A few years ago, Christopher Buckley wrote of Bruce Jay Friedman in the New York Times Book Review that he "has been likened to everyone from J. D. Salinger to Woody Allen," but that he is "Bruce Jay Friedman, sui generis, and no mean thing. No further comparisons are necessary." We are happy to report that he remains the same Bruce Jay Friedman in his unique, unblinking, and slightly tilted essays-collected for the first time-in Even the Rhinos Were Nymphos.
A butler school in Houston, a livestock auction in Little Rock, a home for "frozen guys" in California, JFK's humidor in Manhattan-all are jumping-off points for Friedman's baleful and sharply satirical scrutiny of American life and behavior in the second half of the twentieth century. Travel with Friedman from Harlem to Hollywood, from Port-au-Prince to Jerusalem to Etta's Eat Shop in Chicago. In these pieces, which were published in the last four decades in literary and mass-circulation magazines such as Playboy, Esquire, Rolling Stone, and Harper's, you'll meet such luminaries as Castro and Clinton, Natalie Wood and Clint Eastwood, and even Friedman's friends Irwin Shaw, Nelson Algren, and Mario Puzo. Friedman is a master of the essay, whether the subject is crime reporting ("Lessons of the Street"), Hollywood shenanigans ("My Life among the Stars"), or his outrageous adventures as the editor of pulp magazines (the classic "Even the Rhinos Were Nymphos").
Newsweek called Friedman "a marvelously gifted novelist" by Newsweek, and he has authoredplays, screenplays, and short stories. We could certainly sing his praises as a prolific writer, journalist, humorist, and social critic. But, as the New York Times Book Review tells us, being Bruce Jay Friedman is enough.