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

By: Otto Penzler

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Paperback : 208 pages
Publisher : Pegasus Books (January 2009)
ISBN - 10 : 1605980242
ISBN - 13 : 9781605980249
Product Dimensions : 5.20 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)
Subjects : Short Story Anthologies, Other Mystery Categories

About the author :

Otto Penzler is the proprietor of The Mysterious Bookshop in New York City. He was publisher of The Armchair Detective, the founder of the Mysterious Press and the Armchair Detective Library, and created the publishing firm Otto Penzler Books. He is a recipient of an Edgar Award for The Encyclopedia of Mystery and Detection and the Ellery Queen Award by the Mystery Writers of America for his many contributions to the field. He is the editor of The Vampire Archives and The Black Lizard Big Book of Pulps, which was a New York Times bestseller.


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.

Publishers Weekly

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 standout 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

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

Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

You didn't know that the famed Algonquin Round Table of the 1920s was home to some noted mystery writers? Editor Penzler, try as he might, won't do much to convince you. The paradox here is that although half the volume's 12 reprints are well-known anthology pieces, none of them exactly establishes their authors as significant crime writers. Alexander Woollcott's suave anecdotes, "Moonlight Sonata" and "Rien Ne Va Plus," and Marc Connelly's equally slight "Coroner's Inquest," all go by in a flash. Dorothy Parker's "Big Blonde" lacks mystery, crime or suspense. And how many readers would call Ring Lardner's "Haircut" a crime story? The prize among the obligatory items is S.J. Perelman's sublime Raymond Chandler parody, "Farewell, My Lovely Appetizer." Penzler rounds the volume out with two other, lesser Perelman burlesques (the tedious "Up the Close and Down the Stair" and the livelier "Four-and-Twenty Blackjacks"); a pair of workaday send-ups by Robert Benchley ("The Mystery of the Poisoned Kipper") and George S. Kaufman and Howard Dietz ("The Great Warburton Mystery"); and two undistinguished stories that at least belong in the genre: Edna Ferber's "The Man Who Came Back" and Lardner's "Stop Me-If You've Heard This One."Penzler's introduction and headnotes conscientiously recycle the most enduring cliches about the Round Table wits' backbiting and their lack of major literary success. Even the collection's title is recycled.

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