Cover image for The vicious circle : mystery and crime stories by members of the Algonquin Round Table
The vicious circle : mystery and crime stories by members of the Algonquin Round Table
Penzler, Otto.
First Pegasus Books edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Pegasus Books, 2007.
Physical Description:
205 pages ; 22 cm
A collection of short mystery and detective stories by members of the Algonquin Round Table, including S. J. Perelman's "Farewell, My Lovely Appetizer, " Ring Lardner's "Haircut, " and Dorothy Parker's "Big Blonde."
Introduction / Otto Penzler -- Coroner's inquest / Marc Connelly -- The mystery of the poisoned kipper / Robert Benchley -- Farewell, my lovely appetizer / S. J. Perelman -- Haircut / Ring Lardner -- Moonlight sonata / Alexander Woollcott -- The great Warburton mystery / George S. Kaufman and Howard Dietz -- Big Blonde / Dorothy Parker -- Up the close and down the stair / S. J. Perelman -- The man who came back / Edna Ferber -- Rien ne va plus / Alexander Woollcott -- Four-and-twenty blackjacks / S. J. Perelman -- Stop me--if you've heard this one / Ring Lardner.
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Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS648.D4 V53 2007 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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With the possible exception of the expatriate writers living in Paris in the 1920s, no single group of American literary figures has achieved as much fame or notoriety as the New York sophisticates who met to match wits and attempt to outshine each other as members of what came to be called the Algonquin Round Table.The humorists Robert Benchley and S. J. Perelman, playwrights Marc Connelly and George S. Kaufman, novelists Edna Ferber and Alexander Woollcott, and most famously, Dorothy Parker, were the literary luminaries who made up this group, and each one produced a piece or two of crime fiction at some point, which are collected for the first time in this anthology by acclaimed mystery editor Otto Penzler.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The acerbic, alcohol-fueled critics, playwrights, and story writers who gathered at New York's Algonquin Hotel in the 1920s to trade insults and gossip are legendary for their wit, eccentricity, and literary leaps. Rebounding after compiling the truly massive The Black Lizard Big Book of Pulps (2007), Penzler, the mystery genre's ardent champion, returns to his favorite form and presents another concentrated, cleverly themed anthology. Previous collections have gathered crime stories about sports and gambling; here humor is a common denominator, beginning with Penzler's entertaining introduction. In Farewell, My Lovely Appetizer, the comic master S. J. Perelman spoofs the iconic figure of the hard-drinking, skirt-chasing private eye, coining hilarious pseudo-tough guy slang and choreographing elaborately pointless subterfuge. Marc Connelly cooks up a wee murder mystery involving two midgets that seems tailor-made for the old Alfred Hitchcock Presents television series. The crimes here are mainly against pretension and hope, and what masterful interpretations are found in classic tales by Ring Lardner, Edna Ferber, and Dorothy Parker in the collection's finest work, the profoundly empathic Big Blonde. --Seaman, Donna Copyright 2008 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

As mystery expert Penzler admits in his introduction, this volume contains "little classic detection... and less nail-biting suspense" than the usual crime fiction anthology, but those curious about the legendary figures of the Algonquin Round Table-a group of New York City writers and critics from the 1920s, many affiliated with the New Yorker-will get at least a taste of the wit and sophistication for which they were known. Of the dozen selections, the highlights are three parodic pieces by S.J. Perelman, notably the laugh-out-loud "Farewell, My Lovely Appetizer," a send-up of the hard-boiled genre that?s a clear literary precursor to Woody Allen?s Kaiser Lupowitz stories. Another stand-out is the wickedly absurd "The Mystery of the Poisoned Kipper" by Robert Benchley, perhaps best known today as the grandfather of the author of Jaws. While some tales disappoint, readers new to these authors may be inspired to sample more of their work. (Dec.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

Library Journal Review

Editor Penzler, one of the great mystery aficionados, gathers an even dozen stories by Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley, Edna Ferber, Marc Connelly, George S. Kaufman, S.J. Perelman, and Alexander Woolcott. Although Penzler knows his stuff, dubbing many of these mystery and crime stories is a bit of a stretch. That's not to say they're not good stories-they most certainly are-but labeling Parker's "The Big Blonde" a crime story because the boozy, lovelorn protagonist attempts suicide-legally a crime-requires a leap of faith. True to the collective authors' reputation for wit, many of these pieces are laugh-out-loud funny sketches (Perelman's PI parody "Farewell, My Lovely Appetizer" is a peach) and others like Ring Lardner's noted "Haircut" and "Stop Me-If You've Heard This One," as well as Woolcott's "Rien Ne Va Plus" are straightforward prose pieces. Though these pieces are enjoyable if you're a fan of the Algonquin gang, readers of more traditional crime/mystery stories might find this collection little more than a pleasant novelty. Purchase accordingly.-Mike Rogers, Library Journal (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.