Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Potatoes Are Cheaper

By Max Shulman

It's 1936, the heart of the Depression, and two young men, Morris Katz and his cousin have hit on a way out of poverty to a better life. They'll enroll in college and find rich, homely Jewish girls and woo them and marry them.
They get the necessary cash together for the first semester and they are off and running. Morris hits upon the only daughter of a local theater magnate, wooing her with poetry written by his cousin Crip. But then the girlfriend sends the poem into the college literary magazine and it is a big hit with the editor, a gorgeous gentile girl, Bridget, who Morris falls for hard. Now he has to choose between money and security and love and happiness, with everyone in his family pulling for money and security, while his heart and loins are pulling for love and happiness. He better make the right choice because his whole future depends on it. And even if he does marry the gentile, he tells himself, "Of course she [his mother] might topple over dead when I told her about Bridget, but that didn't seem too likely. Jewish mothers do very little actual dying from shicksas. A lot of hemorrhaging, of course. But actual dying is seldom."

This was a very funny and entertaining novel. Morris and his various family members are all amusing as are his two prospective brides. Eventually, Morris makes his choice and it turns out to be the best one and the story ends happily, dilemma solved. And it was a lot of fun getting there, for sure.

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