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Smart Aleck : the Wit, World, and Life of Alexander Woollcott / by Howard Teichmann (Inglese) Copertina rigida – 1976

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Fine cloth copy in a near fine, very slightly edge-nicked and dust-dulled dw, now mylar-sleeved. Remains particularly and surprisingly well-preserved; tight, bright, clean and sharp-cornered. ; 334 pages; Description: 334 p. , [9] leaves of plates : ill. ; 24 cm. Subjects: Woollcott, Alexander, 1887-1943. Authors, American --20th century --Biography. Theater critics --United States --Biography

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Le recensioni clienti più utili su (beta) (Potrebbero essere presenti recensioni del programma "Early Reviewer Rewards") 3.9 su 5 stelle 8 recensioni
2 di 2 persone hanno trovato utile la seguente recensione
4.0 su 5 stelle A very good book. Expect to get a good idea of the man. 18 marzo 2015
Di Phred - Pubblicato su
Formato: Copertina rigida Acquisto verificato
The simplest way to express my opinion of Smart Aleck; is to tell you that I have added it to my wish list Howard Teichmann's biography of George S Kaufman. I have a standing interest in the members of the Algonquin Round table and with this biography of Alexander Wollcott; I trust the author to do a good job with Kaufman. I am not too surprised to find that both books are out of print and only available from used bookstores.

Among the high points of Smart Aleck are the aspects of his early life that to me seemed unlikely. His early life in semi-poverty was not nearly as surprising as his early life in a commune. That he was relatively un-athletic and picked on by his peers was no surprise. That he found a patron would help him attend Hamilton College was all but predictable. The author declares without reservation that Alexander Woollcott was a transvestite. More exactly he believes that he was a man of mostly indeterminate or at least minimal sexuality but with a preference for dressing up in women's clothing. That the men of Hamilton College would accept him as a drag queen seems to suggest a modern militancy about sexual identity that may not have existed over 100 years ago.

It was known to me that as a drama critic Woollcott's opinion was the published voice that could make or break new Broadway New York productions. That he would have had to work his way up with in the reporter's trade is obvious in retrospect but had not occurred to me before. Given his personal extravagances, prickly ego, and famous skills at the groaning board I would never have thought of him as a soldier serving in the front in World War I. His original service was as a private soldier in an ambulance unit where he would've been exposed if not to shell fire then certainly the bloody realities of trench warfare. After his promotion to sergeant it would appear his many friends pulled some strings and got him assigned to a then brand-new publication Stars & Stripes. As a reporter on this soldier's newspaper he would take himself to the battlefront with the same clarity of clarity that he would take himself to the finest restaurants in Paris. It would be during his military service that Woollcott and his friend George Kaufman would begin the card games that would later morph into the Algonquin Round Table.

It is likely that many important drama critics of his generation would've had a hand in promoting many of the careers that would become associated with Woollcott. He would claim the Marx Brothers as special protégés and Harpo Marx would become a lifelong friend. Woollcott was almost the sole critic to promote the play that would introduce Spencer Tracy. And while this list could go on for many more lines; Teichmann devotes little more than a paragraph to efforts by Woollcott to advance the career of a young black singer Paul Robeson.

For the rest, Woollcott was a large man and lived a large life. He would succeed in several media. Listing his many friends often read like name-dropping. This becomes a problem when Teichmann frequently assumes that you know the careers that go with the names.

The weakness to this book is its preference for the sharper retorts and cutting witticisms. The Round Table was famous for saber slash insults made by brilliant writers. It is fun to store up famous Woollcott jabs, but only towards the end to we get significant samples of his writing. The subtitle of Smart Alack is: The Wit, World and Life of Alexander Woollcott. All of these things are delivered. What is missing from the title, and more critically missing in the text are Woollcott's words.

It would have been interesting to have a few extended selections from the Woollcott keyboard. Especially those that demonstrated the various qualities Teichmann ascribes to Woollcott. It would have been interesting to contrast his early reports from the seamy side of New York City with his sometimes gushing reviews of performances by favored actors. A partial radio script would help to demonstrate the more mature writer, but also the differences he knew to be necessary in writing for the theater page and speaking to a live audience.
This is not an academic biography; this is a good thing for us non-academic readers. I also credit Teichmann with working to attempt neutrality about his subject. The result is readable, if overly larded with needless references to the man's weight and Buddha Belly. It is also too much of a name dropper book. These are petty complaints, but near dearth of original Woollcott material makes Smart Alack less than it could have been.
5.0 su 5 stelle Interesting and enjoyable 5 giugno 2014
Di Mary Beth Hincke - Pubblicato su
Formato: Copertina rigida Acquisto verificato
Alexander Woollcott is primarily remembered as a member of the Algonquin Round Table of the 1920's and the subject of the play and motion picture "The Man Who Came To Dinner". This book details his life in an engaging manner with revelations such that Mr. Woollcott, as a reporter, was sent to cover the immediate aftermath of the Titanic disaster. He also was one of the original staff of the Armed Services publication "The Stars and Stripes". There are many anecdotes of his encounters with the great of both the theatrical world and of the larger one. A very enjoyable book.
1 di 1 persone hanno trovato utile la seguente recensione
4.0 su 5 stelle Aleck Who? 11 giugno 2011
Di Ed Van Eeden - Pubblicato su
Formato: Copertina rigida Acquisto verificato
In the last ten years I've acquired a whole stack of books of and about the authors who sat at the Algonquin Round Table: Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley, George Kaufman, and the like. Among them was Alexander (Aleck) Woollcott. Aleck Who? Exactly: he was a celebrity in his days, and is now practically forgotten.
This charming book brings him back to life, as the witty, influential, narcistic man he must have been. Always in for a joke ('Guess which famous writer has his birthday today!' 'You, Aleck?' 'Close. It's Shakespeare.'), always ready to write a rotten review about a mediocre talent. I'm really glad I came across this book: it makes me appreciate Smart Aleck even more.
3.0 su 5 stelle Not well-written but chock full of trivia about Woolcott and ... 11 settembre 2015
Di Law School Fiction Reader - Pubblicato su
Formato: Copertina rigida Acquisto verificato
Not well-written but chock full of trivia about Woolcott and lots of interesting anecdotes. My copy was missing about 30 pages toward the end--so I guess I will never actually finish the book.
1 di 1 persone hanno trovato utile la seguente recensione
4.0 su 5 stelle The one and only Woollcott 16 giugno 2014
Di Marcus - Pubblicato su
Formato: Copertina rigida Acquisto verificato
A very serviceable biography of Alexander Woollcott. Teichmann also wrote a fine biography of Kaufman. What a great age for American Theater.

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