New York: Boni and Liveright, (1922). First edition. 8vo, 256pp; green cloth. Ownership inscription; very slight lean; covers showing some marks and mottling, with spine stamping dulled, still a very good copy in a moderately soiled and edgeworn dust jacket with a few small chips and tears. Item #205636
Exceptionally scarce first and only novel by this comparatively obscure member of the Algonquin Round Table coterie. John Peter Toohey was himself a press agent for Broadway productions and co-wrote a couple of modestly successful plays (one of which, "Swifty," provided one of Humphrey Bogart's first roles). A regular at the Algonquin, a drinking buddy of Harold Ross, and a friendly antagonist of Alexander Woollcott, Toohey's enduring claim to fame comes from his involvement at the start of Ross's nascent weekly magazine: at an Algonquin lunch where Ross was trying to decide what to call his new publication, aimed at an audience of discerning New Yorkers, Toohey suggested that he simply call it "The New Yorker." In thanks, Ross and partner Raoul Fleischmann gave Toohey a gift of shares in the company. This novel, of which scant numbers can have been printed, is a boisterous affair. It is seldom encountered at all, much less in the original dust jacket. The jacket, with its Jazz-age illustration of a stylish couple, continues the descriptive language of the subtitle in a text printed inside the image an hourglass: "Being an account of the Strange and Surprising Adventures of JIMMY MARTIN, Press Agent and Citizen of the World, Wherein it is Recorded How He Wooed a Stage-struck Maiden, Aroused the Fevered Interest of a Royal Court, Provoked an Uprising of Painted Savages from an island in the SOUTH SEAS, Assisted a Millionaire to Repay an Ancient Grudge, Caused the Ghost of IBSEN to Utter Low and Distressing Moans, Received a Fierce Blow in the Midriff from a Religious Boomerang, Rang Down the Curtain on the Wily Schemes of a Pseudo-Princeling from INDIA'S Sunny Clime, and Otherwise Comported Himself with Commendable Diligence and Enthusiasm, Albeit a Highly Deplorable Lack of Dignity."