Get Lost in Playboy’s Silverstein Around the World
By
J. Gordon
7/6/2008 10:55:26 PM

A lot of people know Shel Silverstein as the author and illustrator of The Giving Tree, A Light in the Attic, and Where the Sidewalk Ends. However, many aren’t aware that Silverstein built his cartooning career working for Hugh Hefner and contributing to Playboy magazine, 1957-1968, creating dazzling comic travelogues of his journeys around the world on Hef’s charge card. What a job!

In Playboy’s Silverstein Around the World [Fireside/Simon and Schuster], the magazine has faithfully photocopied each of Silverstein’s pages, while also including a fond foreword by Hugh Hefner, an enlightening introduction by Mitch Myers (who knew that Silverstein wrote the lyrics to Johnny Cash’s “A Boy Named Sue” or Dr. Hook’s “On The Cover of the Rolling Stone”?), a host of never-before-seen photos, drawings, and rare illuminating biographical detail.

This unique collection is the legacy of the close personal friendship between Hugh Hefner and Shel Silverstein over those changing times in America. Hefner calls Silverstein, “A Renaissance man,” and these are not empty words as the following 180-odd pages prove. Beginning in May 1957 with “Return to Tokyo,” the pieces reproduced in this book playfully chart Silverstein’s “wandering everyman” excursions from Scandinavia to Africa and the Middle East, from Paris and London to Moscow, ending in the summer of 1968 with the two-part epic, “Silverstein Among the Hippies.”

Perhaps the most appealing thing about these comics and writings is that Silverstein, like his publisher, was playful without being sleazy, sexy without being cheap, and true to the heart of Playboy magazine back in the 1950s and 60s as it led a social revolution. Fans of Shel Silverstein, and/or fans of Playboy, travel notes, or amusement in general, will find the book a delight. The rest of you can get lost.

U.S. $24.00

 

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