S.J. Perelman (1904-1979)

Sidney Joseph Perelman is and likely will remain my favorite writer. Aside from the fact that he makes me laugh out loud his economy impresses me. I have a sort of mania about elegance, concision and brevity. Perelman was a brilliant miniaturist.

I don’t judge art by quantity but by quality which is why some of the more long-winded Teutonic composers make my eyes glaze over.

I own almost all of Perelman’s 20 books which are largely collections of his pieces written for the New Yorker between 1930 and 1979. I can re-read any of these volumes and always find new hidden gems of unlikely locution and verbal gymnastics of the first water.

How’s that for an endorsement?

Sadly, people read less and less these days and authors with Perelman’s skill and his use of arcane but hilarious references may not appeal to today’s readers such as they are. I, for one, would hate to see this great American humorist get lost in the shuffle.

Below is a quote from his Wiki page which may provide a bit more information on him.


(Perelman wrote many brief, humorous descriptions of his travels for various magazines, and of his travails on his Pennsylvania farm, all of which were collected into books. (A few were illustrated by caricaturist Al Hirschfeld, who accompanied Perelman on the round-the-world trip recounted in Westward Ha!)Perelman is highly regarded for his humorous short pieces that he published in magazines in the 1930s and 1940s, most often in The New Yorker. For these, he is considered the first surrealist humor writer of the United States.[1] In these numerous brief sketches he pioneered a new style that was unique to him, using parody to “wring every drop of false feeling or slovenly thinking.”[2])