Monday, October 31, 2016

Born Julius

Happy Halloween, everyone, but while we're all celebrating the holiday, let me mention the new book by my friend Matthew Coniam, That's Me, Groucho!  As you might guess, it's the story of Groucho's solo career.  As such, it's a worthy successor to Coniam's last book, The Annotated Marx Brothers.

Coniam is one of the most thoughtful writers on the Marx Boys.  For decades, critics looked back at them and their career as if it were a smooth and pre-ordained ride.  Coniam's best quality may be his ability to look at them afresh.  Groucho was the first Marx Brother to go on the stage, and the others joined him through the years.  It wasn't a plan, it just worked out that way.  Same with their characters.

For that matter, we don't know when Groucho realized he was now, for better or worse, tied to his brothers.  It would seem he always thought he might be a solo act again, and, indeed, spent much of his career--and a highly successful part of it--on his own.  And the character he developed was related to, but different from, the one in the brother act who'd been so popular on Broadway and in movies.  For that matter, the character he created was related to himself, but wasn't the same thing (though perhaps the man, Julius Henry Marx, grew more and more like the Groucho everyone knew).

So if you're a fan of the Marx Brothers, or even if you just want to know more about them, you'd do well to check out his books.  And they make great gifts.  With Halloween soon behind us, Christmas can't be far away.


Blogger Matthew Coniam said...

Hello again! Glad you liked it. This focuses on exactly the elements of the book that I thought were the most important, so thanks!

1:47 AM, November 01, 2016  
Blogger LAGuy said...

Happy to be of service. Groucho is the most written about brother, but you managed to make his story come alive, through both research and cogitation.

Are you going to do another book? No one has ever properly told the story of Gummo.

2:51 AM, November 01, 2016  

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