Friday, July 26, 2013

Forgotten Books: I Was a Teenage Dwarf -- Max

I've mentioned before that when I was a youth, I was quite taken with the works of Max Shulman, and I mentioned that 50 years ago (more than that now, I wanted to be Max Shulman.  I also mentioned that I'd still like to be.  That's because back in the long-ago, I thought his books were hilarious.  Re-reading I Was a Teenage Dwarf, I'm reminded that I still do.  

This book is supposedly a novel, but it's a novel only in the sense that a series of connected short stories is a novel.  The stories are narrated by Dobie Gillis (memorably portrayed on TV by Dwayne Hickman), who at the age of 13 is dismayed by the fact that all the girls in his class are taller than he is.  Dismayed, maybe, but indefatigable in his pursuit of them, and all the girls he loves and loses through the years, up until the age of 30, where the book ends.  Interestingly enough, many of the girls live next door to him.  There's a big turnover in the inhabitants, as most people find that they can't live there very long. (This is not Dobie's fault and indeed has nothing to do with him.)

Reading Shulman's books now, I wonder if anyone younger than about 60 would find them funny.  I can read them again with the same sensibility that I did when I was a kid (which probably means I've never grown up), and I still find them hilarious.  The Dedini illustrations probably help, but I marvel at the clarity and humor of Shulman's prose.  Subtle?  Maybe not.  But funny (to me)? Very.

7 comments:

Jerry House said...

In my salad days, I devoured every book I could find by two very different Shulmans -- Max and Irving. The salad may be wilted now but my appreciation for these writers has not. Sad that neither author is readily available today.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Loved this one.
And to answer your question, probably not.

Anonymous said...

I don't remember this one but I did love the Shulman books I read...and of course the Dobie Gillis TV series.


Jeff

Rick Robinson said...

Like others, I read as much Schulman as I could find at the time, including this one. I remember thinking the cover was pretty racy. (Does anyone use that term any more?) I'll bet I'd still find this and the others funny and entertaining.

Max Allan Collins said...

I loved Shulman. SLEEP TILL NOON is probably my favorite, and I'll revisit it one of these days. Long live Dobie Gillis.

Paul D Brazill said...

Well, you had me at the title! new to me.

George said...

I have RALLY ROUND THE FLAG BOYS! near the top of my stack of Read Real Soon stack. Love Max Schulman's works!