Books: Surgical Instruments

LOOK WHO'S TALKING—S. 7. Perelman—Random House ($2).

Peculiar to this century is a form of wit inadequately known as screwball. Its method is free association; its state of mind is somewhere between a power dive and a tail spin. It has close affinity with hot jazz, surrealist painting and the deranged poetry of Rimbaud. It calls for an exquisite sense of cliche and mimicry, and a nihilism which delights in knocking over-crystallized words, objects and gestures into glassy pieces that cut each other. Most advanced living practitioner of this form of wit is James...

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