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Paperback Boswell : A Modern Comedy Book

ISBN: 1564781747

ISBN13: 9781564781741

Boswell : A Modern Comedy

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Format: Paperback

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Book Overview

Boswell is Stanley Elkin's first and funniest novel: the comic odyssey of a twentieth-century groupie who collects celebrities as his insurance policy against death. James Boswell--strong man, professional wrestler (his most heroic match is with the Angel of Death)-- is a con man, a gate crasher, and a moocher of epic talent. He is also the hero of one of the most original novel in years ( Oakland Tribune)--a man on the make for all the great men...

Customer Reviews

3 ratings

I have seen the light!

When I first began to read Boswell, I can honestly say that I thought it was dull and boring. What's the point of this book? is what I thought to myself. But as I read on, I began to see the light, the light of comedy in literature. Never before had an author used comedy so cleverly and and easily as Stanley Elkin does. His comedy is not only funny, but brilliant. he can take a three word sentence and turn it into a humorous event that has comedy and meaning. Not only was the comedy very good, but the stucture of the book was clever as well. Elkin would use different stratagies to keep the reader interested, such as interrupting the plot of the story with small stories that didn't really have anything to do with the story , but added humor and sometimes moral lessons. If you as well want ot see the light of comedy, I strongly recommend Boswell to you.


Elkin's Boswell is not an antihero, rather an almost-hero. Diagnosed by a 'legendary' vocational counselor (a psychologist who almost mystically predicts people's future vocations--a touch of prognostication disguised as science) to be a bum, a social climber, a hanger-on--and not just any bum, the best bum, Boswell survives as a strongman. In this guise he fights death embodied in the form of a professional wrestler. He meets millionaires, scientists, and the cream of society in his quest for social acceptance. Of course, even in his first novel, Stanley Elkin would never stop with a mere character study. Biting satire is the norm here. The novel's finale (which I will refrain from spoiling) is as witty, acerbic, and quirky as anything written in the English language.

A dark ride into the commercial depths of our society.

BOSWELL is Elkin's first book and remains extremely insightful even after thirty years. It is the story of a "bum" who dedicates his life to knowing celebrities. These range from a south american dictator to an Italian princess to a nobel prize winning scientist (for whom Boswell sabotages a multi-million dollar grant by claiming the grant giver called him "a little yid."). Key amongst his contacts is his very skillful lying and his eventual self-destruction of whatever relationship he may form with them. To him, it is more important that he know them and all their eccentricities, (which he keeps notecards on) than to be truly intimate with them. In fact, you could say that Boswell is not intimate with anybody, and that losing for him is half the fun. If there is any criticism I would give this book, it is that it tends to switch scenes, (many of which are ficticious "journal entries") without enough warning or understanding of what events are taking place. Whole scenarios are establish
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