Created by S.J. Perelman
“She… had eyes like dusty lapis lazuli, taffy hair, and a figure that did things to me. I kicked open the bottom drawer of her desk, let two inches of rye trickle down my craw, kissed Birdie square on her lush, red mouth, and set fire to a cigarette.”
One of the all-time great spoofs of the entire private eye genre is S.J. Perelman‘s “Farewell, My Lovely Appetizer” from 1944, which gleefully lampoons the excesses of everyone from Sam Spade to Dan Turner, and particularly Phil Marlowe and his gang of world-weary, simile-spouting literary descendants.
Private dick MIKE NOONAN of the Manhattan-based Atlas Detective Agency is the man, Irish enough to know the “difference between a gossoon and a bassoon” and tough enough to know a red herring (or a pink one) when he sees one. It’s all here: the witty wordplay, the cynical secretary, the possibly femme fatale client and the suspiciously tinted sea food. The classic hard-boiled parody. Hunt it down. Read it.
It’s a corker.
According to Jeff Siegel’s The American Detective, humourist (and known accomplice of The Marx Bros.) S.J. Perelman “always seemed to show up on the fringes of the hard-boiled crowd. He was a drinking buddy of Hammett and Lillian Hellman’s.”
He was also an unabashed fan of Robert Leslie Bellem’s Dan Turner, and was responsible for an affectionate, hilarious tribute to Bellem’s private skulk called “Somewhere a Roscoe…” which appeared in The New Yorker in the 1940’s. He was also, evidently, a regular correspondent with Chandler at one point, even sending him a copy of “Farewell, My Lovely Appetizer.”
- “Farewell, My Lovely Appetizer” (December 16, 1944, The New Yorker; reprinted 1958, The Most of S. J. Perelman) | Read it now!