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Most of the Most of S.J. Perelman (Modern Library Humor and Wit) Paperback


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Product Details

  • Series: Modern Library Humor and Wit
  • Paperback: 572 pages
  • Publisher: Modern Library (May 30, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679640371
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679640370
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.4 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #75,259 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

From a letter from Groucho Marx to S. J. Perelman: "From the moment I picked up your book until I put it down, I was convulsed with laughter. Some day I intend reading it."

"The funniest writer since--himself."--Gore Vidal

From the Inside Flap

This book includes many of the greatest hits from 1930 to 1958--available only in this edition--by the devastatingly witty Perelman, the leading figure of The New Yorker magazine's golden age of humor and one of the most popular American humorists ever. In these hilarious pieces, the charmingly cranky Perelman turns his scathing attention to books, movies, New York socialites, the newspaper business, country life, travel, Hollywood, the publishing industry, and, last but not least, himself. His self-portrait: "Under a forehead roughly comparable to . . . Piltdown Man are visible a pair of tiny pig eyes, lit up alternately by greed and concupiscence. . . . Before they made S. J. Perelman, they broke the mold." Sophisticated and supremely mischievous, Perelman is an acrobat of language who turns a phrase and then, before the reader has time to finish admiring his agility, turns it again.

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Customer Reviews

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See all 13 customer reviews
This book has kept my spirits up over some very tough times.
Max A. Lebow
Woody Allen said that reading Perelman was detrimental to a young writer because then your own work begins to mimic his.
Joseph Guyer
This is a writer who simply delights in making all of mankind seem as if we are one big foible of fun.
Shalom Freedman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Ricky Hunter on March 28, 2002
Format: Paperback
Most of the Most of S.J. Perelman (part of the Humor and Wit series of Modern Library) is a lengthy, though abridged, volume of the Perelman pieces from 1930 - 1958, many of which originally appeared in the New Yorker, among other magazines. This book should not necessarily be read straight through, as I did to my slight regret, as it can become a little overwhelming. There is some dating in the material but it is more of a delight how little effect time has taken on the comedy. The best pieces are, without a doubt, the marvelous Cloudland Revisited sequences where the author looks at books and movies he admired in his youth to see what horrible things time, experience and maturity have done to them. These selections are the treasures of the volume. A fine look at the almost lost art of a certain form of humour writing at its height. A wonderful volume to be savoured slowly.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Max A. Lebow on January 24, 2006
Format: Paperback
This book has kept my spirits up over some very tough times. Each short essay is a gem of understated humor. Perelman's gift for making up names that make you laugh out loud -- especially if you know Yiddish -- is unparalleled.

This is a book to savor. Even the introduction and interstitial writing by the editor, Steve Martin, are hilarious.

Perelman is also an erudite humorist, throwing about deadly accurate references to the classics of American and European literature with abandon.

If it was worth lampooning between 1930 and 1958, Perelman lampoons it. The results have not aged badly.

Thanks, SJ, wherever you are.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 12, 2000
Format: Paperback
It's the same book except it's missing treasures like "Dusk in Fierce Pajamas" (the Diana Vreeland parody). 5(000,000) stars for S.J.P. and 3 stars for the "editor".
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Stanley Michelson on June 24, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you own, or have read The Most of S J Perelman, buying this compilation attributed to Steve Martin is a waste of time and money and effort. It's almost an exact duplicate of The Most of S J Perelman. Whoever put it together just left out The Acres and Pains items. How can they put this on the market as a new book. I waited a few months for it, but luckily, I had some one I could give it to, who hadn't a copy of the original. Save your money and look for the first one. Better all around
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By El Kabong on October 14, 2000
Format: Paperback
Don't get me wrong, Sid's a five-star talent....but whose brain-damaged idea was it to reissue an abridged version of MOST OF, one of the great American works of humor & satire? Isn't it enough of a crime against humanity that so little Perelman is available as it is? You'd think a EXPANDED version -a two volume set, f'rinstance- would be more apropos, no? Steve Martin's a pleasant enough comedian, but having the author of CRUEL SHOES in as celebrity-editor is an innovation I'm a little leery of. Besides, why would the late (and sorely-missed) Perelman NEED an editor at this point? Herewith, my free advice to Modern Library: either reprint MOST OF in toto, or just collate ALL of Perelman's work in expensive bound volumes and charge the moon and sky for it. (I guarantee that anyone who would grudgingly buy this would spring for a more definitive omnibus edition.) Of course, as this IS Perelman, naturally it's great reading and a must-buy if you don't have the earlier edition. But don't further punish an audience of starving Perelmaniacs with any more 'editors' who feel compelled to edit!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Shalom Freedman HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on October 16, 2006
Format: Paperback
I was pretty resistant to the charms of Perelman's prose in my early years, as I usually looked for writers who could give some hint as to life 's deeper meanings. Perelman I find at an age when I am perhaps a bit tired of finding deeper meanings, provides the kind of sheer amusement and escape that few other writers can. His vocabulary is extraordinary and delightful, and his sentences complicated artistic constructions which always seem to arrive at unpredictable and at times hilarious places.

This is a writer who simply delights in making all of mankind seem as if we are one big foible of fun.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Joseph Guyer on May 27, 2005
Format: Paperback
Perelman isn't just a brilliant humor writer, he's a brilliant writer. I can't think of another wordsmith, except for Shakespeare, who has a better knack for finding the right word for the right occasion. Half the time, I don't get his esoteric references to New York social life of the 30s and 40s and 50s, but he manages to write his pieces in such a way that I still find it humorous. He is such a gifted writer that he could make a seminar on Social Security funnier than any sketch on Saturday Night Live. It's too bad contemporary Americans no longer appreciate the sort of wordplay, non-sequiturs, and witticisms that define Perelman's writing. At the same time, his work, except when he's writing about obscure New York City social life, still feels fresh and relevant.

Woody Allen said that reading Perelman was detrimental to a young writer because then your own work begins to mimic his. I don't see this as such a bad thing. If only more "humorists" were as funny as Perelman, there might really be a reason to watch sitcoms and spend money to see "comedies."
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