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Perelman Writings by S. J. Perelman

Read Online Perelman Writings by S. J. Perelman Classics Book 

Overview: Adam Gopnik presents the very best of S. J. Perelman, America's zaniest humorist.

S. J. Perelman (1904-1979) wrote for the Marx Brothers films Horse Feathers and Monkey Business and won an Oscar for his screenwriting on Around the World in Eighty Days, but he remains best known for his many sketches and essays penned for The New Yorker during its golden age of humor. In these short comic pieces--Perelman called them feuilletons--his penchant for wordplay, witticism, spoofery, self-deprecation, and plain zaniness are on full display. The New York Times once noted his ability in these magazine pieces "to transform the common cliché or figure of speech into an exploding cigar."

Author and New Yorker staff writer Adam Gopnik has selected the very best of them, including his parodies of books and films, his biting social satire, autobiographical pieces, and a selection from the celebrated Cloudland Revisited series, in which Perelman reminisces nostalgically about books and movies encountered in youth before describing in his inimitable hyperkinetic style the rude shock of revisiting them as an adult.

Also included in this volume are the acclaimed play The Beauty Part (1963) from Perelman's Broadway career; profiles of the Marx Brothers, Dorothy Parker, and his brother-in-law Nathanael West; a selection of letters written to correspondents such as Groucho Marx and Paul Theroux; and a garland of Perelman's witticisms strung together by Adam Gopnik.

 

Read Online Perelman Writings by S. J. Perelman Book Chapter One Free. Find Hear Best Classics Books And Novel For Reading And Download.
Perelman Writings by S. J. Perelman

Read Online Perelman Writings by S. J. Perelman Book Chapter One

Puppets of Passion:
A Throbbing Story of Youth’s Hot Revolt Against the Conventions

DAWN GINSBERGH lay in her enormous sixteenth-century four-poster bed and played tag with her blood pressure.
Oh, it was so good to be alive on this glorious May morning instead of being dead or something. Dawn, you must know, was very fond of being alive. In fact, as she used to remark to Nicky Nussbaum, the most devoted of her lovers:
“I would rather be alive than be Alderman.”
Such was Dawn Ginsbergh, impetuous dashing Dawn of the flame-taunted hair and scarlet lips bee-stung like violet pools and so on at ten cents a word for a page and a half.
With a lazy hand composed of five tapering manicured fingers Dawn reached over to a small table by her bed and picked up a dainty chiffon handkerchief. She folded it several times and tied it securely around her eyes. Then she groped about and lit several cigarettes, inhaling long breaths of smoke. Ah, there it was, sure enough—an Old Mould, her favorite brand, which she could distinguish from the others even blindfolded. She removed the bandage and lay blowing thin spirals of smoke at the chandelier. How like a chandelier was her life, she thought; and the familiar lines of the poet came again to her in all their intensity:


“I burn my chandelier at both ends.
It will not last the night . . .”
She looked around at the immense room that was her bedroom. It was, she reflected, large enough for the whole Sixty-ninth Regiment. To tell the truth, the Sixty-ninth Regiment was in the room, in undress uniform. Dawn was like that, unconventional.
A knock on the door aroused Dawn from her lethargy. She hastily slipped it off and donned an abstraction. This was Dawn, flitting lightly from lethargy to abstraction and back to precipice again. Or from Beethoven to Bach and Bach to Bach again.
It was her mother, Mrs. Wharton Ginsbergh-Margolies, a slim nervous woman, nervous like a manatee or Firpo. She wore her hair piled high on her head, an odd place one must agree. But then the Ginsberghs were all iconoclasts. They never gave a whoop. When Dawn, at five, had come down with the whooping-cough, not a whoop did she give. Perversely, she broke out with the yellow jack. But she lived.
“Dawn!” It was her mother.
“Yes, Uncle Nate,” replied Dawn stretching lazily like a great tawny cat. Dawn always called her mother Uncle Nate—ask me why.
“Dawn, how can you lie in bed with those three suitors waiting hours already to propose to you?”
Dawn made a little moue of distaste. It did not satisfy her, so she made another, then still another. She lay there making moues while her mother stood there getting grayer all the time.
“Dawn, stop making moues and get dressed. Remember, time and tide waits for no man.”
“What the heck has the —— —— tide got to do with it?” inquired Dawn, “What do I look like, an oyster-dredge?”
“I will oyster-dredge you, you momzer,” said her mother. “Come on, get into your clothes!” And she slammed the door.
II
The eyes of her three suitors followed Dawn as she swept gracefully down the stairs into the early Ludwig Baumann drawing-room. She was a slim little thing, mostly eyes. There was even an eye in the middle of her back, not to mention one on her left leg. The three suitors spoke together.
“Dawn!”
She regarded them disdainfully. Nicky Nussbaum, tall, dashing, soldierly Nicky, leader of the Pants Gang; DuBois Mos­kovicz of the Foreign Legation, and Hastings Berman, the great portrait painter, any one of them an ideal catch. They stood there with worshipping eyes, holding their hearts out to Dawn; and she trod airily upon them with her high French heels. It was Nicky who was the first to speak.
“Dawn, come with me. I will give you villas in Firenze, châteaux at Nice, estancias in the Banda Oriental, shooting-boxes in Scotland, and castles in Wales. I will deck you in cloth-of-gold, drape you with rare jewels. I will——” But the courtly diplomat Moskovicz had interrupted him.
“Do you long to mingle amidst the gay throngs at Ascot, to rub shoulders with England’s nobility, to be smart, smart, SMART? Do you desire to be amongst those seen at Long­champs, Melton Mowbray, the Lido, St. Moritz, the Danish Duck Shoot? Then come with me on the ‘Aquazonia,’ sailing July twelfth for Cherbourg!”
“Stop!” cut in Hastings Berman, impatiently. “Throw aside this stifling artificial existence and as my bride share my carefree Bohemian existence, roistering by night in Montmartre and Chelsea, posing as my model by day; we shall dream away our days in some tiny Breton village, or tiring of that, take lessons in basket-weaving at the Barbizon school.”
Dawn, heavy-lidded of eye, yawned. How many thousands of times had she heard these same proposals. She reached for another cigarette and three lighters flared. A voice, a cool masculine voice, startled them.
“Pardon me, lady, but I thought this was the kitchen.”
They turned around, these three lovers, to behold a clean-limbed young man with laughing blue eyes and wind-tossed hair. He bore a huge cake of ice on his shoulder. Dawn was staring at him, a wild thought forming in her mind. In an instant she had crossed the floor like a livid moonbeam.
“What do you do for a living, buddy?” she asked tensely.
“I am an iceman,” he replied simply.
“Are you—are you married?” asked Dawn and there was a catch in her throat.
“No,” was the bewildered answer.
“Listen,” said Dawn in a low fierce voice, “will you marry me?”
“Why, sure, ma’am, but I’m not very rich—I——”
“That doesn’t matter,” exclaimed Dawn hurriedly, “I have millions.” She turned to her astounded lovers.
“Gentlemen,” she said with a satirical bow, “meet my future husband—er, what did you say your name was?”
“Moe Feinbloom,” replied the youth, with a pardonable blush.
“Gentlemen, my future husband, Marvin Furbish,” said Dawn, her eyes mocky, and she kissed the young man full on the mouth.
“Oh, Marvin, I’m so happy,” she breathed. “I knew you were the man when you walked in through that door! And after we’re married, I’ll go along with you on the route and help you carry the ice into the kitchens, won’t I?”
There was a moment of perplexed silence. Moe scratched his head slowly.
“Sure, lady,” he replied doubtfully. “But who’ll hold the horse?”

 

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