Grouchin’

 

Over the weekend, I finally finished an old Groucho biography written in 1979 by Hector Arce. Now normally this wouldn’t have been such a huge victory, but I’d actually started reading it 14 years ago!

This was one of my dad’s books that I would always find in the “library” underneath the stairs back in our Texas home. I saw it enough times, and I was big enough of a Marx Brothers fan, that I started to read it for one of my 8th grade English assignments (I think we had to read a biography). However, I only got halfway through the beast since it was way too mature and thus boring for my 13-year old tastes. It’s amazing how much I would remember as I read … sometimes I even knew how the sentences would be finished!

Anyway, it’s obvious that Groucho was an amazing, once-in-a-generation talent whose stories and quips now approach legendary status. I’ve added all the Marx Brothers movies to my Netflix to give a more knowledgeable and older eye to his work, but the wildest part of the book was actually at the very end. I had no clue the last year or so of Groucho’s life involved a very nasty and very public battle between his live-in pseudo-girlfriend and his family over his assets. It was heartbreaking reading about the inevitable deterioration of a person so vibrant physically as well as mentally, but the pettiness of those who surrounded him made everything seem so much … lonlier.

Well, as the Schumie would say: “all in all” it was a good, if a bit dated, read. The writer of the book was actually working on this book with Groucho’s help so there are a few “real-time” Groucho-isms scattered throughout that were a nice touch. However, this posed a strange twist during the last few chapters. As Arce was involved in Grouhco’s life when the famous comedian died this means he was involved in the legal battles as well. Near the end I longed for an impartial voice as the author’s sudden use of “I” rather than “he” started to read like a Rolling Stone interview where the writer cares more about talking about himself than his subject.

Current Mood: Deadly (like Dirk’s shot) emoticon Deadly (like Dirk’s shot)

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