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Cigarette Lighter


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Table of Contents

Prologue 1. Taming Fire 2. Age of the Lighter 3. Lighter vs. Match 4. Cars 5. The Lighter in Literature and Popular Culture 6. Romance and Death: Cigarette Lighters Today Index

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An eclectic and poetic exploration of the cigarette lighter and its association with romance, magic, art, science, immortality and death in literature and popular culture.

About the Author

Jack Pendarvis has published essays, book reviews, interviews and stories in McSweeney's, The LA Review of Books, and the New York Times. He is a former columnist for The Believer and The Oxford American and is the author of two books of short stories and a novel. He recently received an Emmy for his work on the Peabody Award-winning show Adventure Time.


I didn't realize how much I needed this book. It brought back terrible memories of an uncle dead in Vietnam, nothing but his Zippos to imagine him by, and the beautiful boy who broke my heart, leaving me with a carpenter pencil and a tiny lighter I could hang from my keychain (though I never did; that would have been much too painful). And that's just the start! Cigarette Lighter is worth it for the index alone, but there's so much more. Like this gem: 'Your cigarette lighter represents your soul, so you get drunk and give it away to your pal, or your pal steals it without compunction. Either way, you can't hang onto it forever.' Ah, such is life. * Mary Miller, author of The Last Days of California *
This book is a Zippo fueled by the remarkable mind of Jack Pendarvis. A blend of histories-movies and TV, war and cars-Cigarette Lighter is so good I took up smoking. * Chris Offutt, author of My Father, the Pornographer *
Cleverly disguising itself as a Rabelaisian account of the cigarette lighter in our films and in our lives, this raucous object lesson takes as its real subject, the indefatigable Ted Ballard-octogenarian, curator of the former National Lighter Museum in Guthrie, Oklahoma, collector, misanthrope, raconteur, and consummate charmer-and becomes, in the end, a sly meditation on impermanence, wherein, in the words of Jack Pendarvis, the lighter finds out what the match already knows. * Pam Houston, author of Contents May Have Shifted *

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