The Telephone Booth Indian

A. J. Liebling, Author, Roy Blount, jr., Photographer North Point Press $9.95 (148p) ISBN 978-0-86547-451-2
The title of this 1942 collection of Liebling's early New Yorker pieces refers to those lowlife entrepreneurs whose offices were the telephone booths of New York City, where they waited for associates to call them since they didn't even have a nickel to phone on their own. The 10 essays, profiling a variety of scamsters and promoters, showcase Liebling's dry wit, his sharp commentary on the mores of the time and his knack for eliciting hilarious quotes (a carnival operator explains that a so-called Hawaiian dancer ``was not a Hawaiian but she had once eaten some Hawaiian pineapple''; a ``pillar'' of the hat-check industry observes, ``Better a kid who takes ten in tips and knocks a buck, than a dummy who gets half the tips and turns in all she gets. But please don't use my name, because on such a question I hate to quote myself''). Not all of the businessmen in the book are as low on the totem pole as telephone booth Indians. Liebling takes on, and shows no mercy to, such luminaries as the ``head man'' of the Scripps-Howard newspapers and the Shubert brothers theater moguls. For example, he quotes J. J. Shubert as shouting during a rehearsal, ``There is only one captain on this ship, the director and me!'' (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/01/1990
Release date: 10/01/1990
Open Ebook - 144 pages - 978-0-307-48066-8
Paperback - 272 pages - 978-0-7679-1736-0
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