The Laugh Supper, authored/copyright by Leonard Ryzman, first published by Emerald Press in 2002; this e-book edition published 2014; “Printed by CM Digital, Adelaide, South Australia.”
Description/Discussion: The book is described as “a time-defying dialogue composed of imaginary conversations crammed with wisdom and laughter.” It is “time-defying” because the dialogue is provided by a remarkable and somewhat unlikely group of time travelers consisting of Leonardo Da Vinci (1452-1519); Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882); Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865); Groucho Marx (1890-1977); Mae West (1893-1980); perhaps lesser remembered but at the time well-known word supremacist and witty conversationalist Dorothy Parker (1893-1967); John F. Kennedy (1917-1963); Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968); and John Lennon of the Beatles (1940-1980). There are thirteen chapters in which this perhaps somewhat strange-appearing assembly of individuals discuss a myriad of subjects that range from invention, discoveries and art, to ways best suited for weight loss, understanding differences between the sexes, to the nature of, and relationship between, time and space and numerous other topics. The discussions may best be described as an assemblage of sharp repartee where the witty remarks often may be pithy, the observations/suggestions quite apropos and amusingly expressed, but all are quite fittingly couched in language and expressed in a manner one would expect from the person who is speaking. A brief sampling from an earlier chapter. Mae West: “A husband is a person who is under the impression he bosses the house when in reality, he only houses the boss.” Kennedy; “Agreed. Arguing with Jackie goes like this: I came! I saw! I concurred!” Mae: “Naturally, give a man a free hand and he’ll put it all over you.” Groucho: “when I was in hospital, a shapely nurse once had to hold my wrist to check my impulse. Well, men will be men.” Mae: “I wouldn’t want them to be anything else.” Kennedy: “I don’t think it’s all a one-way street though. Many women know how to use their curves to advantage.” Parker; “For every woman with a curve, there are several men with angles.” Then bits from later chapters: King; “Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We still have guided missiles and misguided man. We don’t need more judges, but more sound judgement. We need more warm hearts and fewer hot heads. We need to realize it is not the differences between us that is the difficulty; it is the indifferences.” Emerson: “People once shouted give me Liberty. Now they leave off the last word.” Groucho: “What’s wrong with the world isn’t the people that are trying to get something for nothing. It’s those who are succeeding.” Lennon: “Time you enjoy working isn’t time wasted. Lincoln: You will never find time for anything. If you want time, you must find it.” Parker: “Time isn’t passing me by. It’s trying to run over me.” The final chapter (13) provides a most thoughtful and interesting ‘wrap-up’.
Conclusion: The author has written a book that readers who lived during the mid-nineteen hundreds should greatly appreciate. Unlike today’s most usual experiences of communicating via an electronic devise, luncheons and dinners were spent leisurely in conversation with friends/acquaintances and pleasant repartee was a treasured part of the event. People did not just eat. They dined and conversed. As mentioned in Dorothy Parker’s short biography here, she was a member of the famed Algonquin Round Table where this was a daily occurrence. This was an activity prevalent to the times and others, who were not as fortunate and perhaps not as gifted, still would look forward to these same experiences as often as available. Thus, even if the reader is not of these generations, he/she might still appreciate the mental acuity demonstrated by these remarkable people and better understand the occasional comment on some of today’s interpersonal relationships from a member of an earlier generation. But if nothing more, the author’s opening quote attributed to Abraham Lincoln provides a most fitting conclusion for this book: “For those who like this kind of book, this is the kind of book they will like.”
5* Charmingly reminiscent, even enjoyable and possibly rewarding for younger generations.