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Q: Seeking author & text of a humor piece, "A (or The) Cliche Expert Testifies ... ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   3 Comments )
Subject: Seeking author & text of a humor piece, "A (or The) Cliche Expert Testifies ...
Category: Arts and Entertainment > Books and Literature
Asked by: smit3-ga
List Price: $5.00
Posted: 12 Mar 2003 17:23 PST
Expires: 11 Apr 2003 18:23 PDT
Question ID: 175391
I'm seeking the author's name and the full text of a short piece of
humor entitled, "A (or The) Cliche Expert Testifies on the Atom."  I
read this piece in a humor anthology in the early-to-mid 1960s.  I
believe there was a whole series of humorous pieces with similar
titles, e.g., "The Cliche Expert Testifies on War," etc.  The nearest
I've come to success in my own fairly extensive on-line searching was
in the Library of Congress on-line catalog, where I found a reference
to a humor anthology, dated 1969, containing a piece titled "The
Cliche Expert Testifies on War" attributed to an author "F. Sullivan."
 I have not seen the text of this piece, but the author's name, F.
Sullivan, does not strike me as the same as the author of the specific
piece I'm looking for, i.e., "A/The Cliche Expert Testifies on the
Atom," although I cannot rule out the possibility that it is the same

Request for Question Clarification by luciaphile-ga on 15 Mar 2003 11:32 PST
Hi smit3-ga,

I've got the author's name. I know where the piece can be found.
However, you mention you want full text and unfortunately, after
extensive searching it appears that the piece is not online full text.

Because of copyright restrictions, I wouldn't be able to transcribe it
for you. What I could do is give you all the information you'd need to
be able to get your hands on it. Would that be acceptable?


Clarification of Question by smit3-ga on 15 Mar 2003 13:37 PST
In response to luciaphile-ga's request for clarification dated 3/15,
yes, I agree that what you're proposing would be satisfactory.  By the
way, after a little more digging on my own (with the help of earlier
comments), I'm convinced that the author almost certainly is indeed
Frank Sullivan (1892-1976), and suspect the piece I'm looking for must
be in either Fierce Pajamas or another book I found on Amazon entitled
Frank Sullivan at His Best.  Am I right?  At any rate, I posted this
question partly as an experiment to see how this process works, and so
far I'm quite pleased.  Bottom line ... yes, I'll be happy to pay up
the $5 for your information ... assuming, of course, that it really
does lead me to the right piece!
Subject: Re: Seeking author & text of a humor piece, "A (or The) Cliche Expert Testifies ...
Answered By: luciaphile-ga on 16 Mar 2003 10:11 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hi smit3-ga,

Thanks for your question.

Mr. Arbuthnot, more familiarly known as "the cliche expert" was the
creation of writer, Frank Sullivan (1892-1976). Sullivan was a member
of the original Algonquin Round Table and had an association with the
New Yorker that lasted over half a century.

Guide to the Frank Sullivan Collection: 1910-1972

The piece "The Cliche Expert Testifies on the Atom" originally
appeared in the New Yorker in 1945. The complete citation is as

"The Cliche Expert Testifies on the Atom," by Frank Sullivan. The New
Yorker, vol. 21, November 7, 1945, pp. 27-9.

The story has probably been anthologized in other collections. I found
it in Frank Sullivan's "A Rock in Every Snowball." The collection also
contains 4 other Cliche Expert stories.

"A Rock in Every Snowball," by Frank Sullivan. New York: Little, Brown
& Company, 1946.

While this book is no longer in print, there are used copies available
beginning at $5.95 thru Alibris and beginning at $2.50 thru

Rock in Every Snowball/Alibris

Rock in Every Snowball/Bookfinder,yNyY_4565340120_1:54:72

If you aren't interested in purchasing the book, you might try seeing
if your public library has a copy.

"Fierce Pajamas," which you mentioned, doesn't contain the cliche
expert piece you're looking for. The Amazon page has images of the
Table of Contents. As juggler-ga explains in his comment, it does have
"The Cliche Expert Tells All" and "The Cliche Expert Takes the Stand,"
so if you become interested in tracking down all the Cliche Expert
stories, you're off to a good start.

Part of the reason you probably did not come across this using the
Library of Congress catalog is that short stories are not always
included in catalog records, particularly for older records.

Google search:
"cliche expert" 
arbuthnot "cliche expert"
"frank sullivan"
Various library OPACS
Print sources:
Readers' Guide to Periodical Literature (to see where the story was
published and when)
Short Story Index

I hope this answers your question. If you require additional
information or if the links do not work, please ask for clarification
before rating my answer and I'll do my best to assist you.

smit3-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $3.00
This was my "maiden voyage" as a user of Google Answers, and I'm very
pleased, not only with the concept, but also with the execution of the
process.  A great idea!  The answer is all I could have hoped for, and
educational, to boot.  Thanks!

Subject: Re: Seeking author & text of a humor piece, "A (or The) Cliche Expert Testifies ...
From: cryptica-ga on 12 Mar 2003 20:42 PST
It may very well be Frank Sullivan. I had a thought it might be Robert
Benchley, so typed "Benchley" and "cliche expert" into Google and up
came sites listing famous humorists, including Benchley and a mention
of Frank "The Cliche Expert" Sullivan.  This led to the recent
collection of reprints of old New Yorker humor essays, FIERCE PAJAMAS.
 Looking at the description on, it talks about the series
of pieces by Frank "The Cliche Expert" Sullivan.  It doesn't list what
they are, nor are there excerpts.  But this sure looks like a strong
Subject: Re: Seeking author & text of a humor piece, "A (or The) Cliche Expert Testifies
From: juggler-ga on 12 Mar 2003 21:13 PST
In the book mentioned by cryptica-ga, the two stories are:

"The Cliche Expert Takes the Stand"
"The Cliche Expert Tells All"

The "atom" story is not included, apparently.
Subject: Re: Seeking author & text of a humor piece, "A (or The) Cliche Expert Testifies ...
From: stressedmum-ga on 12 Mar 2003 21:43 PST
Frank Sullivan wrote a series of essays for "The New Yorker" during
1935 and 1952. It might be worth searching through their archives for
the atom essay. Good luck :)

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