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Lot 108: Uncommon & Funny Letter by New Yorker Humorist, S.J. Perelman re: Michael Korda
Presidential Letters, Free Franks & Speeches: Washington to Bush + Important Autographs in History, Science & the Arts
26 October 2016
New York, NY, USALive Auction
Description: Uncommon Letter Signed by New Yorker Humorist, S.J. Perelman: “If only those lady writers would take their $400,000 paperback sales, shut up, and go back to Council Bluffs” ********** PERELMAN, S(IDNEY) J(OSEPH). (1904-1979). American humorist and screenwriter. TLS. (“Sid”). 1p. 8vo. New York, January 20, 1978. On The New Yorker stationery. To journalist and historian HERBERT MITGANG (1920-2013) who, in addition to editing Washington, D.C. in Lincoln’s Time, wrote Lincoln As They Saw Him and Dangerous Dossiers: Exposing the Secret War Against America’s Greatest Authors. ********** “Thank you for your very kind note. Nowadays my random appearances in this journal seem to evoke three types of response – requests from high-school freshmen in jocular style begging me to read what they call their ‘effusions’ and suggest possible markets, long and densely written letters in pencil from folk in state mental institutions, and bargain solicitations from The New Republic. How pleasant, therefore, to hear from a man of sensibility whose scalp crawls as does mine at the mere mention of Michael Korda. You are so right about the miasma of opportunism and stench that arises from the celebratory rites in the Book Review. If only those lady writers would take their $400,000 paperback sales, shut up, and go back to Council Bluffs… Let’s have that lunch whenever you’re free…” ********** After publishing his first book in 1929, Dawn Ginsbergh’s Revenge, Perelman worked on screenplays for the Marx Brothers’ memorable movies Monkey Business and Horse Feathers. He is best known for his humorous and wide-ranging stories in The New Yorker. At his death Perelman left an unfinished memoir entitled The Hindsight Saga, published posthumously with other writings in The Last Laugh. ********** Our letter mentioning bestselling author and Simon & Schuster Editor-in-Chief Michael Korda (b.1933) was penned shortly after the publishing success of Korda’s Power! How to Get It, How to Use It and its sequel Success! Korda’s career at Simon & Schuster spans four decades and includes working with authors ranging from William L. Shirer and Harold Robbins to Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon. ********** Perelman’s comment about “lady writers” and their paperbacks, is likely a reference to Council Bluffs, Iowa author Janet Dailey (1944-2013) who broke new ground in 1974 by becoming Canadian publisher Harlequin’s first American writer. Extremely prolific as well as popular, the best-selling writer is noted for writing novels set in every state of the Union. A liberal magazine since its inception in 1914, The New Republic underwent an editorial shakeup between 1974 and 1979 and suffered financial losses as a result of that instability. ********** Mitgang enjoyed a nearly 50-year career at The New York Times, during which he served on the editorial board, helped create the op-ed page and authored book reviews. ********** Our humorous letter is folded and near fine. With the original envelope, on which Perelman has crossed out The New Yorker return address and typed in his Gramercy Park Hotel address.