Pal Joey

Pal Joey : The Novel and the Libretto and Lyrics

3.46 (15 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author)  , By (author)  , By (author)  , Foreword by 

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For its 75th anniversary and Frank Sinatra's centennial: the Jazz Age masterpiece that inspired the iconic Sinatra film and the hit Broadway musical, and featuring the musical's libretto and lyrics On the seedy side of Chicago nightlife in the 1930s, Joey Evans is a poor man's Bing Crosby--a big-talking, small-time nightclub crooner down on his luck but always on the make. In slangy, error-littered letters signed "Pal Joey," he recounts his exploits with brash nightclub managers, shady business partners, and every pretty girl ("mouse") he meets. Charismatic yet conniving, Pal Joey is a smooth operator whose bravado and big ideas disguise a far less self-assured soul, caught up in the rags-to-riches dream of the Jazz Age. Originally serialized in The New Yorker and the inspiration for the 1940 Rodgers and Hart musical of the same name and the 1957 film starring Frank Sinatra, Kim Novak, and Rita Hayworth, Pal Joey is the story of a true "heel," as complex and memorable as any antihero in American literature. For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,500 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 208 pages
  • 127 x 193 x 15mm | 136g
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 0143107755
  • 9780143107750
  • 1,593,141

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Review quote

"O'Hara, by many standards, including sales, is one of the most successful writers in the English language. . . . [His character] Joey Evans was a lowlife heel who bragged, charmed, cheated and lied his way into low-watt stardom. But as characters go, he sure lasted." --Scott Simon, NPR's Weekend Edition "As Mad Men continues to draw big ratings, I sense that O'Hara's moment for a really breakout revival . . . may at last be upon us. . . . If this is your first encounter with John O'Hara, I can only say, in the words of Joey: 'Low and behold.' " --Thomas Mallon, from the Foreword "There can be no doubt but that [Pal Joey is] part of his best work." --The New York Times "O'Hara was probably the most gifted writer of dialogue in mid-20th century American fiction. And when he gets around to fracturing dialogue the way people do in real life, he's very funny. He doesn't overdo it. It bounces right up from the page at you. If you read the sentences out loud--and of course what he did was adapt his book for the stage so they could be read out loud--they just land on a dime, all of them." --Thomas Mallon, NPR's Weekend Edition "If ever an author was ripe for a critical rebranding, it's John O'Hara." --Jonathan Dee, from the Introduction to Ten North Frederick "O'Hara remains one of America's greatest social novelists of the twentieth century. . . . He captured one of the most far-reaching social transformations in American history." --The Atlantic "[O'Hara] was as acute a social observer as Fitzgerald, as spare a stylist as Hemingway." --Los Angeles Times "An author I love is John O'Hara. . . . I think he's been forgotten by time, but for dialogue lovers, he's a goldmine of inspiration." --Douglas Coupland, Shelf Awareness "O'Hara occupies a unique position in our contemporary literature. . . . He is the only American writer to whom America presents itself as a social scene in the way it once presented itself to Henry James, or France to Proust." --Lionel Trilling, The New York Times

"Pal Joey is successful as satire, because Mr. O'Hara is not afraid to go the whole hog." --Edmund Wilson, The New Republic
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About John O'Hara

John O'Hara (1905-1970) was one of the most prominent American writers of the twentieth century. Championed by Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Dorothy Parker, he wrote seventeen novels, including Appointment in Samarra, his first; BUtterfield 8, which was made into a film starring Elizabeth Taylor; Pal Joey, which was adapted into a Broadway musical as well as a film starring Frank Sinatra; and Ten North Frederick, which won the National Book Award. He has had more stories published in The New Yorker than anyone else in the history of the magazine. Born in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, he lived for many years in New York and in Princeton, New Jersey, where he died. Lorenz Hart (1895-1943) was an acclaimed lyricist best known for his collaborations with Richard Rodgers on a number of Broadway scores. His many hit songs with Rodgers include "Blue Moon," "My Funny Valentine," and, for Pal Joey, "Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered" and "I Could Write a Book." Born in Harlem, Hart spent his life in New York City. Richard Rodgers (1902-1979) was one of the most influential composers in Broadway history. A longtime collaborator with Lorenz Hart and Oscar Hammerstein II, he wrote more than forty musicals, including South Pacific, The King and I, The Sound of Music, and Oklahoma! He was the first person to win all the major awards in his field--a Grammy, an Emmy, an Oscar, a Tony, and a Pulitzer Prize--and, along with Hammerstein, was named one the twenty most influential artists of the twentieth century by Time magazine and CBS News. Broadway's Richard Rodgers Theatre was dedicated to him in 1990. Thomas Mallon (foreword) is the author of numerous novels, including Finale: A Novel of the Reagan Years and Watergate, which was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award. The recipient of Guggenheim and Rockefeller fellowships, as well as the National Book Critics Circle Award for reviewing and the Vursell prize of the American Academy of Arts and Letters for distinguished prose style, he has been published in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and The New York Times Book Review. He is a professor of English at George Washington University.
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Rating details

15 ratings
3.46 out of 5 stars
5 20% (3)
4 13% (2)
3 60% (9)
2 7% (1)
1 0% (0)
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