Thursday, July 18, 2013

"a Morris Finestein"

Posted for John:

In our excellent discussion of "The Ballad of the Sad Café" last night, one point we didn't get to: on p. 9 in the edition most of us had, speaking of Cousin Lymon, "one of the twins" says: "I'll be damned if he ain't a regular Morris Finestein." The narrator goes on to explain:

Morris Finestein was a person who had lived in the town years before. He was only a quick, skipping little Jew who cried if you called him a Christ-killer, and ate light bread and canned salmon every day. A calamity had come over him and he had moved away to Society City. But since then if a man were prissy in any way, or if a man ever wept, he was known as a Morris Finestein.

"Well, he is afflicted," said Stumpy MacPhail. 'There is some cause.'"

I infer the "calamity" was something that directly revealed that Finestein was homosexual. What makes the townsmen think of him at this point is the fact that Cousin Lymon has started crying. I don't know if MacPhail's comment implies he thinks maybe Lymon isn't actually a Finestein. But interesting that nothing further is said about this possible aspect of Lymon.

Anyway, I hope Finestein had a better time in Society City—sounds more like his kind of place.

P.S. I remember years (decades) ago running across a parody entitled "The Salad of the Bad Café". I just googled this title, and find that it is listed in the table of contents of Twentieth Century Parody: American and British, ed. Burling Lowrey and Nathaniel Benchley. The author of the parody was Julian MacLaren Ross, a British novelist. I haven't recovered the text. The googling also turned up all kinds of more recent stuff with the Salad title—a performance art piece, an Australian short story ...

1 comment:

Tim said...

If you find a link to the parody, I do hope you'll share it. Just the title—"The Salad of the Bad Café"—has my funny bone salivating. (Please don't try to picture this!)