Sunday, December 28, 2008

72. The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis

by Max Shulman

Another one I borrowed because Breathless wanted to read Potatoes Are Cheaper. This book, published in 1951 and subtitled “Eleven Campus Stories,” is a collection of short stories written by Max Shulman from 1945 through 1951 and previously published in such magazines as Good Housekeeping, Cosmopolitan, and The Saturday Evening Post. In his opening note, Shulman notes that they “are, therefore, clean and wholesome narratives” (this was definitely the early days of Cosmopolitan!). All of the stories have college student Dobie Gillis as the main character, but his age and major vary from story to story, as do the girls he is chasing.

The book was the basis for the 1953 movie The Affairs of Dobie Gillis as well as the 1959-1963 CBS TV series The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, with Dwayne Hickman and Bob ("Gilligan") Denver. I haven’t seen either, but from reading the description of the movie plot, it seems to be based on the book’s story called “She Shall Have Music,” with a little bit of “Love of Two Chemists” (a chemistry lab explosion) and “The Unlucky Winner” (a plagiarized English essay). Dobie is in high school when the TV series starts, and later briefly in the Army and then in junior college. Money-hungry Thalia Menninger from “The Sugar Bowl” is often Dobie’s dream girl, and the stories “You Think You Got Trouble?” and “Everybody Loves My Baby” form the basis of episodes in the series.

For me, the best story in the book (which is also the title and basis for one of the TV series episodes)is “Love is a Fallacy.” Apparently it’s often used in beginning logic classes as a humorous way to introduce types of fallacies. Despite the importance of a raccoon coat to the plot, this story and the others are so humorous that such dated references can be easily overlooked.

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