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Madder Music

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This is the story of man who thinks he's Groucho Marx. Delusions of grandeur? Well, not exactly. Middle-aged, middle-class, freelance writer Bob Swirling has a rather poor opinion of himself, as a matter of fact, and after a series of bruising events under progressively more deflating circumstances, he fetches up at Silver Slopes sanatarium, happily bustling about in the a This is the story of man who thinks he's Groucho Marx. Delusions of grandeur? Well, not exactly. Middle-aged, middle-class, freelance writer Bob Swirling has a rather poor opinion of himself, as a matter of fact, and after a series of bruising events under progressively more deflating circumstances, he fetches up at Silver Slopes sanatarium, happily bustling about in the adopted guise of his favorite comedian, of whom he has been doing imitations for years. He just stays inside the impersonation. How all this came about if the subject of Peter De Vries's new comedy, Madder Music. When Swirling mistakenly believes himself to be terminally ill, he calls for madder music - particularly that of a sexual nature. Unfortunately, he is trapped by the mentality of the "bohemian bourgeoisie," and discovers, along with the rest of us, that the road to "liberation" is littered with surprises...and some happy misunderstandings. Swirling copes by retreating into the identity of Groucho, on whom he can pin all the unexpected hostilities that have for so long kept the puritanically raised hero racked with guilt. Off Groucho's tart tongue can be bounced all the pent-up antagonism toward fellow men no better than might be expected. As Swirling's surrogate Groucho faces squarely up to the cockeyed world - making a merry shambles of Silver Slopes into the bargain. Even when Swirling is at last lured out of Groucho's shell back into his own, with the help of a ravishing black girl who has been one of his major complications to begin with, his troubles aren't over, and neither is the fun.


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This is the story of man who thinks he's Groucho Marx. Delusions of grandeur? Well, not exactly. Middle-aged, middle-class, freelance writer Bob Swirling has a rather poor opinion of himself, as a matter of fact, and after a series of bruising events under progressively more deflating circumstances, he fetches up at Silver Slopes sanatarium, happily bustling about in the a This is the story of man who thinks he's Groucho Marx. Delusions of grandeur? Well, not exactly. Middle-aged, middle-class, freelance writer Bob Swirling has a rather poor opinion of himself, as a matter of fact, and after a series of bruising events under progressively more deflating circumstances, he fetches up at Silver Slopes sanatarium, happily bustling about in the adopted guise of his favorite comedian, of whom he has been doing imitations for years. He just stays inside the impersonation. How all this came about if the subject of Peter De Vries's new comedy, Madder Music. When Swirling mistakenly believes himself to be terminally ill, he calls for madder music - particularly that of a sexual nature. Unfortunately, he is trapped by the mentality of the "bohemian bourgeoisie," and discovers, along with the rest of us, that the road to "liberation" is littered with surprises...and some happy misunderstandings. Swirling copes by retreating into the identity of Groucho, on whom he can pin all the unexpected hostilities that have for so long kept the puritanically raised hero racked with guilt. Off Groucho's tart tongue can be bounced all the pent-up antagonism toward fellow men no better than might be expected. As Swirling's surrogate Groucho faces squarely up to the cockeyed world - making a merry shambles of Silver Slopes into the bargain. Even when Swirling is at last lured out of Groucho's shell back into his own, with the help of a ravishing black girl who has been one of his major complications to begin with, his troubles aren't over, and neither is the fun.

30 review for Madder Music

  1. 5 out of 5

    Katherine

    “Dr. Josko enjoyed few things more than coining an epigram. But he positively shimmered with pleasure when he felt a paradox coming on” (8). “ ‘Well, just pick out the mice you do like and we’ll send the exterminator up for the rest’” (12). “ ‘I was hauled down to the police station and told that anything I said might be held against me. So I said, “Elizabeth Taylor.” But nothing ever came of it…’” (16). “Swirling turned down the thermostat of his attention to the bare minimum required for followin “Dr. Josko enjoyed few things more than coining an epigram. But he positively shimmered with pleasure when he felt a paradox coming on” (8). “ ‘Well, just pick out the mice you do like and we’ll send the exterminator up for the rest’” (12). “ ‘I was hauled down to the police station and told that anything I said might be held against me. So I said, “Elizabeth Taylor.” But nothing ever came of it…’” (16). “Swirling turned down the thermostat of his attention to the bare minimum required for following the conversation…” (37-38). “ ‘…Emerson—who, incidentally, closed his eyes whenever he smiled—certainly a sign of maladjustment’” (53). “He was no Prufrock, nor was meant to be. Not for him the premonitory qualm, the exquisite hesitation. He ate Becky’s peaches while foraging for even more paradisal fruit…” (56-57). “…as they rushed together into that First Garden to which kind nature lets us intermittently return, the primordial Eden to whose gates Sin—so far from being the cause of our exile—is often as not the very key” (57). “The fact that the windows there had lace curtains for some reason made any inhabitants lurking behind them seem more morally critical, and more to be feared by wrongdoers, than if they had been peering out between contemporary draperies” (62). “The required metaphors tumbled out of him every which way, mixed and unmixed. He felt like both a puffing athlete and a commentator giving a blow-by-blow account of his performance, and then he became still a third self, observing himself doing all this, the spectator for whom the game is played and the color broadcast” (63). “He remembered his half-blind old grandmother when she was staying with them in their house in old Kazoo, pouring milk over some dry dog food, under the impression that it was breakfast cereal. He had set the poor dear straight, a boy of ten or twelve tenderly wresting the dish from her grasp and fixing her a bowl of Grape Nuts to eat. The next day he found her pouring Grape Nuts into the dog’s dish” (65). “…holding a leash on which a tiny dog twitched like a trout on the end of a line” (69). “ ‘Created by God, a little lower than the angels? Rubbish. Man is just another biological happenstance. I don’t consider myself a little lower than the angels at all. I’m just a bit of organic scum infesting the outer crust of one of the lesser planets’” (93). “ ‘Until this country shall have a new birth of freedom, Caesarean if necessary…’” (94). “But he did continue to brighten their evenings together with bits of conversational tinsel thrown out from the parlor sofa, now an invalid’s pallet, on which he lay palely loitering” (98). “ ‘Hawthorne was a voyeur with myopia’” (98). “ ‘ There are some things, like the spelling of jodhpurs, that can never be made to look right’” (98). “ ‘Bobolink, are you going to hit the ceiling?’ “ ‘That shouldn’t be too hard. Most of it is on the floor’” (102). “ ‘Killing time, Pomfret?’ “ ‘Only in self-defense’” (103). “That was the trouble in a nutshell. Unfit for either marriage or adultery, being restless in the one and remorseful in the other, Swirling often came to compare his plight to that of the platypus, that whimsically improbably little creature that is both aquatic and terrestrial and yet not comfortably either…” (119). “ ‘Yes, well, I’d ditch the Ohio part, for a rhyme I mean. It’s a trap. Oh me oh my-o. Heaved a tender sigh-o. Life’s no slice of pie-o. Dump you into bathos every time, when what you want is pathos’” (120). “My strawberries are the envy of the neighborhood. ‘What do you put on them?’ somebody asked only today, ‘Manure?’ I said, ‘No, just cream and sugar’” (130). “…fluidly resuming the offensive as though he had never babbled this Sophoclean folderol” (133). “ ‘…what livestock farmers have hoped for since the beginning of time, namely a strain of cows with legs three inches shorter on one side than the other, for grazing on hillsides’” (141). “But calculated asininity is a very tricky art, and if he kept this up they would very quickly recognize a caricature of Pomfret, poor or otherwise” (141). “ ‘The author of that charge spent most of his life coming down on people with both feet. Judge was practically all he did. He gave the Scribe and Pharisees bejesus till the very words are terms of opprobrium. He called people liars, hypocrites, whited sepulchers, every name you could imagine. He was a grade-A vilifier. He drove the money changers out of the temple with a whip he made himself. He snubbed his mother and upstaged his family. He finally judged God himself. “Why hast thou forsaken me?” And it wasn’t just people who got his flak. He even cursed that poor little fig tree. He was not a very nice man, but then he probably came by it honestly. His father is said to have driven the first couple out of the garden for nothing more than picking fruit he himself hung on another tree by way of temptation’” (147). “How much better to be marinated and cooked in the Catholic rather than the Calvinist conscience. Every week to have the sludge cleaned out of your transmission in a latticed booth” (152). “The recovery of his aplomb was not the first order of business, but he managed to ask with some nonchalance, ‘Do you have a price list I might see?’” (167). “Swirling’s life, seen as an odyssey of self-justification, like yours and mine, had reached a critical point” (179). “ ‘I’ll show you my record collection. We’ll play a few overtures and then I’ll make some…’” (193). “At this point he began to raise eyebrows other than his own” (194). “ ‘I’m Gaylord Haines.’ “ ‘I’ve got troubles of my own’” (194). “ ‘Our son threw up in a restaurant the other day, and she said, “That’s enough out of you”’” (195). “ ‘I’m trying to get the lay of the land—if I can find out who she is’” (195). “…and then assisted him in hopping on one leg to a chair on the terrace. It occurred to nobody to bring the chair to him” (198).

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jack

    Wacky sense of humor - fun

  3. 5 out of 5

    Howard

    comic novel from 77 with elements of farce and some dated liberal soulsearching. the main character spends some of the book under the delusion he is Groucho Marx

  4. 5 out of 5

    Thomas

    this book is real funny and smartly written. also, becoming groucho marx is a much cooler way of coping with your shitty life than whatever people usually do.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Michael

  6. 4 out of 5

    Christi

  7. 4 out of 5

    Luann Ritsema

  8. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

  9. 4 out of 5

    Timothy

  10. 4 out of 5

    James

  11. 4 out of 5

    Phil

  12. 4 out of 5

    Dan Nordmeyer

  13. 4 out of 5

    Helen Andrews

  14. 4 out of 5

    Chad Blomme

  15. 4 out of 5

    Salt344

  16. 5 out of 5

    John Blumenthal

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen

  18. 5 out of 5

    Terry

  19. 4 out of 5

    Marianne Stene

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sean

  21. 4 out of 5

    William

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ian

  23. 5 out of 5

    Ahmed Mahid

  24. 4 out of 5

    Michael Jody

  25. 4 out of 5

    Adam

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ehrman

  27. 4 out of 5

    Rick Eymer

  28. 5 out of 5

    John Banks

  29. 4 out of 5

    Sharon

  30. 4 out of 5

    Joelove9

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