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Harpo Speaks !
by Harpo Marx
Speaks is definitely one of the best books I have ever read by anyone, anywhere, not just among books about the Marx Brothers, but among books on any subject. Even though it was several hundreds of pages long, I wanted several hundred more pages when I got to the end. It was so totally engrossing. Harpo seems to have an almost inexhaustible supply of hilarious true stories. I wonder why more of these hysterically funny tales and practical jokes were not used in Marx Brothers movies. There are, it must be said, also several serious passages -- some heartbreaking, some suspenseful, some inspirational. There are parts of this book which read like a wonderful manual on how to have a great marriage and adopt and raise four great kids, which is exactly what Harpo and Susan did. Harpo was an extremely interesting person who surrounded himself with many extremely interesting friends. Harpo has many lessons to teach on how to get the most out of every moment, and out of life. This book makes you wish you had met Harpo; it makes you wish you had been one of his friends. He shares so much in this book that is personal that reading it makes you feel almost as if you are one of his friends. Rowland Barber helped Harp get his great story across in a fairly orderly manner, but the content of the book is all from Harpo's fascinating mind, big heart, and his numerous, diverse, extraordinary experiences. This book is about Harp's and his brothers' career(s) in show business, but it is about so much more than that; there are amazing true stories about poverty & affluence, tough urban street life, Vaudeville, Broadway, Hollywood, international espionage, love, family, friendship, life & death, crime & punishment, failure & success, and more. There are also some wonderful photographs.
To Marx Brothers fans who have yet to read this book: Put it off as long as you can, because once you are finished, you will wish you could read it again for the first time. Harpo's life was interesting in itself, but it also frequently intersected with the lives of other fascinating people, most notably his own brothers and drama critic Alexander Woolcott. Marx also was part of the legendary Algonquin Round Table; he's got plenty to say about that. Wait'll you hear about what it means to "throw a Gookie." You'll never be able to watch a Marx Brothers movie again without looking for the Gookie!
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