Story Review: Love Is A Fallacy

It is my decided opinion that Max Shulman’s Love Is A Fallacy is one of the funniest and most clever short stories ever penned. And if you haven’t read it, you must – you simply have no idea what you are missing.

The tale is related to us in the first person, and revolves around a high-minded university student who introduces us to himself in these lofty terms:

Cool was I and logical. Keen, calculating, perspicacious, acute and astute – I was all of these. My brain was as powerful as a dynamo, precise as a chemist’s scales, as penetrating as a scalpel. And – think of it! – I only eighteen.

This brainy individual has a roommate by the name of Petey Bellows: dense, emotional, impressionable, and (worst of all, we are told) a faddist who is unfailingly “swept up in every new craze that comes along”.

One afternoon, Petey showcases this abominable weakness of his, bemoaning the fact that raccoon coats are the latest fashion – and the fact that he hasn’t got one. “I’d give anything for a raccoon coat,” he declares impulsively. “Anything!”

Our narrator, initially unsympathetic, quickly realizes that he might be able benefit from his friend’s new obsession. He offers to get Petey the desired object – in exchange for the exclusive privilege of dating Polly Espy, Petey’s girlfriend. Understandably, the poor fellow objects… but only at first. Soon his lust for the coat gains the upper hand, and a bargain is struck.

Our narrator assures us that he wants Polly only for a “shrewdly calculated, entirely cerebral reason.” As a freshman in law school he would, in only a few years, be entering the practice. And of all the successful lawyers he has observed, the vast majority are married to beautiful, gracious, and intelligent women. Polly fits all of these specifications… almost.

Beautiful she was. Gracious she was. Intelligent she was not. “But I believed that under my guidance she would smarten up. At any rate, it was worth a try. It is, after all, easier to make a beautiful dumb girl smart than to make an ugly smart girl beautiful.”

Our protagonist decides that the best way to begin sharpening his new date up is to give her a course in logic. A good plan, no? What better way to help this lovely but dull-witted creature attain a satisfactory level of intelligence? What better way to get the cog wheels of her mind turning?

It’s a good plan, indeed. Unfortunately, it begins to go awry in the final act, and soon backfires completely, leading up to an enormously funny climax that had me laughing out loud.

As you can see, Shulman’s tale is nothing complex; what makes it so enjoyable is the ample amount of cleverness and wit he laces into it. In some ways, the writing style reminds me of Wodehouse, in that it fits the bizarre story and oddball characters to a tee.

Read this one. It’s short, it’s creative, and it’s tons of fun. You’ll be laughing by the time you reach the end… and you’ll also be heartily grateful for those illogical, God-given gifts called emotions.

(Read Love Is A Fallacy here.)

20 thoughts on “Story Review: Love Is A Fallacy”

      1. I read the story this evening. I loved it, something I think you’d like would be the book “All Creatures Great and Small” by James Herriot. I just finished reading it a little while ago and it’s about a vet in 1930’s Yorkshire, England. It is a riot, lemme tell you, it’s a true story and so many of the stories in it are so funny you can’t make them up. The writing was pretty good and I thought about that when I read the story you recommended, I thought I’d return the favor and recommend it to you.

  1. BAHAHHAHAHAHA!!! That is absolutely hilarious!! So much for his ‘brilliant’ plan!! Of course, I love how much he prided himself, too.. “She was now worthy of me…” HA! That right there ought to tell you it’s going to fail…

    Thanks for sharing this!!

  2. Hi all,
    I read “Love is a Fallacy” during my university in 2009. It is such a fantastic funny love story. I enjoyed it a lot, and still I remember it.
    Love is really such a big fallacy. :)

  3. I read this story a while ago and I am not exaggerating If I said this is my favorite story. I wonder if you knew any other similar short stories? stories that have a hidden meaning?

  4. I love this story. I’ve read it bunch of times in college classes, because it’s a great introduction to fallacies, but even apart from that, it’s a clever story.

  5. I must say it is very funny and I really love I think anyone who reads it will love also I would encourage you to give it try.

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