumulate additional husbands, having been inspired by an episode of “Big Love”. It’s an interesting experiment, but “what Rachel doesn’t anticipate is the fatal flaw of reverse polygamy”. (In the section with character sketches, the pitching writer explains that Rachel’s role model is Mordecai Richler.)

In “My Living Media Will”, the document contains instructions as to footwear in the camera shots. “I couldn’t believe what they had on the Pope’s feet, for all the world to see – could they not find some appropriate, gold-trimmed, red velvet papal slippers? No, they went with brown Italian loafers, as if he had just come from a coffee bar!”

If I could purchase a print copy of a Walrus Reader, which contained the same pieces, I likely would do so. (Like the new Brick Reader: woot!) But, in the meantime, these new reading habits don’t hurt a bit. Tomorrow, more original digital temptations.

What have you read lately that has made you laugh? Are you trying on any new habits this week yourself?