. . . but the better book of Groucho memoirs to begin with is GROUCHO AND ME, published in 1959, several years earlier than MEMOIRS OF A MANGY LOVER (1963). In each book Groucho Marx's unique wordplay, jaundiced viewpoint and occasional tracks into surrealism entertain. But in GROUCHO AND ME there is no "me" other than Groucho himself, and not only is his wit enteraining, we get a coherent family picture of the Marx parents and their five boisterous children, growing up in near-poverty in the early 20th Century in the Yorkville (upper East Side, but too upper ever to be posh) district of Manhattan. Later on Groucho touches -- with some skips and jumps but chronologically -- upon the other places the gradually more successful family troupe lived, from Chicago to Broadway to Hollywood, where they hit the celebrated American "instant stardom" after paying dues for nearly thirty years, most of it not in the first-class venues.
Now, I will not maintain that MEMOIRS OF A MANGY LOVER is "that's left-overs" in any derogatory way. Groucho's essays definitely entertain, but they are merely that, comic sketches or essays, usually arranged around the subject of Sex (Men chasing women, almost always), with occasional forays into politics and society, but only in an abstract way. Only the person with a flair for the artwork in this book and in Groucho's engaging but occasionally crotchety tone would put this book down as a product of the turn of the Sixties (as said, 1963).
The actual product I read -- the paperback edition from Da Capo Press -- has a printing error which is what led me to take my estimation from four stars down to three. The very end of the book is entitled "A Note on the Author by Groucho Marx," and it surely was meant to be short, but I can't say how short. My edition of MEMOIRS OF A MANGY LOVER -- the only edition available new that I know of -- snaps off at mid-sentence at the end of the page: turn the page and there is nothing there but the publisher's UPC code! Now, Groucho loves to talk about himself by talking around himself, so to speak; and he certainly had a talent for setting us up for puns, situational follies and quick turns of speech ("Last night I shot an elephant in my pajamas; how he got into my pajamas I'll never know.") But it wouldn't in any way be a Marxian touch for a book to end in mid-sentence. Beyond transferring data, are these things still proof-read these days for line intergrity and page coherence? We, the reader, deserve more for our $15.95 than 213 pages that end with what could only charitably be described as a production blunder. After all, in memoirs as well as Vaudeville, the closing act has to be strong.