Cover image for Even the rhinos were nymphos : best nonfiction
Even the rhinos were nymphos : best nonfiction
Friedman, Bruce Jay, 1930-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Chicago : University of Chicago Press, 2000.
Physical Description:
236 pages ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3556.R5 E94 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



A few years ago, Christopher Buckley wrote of Bruce Jay Friedman in the New York Times Book Review that he "has been likened to everyone from J. D. Salinger to Woody Allen," but that "he is: Bruce Jay Friedman, sui generis, and no mean thing. No further comparisons are necessary." We are happy to report that he remains the same Bruce Jay Friedman in his unique, unblinking, and slightly tilted essays--collected here for the first time--in Even the Rhinos Were Nymphos .

A butler school in Houston, a livestock auction in Little Rock, a home for "frozen guys" in California, JFK's humidor in Manhattan--all are jumping off points for Friedman's baleful and sharply satirical scrutiny of American life and behavior in the second half of the twentieth century. Travel with Friedman from Harlem to Hollywood, from Port-au-Prince to Etta's Eat Shop in Chicago. In these pieces, which were published in literary and mass-circulation magazines from the 1960s to the 1990s, you'll meet such luminaries as Castro and Clinton, Natalie Wood and Clint Eastwood, and even Friedman's friends Irwin Shaw, Nelson Algren, and Mario Puzo. Friedman is a master of the essay, whether the subject is crime reporting ("Lessons of the Street"), Hollywood shenanigans ("My Life among the Stars"), or his outrageous adventures as the editor of pulp magazines (the classic "Even the Rhinos Were Nymphos"). We could sing his praises as a journalist, humorist, and social critic. But, as Buckley tells us, being Bruce Jay Friedman is enough.

Bruce Jay Friedman is the author of seven novels (including The Dick , Stern , and A Mother's Kisses ), four collections of short stories, four full-length plays (including Scuba Duba and Steambath ), and the screenplays for the movies Splash and Stir Crazy .

Author Notes

Bruce Jay Friedman is the author of seven novels (including The Dick , Stern , and A Mother's Kisses ), four collections of short stories, and a number of full-length plays-among them Scuba Duba and Steambath . His screenplay credits include Splash and Stir Crazy .

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Friedman is one of those lucky folks who's earned a decent living as a writer for decades, but his career path has not always been simple. He's written novels, plays, short stories, and screenplays (notably, Splash and Stir Crazy), but he started out at Magazine Management Company, an eccentric firm that published second-rank men's magazines (it's the topic of the title essay). While there, Friedman hired the prolific Mario Puzo, subject of "Don of a New Age." In "Algren and Shaw," the author describes his friendships with Nelson and Irwin, respectively. Celebrities from Clint Eastwood to Jean Shrimpton to former Los Angeles coroner Tom Noguchi are discussed here, as are cigars, butlers, the Border Patrol, Israel, Haiti, Japan, Prague, and Little Rock after the death of Vince Foster. Humor is central to Friedman's journalism, but he also generates unexpected insights. Friedman is a character in most of his stories; his "tilted" view of the world is one many readers will enjoy. --Mary Carroll

Publisher's Weekly Review

Better known for his novels (A Mother's Kisses), plays (Scuba Duba) and screenplays (Splash), Friedman has also garnered over the past four decades a reputation as a journalist whose sly wit complements his idiosyncratic insights. This collection of 23 nonfiction pieces, ranging from the late 1960s to the mid-1990s, brings together a sampling of the author's best magazine writing from Esquire, New York magazine and Playboy, among other publications. Friedman is at his most wry when he is writing about theater and Hollywood. In "Tales from the Darkside" (published in Smart in 1988), he details how a brief stint as a film producer (a far more prestigious and powerful position than that of a writer) still never got him the access and respect he desired. In "Some Thoughts on Clint Eastwood and Heidegger," a quirky, idolizing meditation on the actor's life and career, he juxtaposes odd musingsÄsuch as that his cinematic hero would read the philosopher "and get something out of it, too, maybe not all of what Heidegger was driving at, but something"Äwith the curious opinion that "I don't think that sex is very important to [Eastwood]." Often, Friedman's profiles provide a frightening glimpse into the past. The 1971 "Lessons of the Street" (published in Harper's) details the life and work of a New York City plainclothes detective; as Friedman deftly exposes the cop's racism and violence, we realize how much has and hasn't changed in three decades. While some of the material is (unsurprisingly) dated, the collection provides a vital and sustained look at an important American writer with a unique voice. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Table of Contents

Introduction Some Notes on the Contents
Part 1 The Literary Life "Don't Dare Put Me in Your Play!" (or Story, Novel, Etc.) Even the Rhinos Were Nymphos Algren and Shaw Tales from the Darkside Don of a New Age
Part 2 Celebrities and Others Some Thoughts on Clint Eastwood and Heidegger The Imposing Proportions of Jean Shrimpton To Cigars, with Love and Devotion Yank Paparazzo Frozen Guys Requiem for a Heavy School for Butlers A Champion for Bismarck
Part 3 Lessons of the Street Charge: Murder Lessons of the Street Who's Watching the Border? Tom Noguchi
Part 4 Elsewhere My Life among the Stars My Jerusalem Dark Watercolors from Port-au-Prince Tokyo Prague--the Gray Enchantress Little Rock