Monday, August 2, 2021

Book cover: "Crazy Like a Fox"

  • Title: Crazy Like a Fox
  • Author: S.J. Perelman (1904-1979). He was a humorist, an Academy Award winner and apparently a fairly grumpy and miserable person. (The back cover of the dust jacket, however, lauds him as "button-cute, rapier-keen, wafer-think and pauper-poor.")  This book is responsible for boosting the usage of "crazy like a fox" in the American lexicon. This is my favorite line from Perelman's Wikipedia biography: "His Anglophilia turned rather sour when late in his life he (temporarily) relocated to England and actually had to socialize with the English." He retired to Erwinna, Pennsylvania, an unincorporated community in Bucks County that I had not previously heard of.
  • Cover illustrator: Edward McKnight Kauffer (1890-1954). He's not credited anywhere in the book or on the dust jacket. But his signature can be seen on the cover illustration.
  • Publisher: Garden City Publishing Company (from its Star Books line, which began in 1925 as Star Dollar Books. According to OWU Wordpress, "These were previously published books reprinted, initially, with common jacket designs at the same size as the original books.")
  • Year: 1945. (first published in 1944 by Random House, and containing material that Perelman had published between 1929 and 1944)
  • Pages: 269
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Provenance: Purchased for $1 at an Arizona thrift store, as mentioned on July 24.
  • Dust jacket blurb: "Here, with a touch of inspired folly, he makes the whole world spin. His new book, Crazy Like a Fox, is a merry-go-round of fantastic Perelmania and contains no fewer than forty-fix of his best waggeries. It includes many favorites for Perelman partisans and a sprinkling of new pieces in his best vein."
  • Dedication: For Laura and Abby Laura
  • First sentence: "Yesterday morning I awoke from a deep dream of peace compounded of equal parts allonal and Vat 69 to find that autumn was indeed here."
  • Last sentence: "That's a hell of a lot more than I can say for him."
  • Random sentence from the middle: "At the close of business every evening, Philomène retired to her room armed with a sixteen-inch steak knife, doubtless to ward off an attack by her Poltergeist."
  • Rating on Goodreads: 4.31 stars (out of 5)
  • Goodreads review: In 2012, Tom Newth wrote: "Cherishable New Yorker-style wit, wordplay, and sardoncism to the nth degree, but a bit dated now and somewhat smug, and only occasionally actually funny."
  • Rating on Amazon: 4.7 stars (out of 5)
  • Amazon review: In 2014, Joseph L. wrote: "S.J. Perelman is a literary genius. I have to keep a dictionary handy for all of the new words I learn."

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