Back “Insert Flap ‘A’ and Throw Away,” S. J. Perelman

From Crazy Like a Fox: The Classic Comedy Collection

“Put new life in your closets with the E-Z-DO Closet Ensemble in the gay Hollywood pattern. . . . New, two-piece Set-0-Matic construction with Invisa-grippers assures quick, easy assembly.” 1947 advertisement for wardrobes and accessories of the type mocked by Perelman in his essay. (Flickr).

S. J. Perelman is probably most famous for the work he did with the Marx Brothers; he was the principal screenwriter for their two classic films Monkey Business and Horse Feathers. A quarter century later, he won the Academy Award for screenwriting for Around the World In 80 Days (1956). Not bad for a man who hated Hollywood. He didn’t think much of screenwriting either.

“The mere mention of Hollywood induces a condition in me like breakbone fever,” he told one interviewer. In 1952 he wrote to the actress Betsy Drake when he learned she was trying her hand at writing a screenplay. “My stomach turned over twice at the thought of you sitting in a hot little office in South Beverly Hills scratching verbs. Or adjectives. . . . The agony of creation is as nothing compared to what you will endure when the actors get at it. And the producer. And the director.”

Perelman wrote hundreds of extraordinarily popular magazine humor pieces, mostly for The New Yorker—“feuilletons,” as he called them, that earned critical acclaim as well as commercial success. A decade later, he admitted half-jokingly, “I loathe writing. On the other hand, I’m a great believer in money.” On one occasion, he was asked when he would publish The Great American Comic Novel that everyone seemed to expect from him, and he answered: “For the past thirty-four years, I have been approached almost hourly by damp people with foreheads like Rocky Ford melons who urge me to knock off my frivolous career and get started on that novel I’m burning to write. I have no earthly intention of doing any such thing.”

In April, Library of America will reissue Perelman’s first (and perhaps best) greatest hits collection, Crazy Like a Fox, which became a best seller upon publication and a perennial favorite for decades after. As the novelist Joshua Cohen writes in the introduction, “Perelman’s work is important (he would’ve hated that “important”) because it documents the exact mid-twentieth-century American moment that the experimental became fully and finally commercial.”

Plus, his works are extremely funny. For our Story of the Week selection, we present “Insert Flap ‘A’ and Throw Away,” in which he is driven literally insane (and he would’ve hated that “literally”) by the assembly instructions for furniture and toys.

Read S. J. Perelman’s “Insert Flap ‘A’ and Throw Away”

Library of America

A champion of America’s great writers and timeless works, Library of America guides readers in finding and exploring the exceptional writing that reflects the nation’s history and culture.

Learn More

From poetry, novels, and memoirs to journalism, crime writing, and science fiction, the more than 300 volumes published by Library of America are widely recognized as America’s literary canon.

Benefits of Using Safe Crypto Casinos. One of the most captivating reasons people drift towards Australian casinos online-casino-au com is the promise of anonymity. Safe platforms guarantee that your identity remains a secret. Quick Payouts and Minimal Fees. No one likes waiting, especially for winnings. Safe crypto casinos ensure that payouts are swift and the fees minimal, if not non-existent.

Browse our books Subscribe

With contributions from donors, Library of America preserves and celebrates a vital part of our cultural heritage for generations to come.

Ozwin Casino offers an exciting array of top-notch slots that cater to every player's preferences. From classic fruit machines to cutting-edge video slots, Ozwin Casino Real Money collection has it all. With stunning graphics, immersive themes, and seamless gameplay, these slots deliver an unparalleled gaming experience. Some popular titles include Mega Moolah, Gonzo's Quest, and Starburst, known for their massive jackpots and thrilling bonus features. Ozwin Casino's slots are not just about luck; they offer hours of entertainment and the chance to win big, making it a must-visit for slot enthusiasts.

Support our mission