Sidney Joseph Perelman is and likely will remain my favorite writer. Aside from the fact that he makes me laugh out loud his economy impresses me. I have a sort of mania about elegance, concision and brevity. Perelman was a brilliant miniaturist.
I own almost all of Perelman’s 20 books which are largely collections of his pieces written for the New Yorker between 1930 and 1979. I can re-read any of these volumes and always find new hidden gems of unlikely locution and verbal gymnastics of the first water.
How’s that for an endorsement?
Sadly, people read less and less these days and authors with Perelman’s skill and his use of arcane but hilarious references may not appeal to today’s readers such as they are. I, for one, would hate to see this great American humorist get lost in the shuffle.
(Perelman wrote many brief, humorous descriptions of his travels for various magazines, and of his travails on his Pennsylvania farm, all of which were collected into books. (A few were illustrated by caricaturist Al Hirschfeld, who accompanied Perelman on the round-the-world trip recounted in Westward Ha!)Perelman is highly regarded for his humorous short pieces that he published in magazines in the 1930s and 1940s, most often in The New Yorker. For these, he is considered the first surrealist humor writer of the United States. In these numerous brief sketches he pioneered a new style that was unique to him, using parody to “wring every drop of false feeling or slovenly thinking.”)
I am currently reading a great deal about Maurice Utrillo (1883-1955).
Utrillo was a self taught painter born in the Montmartre quarter of Paris. His mother was the artist Suzanne Valadon. She studied with Degas and Renoir and is said that she was never quite sure who was the father of Maurice. She finally attributed the paternity to a lesser known Spanish artist Miguel Utrillo though he probably wasn’t the father either.
Maurice was a troubled soul his entire life and had a strong predilection for drink. In later life he became very religious and married an older woman after his mother died and he himself was 52. His mother took care of him for many years and after her death he sought a mother figure again in his older wife Lucy Valore.
Utrillo’s paintings are many and mostly street scenes of Montmartre. After 1910, his work which had previously been derided as “primitive” attracted critical attention. In 1928 the French government awarded him the Cross of the Legion d’honneur.
Until the end of his life however, he was interned in mental asylums repeatedly.
These days his paintings are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
C’est la vie.