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The Night Life of the Gods

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  486 ratings  ·  73 reviews
Thorne Smith's rapid-fire dialogue, brilliant sense of the absurd, and literary aplomb put him in the same category as the beloved P. G. Wodehouse. The Night Life of the Gods, the madcap story of a scientist who instigates a nocturnal spree with the Greek gods, is arguably his most sparkling comedic achievement.

Hunter Hawk has a knack for annoying his ultra respectable rel
Paperback, 320 pages
Published December 28th 1999 by Modern Library (first published 1931)
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Darien McCormack I love his books. My father left his Thorne Smith books to me, because he knew how much I enjoyed them. Great to meet another fan.

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Average rating 3.81  · 
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Henry Avila
Nov 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hunter Hawk is an unsuccessful inventor, he has seven explosions to prove this fact, causing much damage to his home, the now destitute silly sister , Alice, incompetent brother-in -law, Alfred Lambert, who squandered all their money not a businessman, the brat nephew Junior and nice niece Daphne...oh can't forget crusty grandpa Lambert, live with their rich, reluctant relation...not very well though, except for Daphne they detest each other. The latest unfortunate incident shattered the peace o ...more
May 03, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: comic-novels
2.5 stars rounded up to 3
I must admit, I knew very little about Thorne Smith before I picked this one up as a second hand penguin book. It is an oddity and Thorne Smith is much better known in America. He wrote semi-science fiction/fantasy novels. His best known creation is Topper, a much more well-known novel and a ghost story. Smith is a comic novelist, and has been compared to P G Wodehouse. He died in 1934 and this one was published in 1931 I think.
This offering is set in and around New York
Aug 02, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, humor-whimsy
One of Thorne Smith's better outings. When a scientist pairs up with a witch with the ability to bring statues to life, chaos ensues. The two decide it would be a good idea to bring the statues of the gods at the Metropolitan Museum to life. But the gods, it turns out, are too human by half -- they immediately start to cavort, bicker, drink, and carry on in a spree of epic proportions. The word "romp" could easily have been invented just to describe this sort of book.

I wonder whether the fairly
Nov 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Thorne Smith's The Nightlife of the Gods is the literary equivalence of a Frank Capra's screw-ball comedy film. Smith loved his drunken debaucheries, his mean-spirited pranksters, his heathenistic mythological creatures and of course all that drinking and sex. Classy double-entendre styled sex of course. This was the early 20th century. Yet he was also making lots of social commentary, much of it skewering the American upper-class and their often hypocritical morals. Thorne Smith certainly knew ...more
Mar 03, 2016 rated it liked it
Thorne satirises nearly everything in this generally enjoyable bit of fluff. Sometimes he is very funny but just as often can become laboured and tiresome. The novel is episodic and I feel that it would have gained by pruning. The book is a pleasant period piece but not a classic.
Oct 17, 2007 rated it it was amazing
The word "Madcap" was invented for books like "The Night of the Gods." The title sounds kind of serious - but it's about a doctor who invented a ray that can turn people into statues - which he gladly tested on his family. Somewhere down the line he meets a super cute nude (if memory serves me correctly) fairy - who then both went to a big museum in NYC to zap the God Statues with his ray - which made them come to life.

So with the Nude cute fairy on hand, the mad scientist, with Zeus, Mercury a
Aug 29, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humour, 2015-books
Was I reading the same book as those who rated it as four stars? Clunky writing and way too much scene setting. It takes half of the book to get to the gods. However there were some slightly amusing happenings once they joined the cast of characters.

I think Smith, like Nevil Shute, had better plot ideas than ability as a writer, based on this book. This might make a very funny film with good scriptwriters.
Sep 01, 2010 rated it it was ok
This book suffers from a bad case of being nowhere near as funny as it thinks it is. The story is okay, but most of the characters are not terribly likable (and many can barely can be told apart) and the wit falls flat because it's fairly juvenille and sort of elitist at the same time (you definitely get the impression that no one is cool enough to hang out with these people- cool being defined as heavy drinking and irresponsible, naturally). Additionally, despite little moments and gems of wisd ...more
Jun 28, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: light-fantasy
It's possible you just need to be at the right point in your life for this book, and I'm too far past that.

It was zany and madcap, but for a book that was intended to be humorous, it got perhaps two chuckles from me, and that's about it. I found the characters largely mean-spirited and not the kind of people I'd want anything to do with, so their frathouse shenanigans really weren't all that entertaining.
Aug 26, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
First published in the early 30s, this comic fantasy about a drink-loving American inventor who brings statues of the gods back to life for some louche adventures is pretty creaky. He's no Wodehouse and the plot seems at times like he was making it up as he went along. However there are some nicely witty and/or sarcastic lines scattered throughout and it passed the time well enough - and the Rodin-esque final scene was charming.
✘✘ Sarah ✘✘ (former Nefarious Breeder of Murderous Crustaceans)
This was a fun read but not nearly as funny or crazy as a P.G. Wodehouse book. Still a good read though and some scenes are hilarious:)
Hákon Gunnarsson
May 16, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: humor, fantasy
I read this because Thorne Smith has been compared to one of my favorite writers, P.G. Wodehouse. When I began reading The Night Life of the Gods I didn't know anything about the writer, but my dad remembered having read Topper. He didn't remember if he had liked it or not though because nearly half a century had passed.

I'll say this for The Night Life of the Gods: it begins well enough with a comic "mad scientist" scene.

The scientist succeeds in what he had been working on, and has to celebra
Apr 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
Reasons for picking it up: Saw it on a random favorites list on GoodReads, thought it would be fun to read.

Where did I get it from: Purchased it on Amazon for the Kindle.(If you choose to read the book you can read it directly from the GoodReads website for free.)

What this book is about:

What happens when a scientist discovers how to turn living material into stone and back again at will and decides to bring the Greek Gods to life.

My opinion:

Originally written in the 1930s (published in '31)by Th
Trenton Hayes
Oct 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book I just adored, about the time I was in 8th grade. The humor was 'adult' and it is clever and imaginative and still has much to recommend it. An 8th grader, it seems,is scandalized almost exactly as much by louche behaviour and sexual licentiousness as the anticipated reader in the 30s was, seemingly.

Rereading this one was a bit disappointing. It plays a bit like a 30s bedroom comedy--which makes alot of sense--but my tastes have changed long ago, and what seemed daring and smart and cl
Joseph Pinchback
Mar 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
What a fun little book. I think our culture has moved beyond the point where anything can be ribald any more. Things are either explicit or they aren't. And that's a bit of a shame, because there's some fun to be had with subtlety. You feel like you're getting away with something. At any rate, The Night Life Of The Gods was written in 1931, and it is ribald as all hell. It centers around a guy who can turn people to stone and stone statues to people. From this rather ridiculous premise comes a p ...more
WT Sharpe
Jul 30, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Night Life of the Gods had me rolling. Although Thorn Smith died in 1934, his humor has lost none of its edge. Perhaps that's because he focused on those timeless themes that speak to readers across the generations; sex, drinking, and non-stop partying. Highly recommended, as is his better known book Topper, in which two fun-loving ghosts attempt to pull the conservative and straitlaced banker Cosmo Topper into a life of, well… sex, drinking, and non-stop partying.

(First read in July of 2011, re
Dean Economy
Feb 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing
One of the few books I can read every few years and it is always makes me laugh. Thorne Smith wrote this book in 1931 and it is a classic. If you are in the mood for light reading that will make you smile this is the book for you.
Oct 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-i-own
Fantastic, it provides chuckles, giggles and out in the open laughter. Well written, witty without being either too dry or too earthy. Intelligent without being snobbish. Smith is the American answer to Oscar Wilde.
Nov 09, 2009 rated it really liked it
This book took me forever to get through, but I think that's more my fault that its. It was pretty funny (in the Wodehouse vein, but slightly less wit and quite a bit more...deviancy?) with some LOL moments, which I always appreciate.
Caroline Niziol
Sep 06, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
The 1931 novel The Night Life of the Gods, by Thorne Smith, opens with a bang—literally. Once again, Hunter Hawk, a brilliant and madcap scientist, creates an explosion in his laboratory—continuing his predilection to rattle and annoy his family. Only his niece, Daffy, who loves and admires her uncle, takes an interest in his mysterious experiments, the latest of which permits him to turn flesh into stone. Various high jinx ensure as Hawk indulges his desire to annoy his family and acquaintances ...more
Alison C
Feb 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
In Night Life of the Gods, by Thorne Smith, we meet Hunter Hawk, wealthy eccentric scientist in 1920s America, who, after numerous explosions, manages to invent an "atomic ray" that turns living beings into statues, and a second ray that restores them to their original state. He meets Megaera, the 900-year-old descendent of one of the ancient Furies and daughter of one of the last living leprechauns, and she has the magic to turn statues into living beings. Together, the two are invincible, espe ...more
Jan 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
So what would happen if you could turn statues into living, breathing people? And what if those statues were Venus, Diana, Perseus (with Medusa's head), Apollo, Mercury, Hebe and Neptune?

You guessed it - a very bizarre story.

This is the first book I have read written by Thorne Smith (first published in 1931). However, as a kid I remember watching the TV series 'Topper" and Smith was the creator of Topper. Google Topper for more info.

Night Life is a rather wild ride starting off with our scientis
Sheldon Wiebe
Aug 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
To be clear, this is not the edition of Nightlife of the Gods that I read - the Ballantine edition that I haul out every few years a reread hasn't been in print for over 20 years.

Thorne Smith wrote a number of classic fantasies including Topper (made into a couple of movies and TV series) and I Married a Witch (one of the inspirations for the TV series Bewitched).

Nightlife of the Gods is the story of an eccentric, wealthy inventor who invents a ray that turns organics into stone (and back and ag
Mar 07, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first 139 pages get 2 stars (it's just a bunch of meanless meandering, saved only by witty dialogue) but the rest of the book gets a solid 4 stars. So I'll settle in the middle and rate it a 3 overall.

The first part of the book deals with an eccentric inventor, his stuffy extended family, neighborly disputes and leprechaun-like creatures (seriously). I was mind-numbingly bored until the ancient gods & goddesses came to life in early 1930s New York City. Mercury/Hermes (my favorite god) was e
i don't recall, now, how i ever came across his work. thorne smith was a contemporary of scott fitzgerald and ernest hemingway, although he didn't keep company with either, to my knowledge. he died in 1934.

this? is my absolute favorite thorne smith (since when did we drop the initial j. at the beginning of his name?) novel. as much as i loved "rain in the doorway" and "topper," "the night life of the gods" is his bawdiest, most inventive, laugh-out-loud funniest, and tenderly, wistfully heartbre
Laline Paull
Apr 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This glorious comic novel is the first 'adult' book I ever read - it is my family's favourite novel. Growing up, I was sure that I was Megaera, and was permanently on the lookout for my own Hunter Hawk. It took a while to separate fiction from so-called-reality, and I'm not sure I have even yet. Nor am I sure Thorne Smith ever did, or wanted to.

I love love love Thorne Smith. Buy this book, hook up with a passionate witch, book a whole floor of a hotel and order in a flock of drinks. Lose some c
Jul 10, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Criticizing an Explosion, Blotto's Tail Astounds, Reluctant Statues, The Little Man and the Scarecrow, A Furious Reception, The Invasion of Hawk's Bed, Playful Petrification, Meg Removes her Pulloffs, A Nude Descends the Stairs, An Epidemic of Escapes, The Pursuing Beard, Looking the Gods Over, The Gods Step Down, The Gods Get Dressed, The Gods Get Housed, Neptune Gets His Fish, Meg, Mercury, & Betts, Inc., A Demoralizing Tank Party, The Gods Leave Town, Battle and Flight, The Gods on Trial, The ...more
Dawn Lawson
Feb 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Hands down, this man is the funniest writer I have ever had the privilege of reading. My dad had his books. I was bored in school. I would have a Thorne Smith book open behind whatever text book I was supposed to be looking at, and I would get busted every time because I could not keep myself from bursting into laughter. Math is NOT funny. I have a first edition Thorne Smith 3-Bagger, somewhere around 80 years old. It is held together with duct tape, but still very readable and precious. Look fo ...more
Feb 17, 2015 rated it liked it
Completely charming and refreshingly lacking a starchy "moral" core. Have never read anything like it. Because it doesn't have a particular ax to grind doesn't meet it's without satiric targets or points to be made. Although at times the turns of phrase obscured the action a bit, there's so much action to be had I'm not complaining. Pleasantly surprised at how much sex, nudity and mayhem for mayhem's sake there was. Hooray for Thorne Smith!
Jan 18, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hmm, it's not that I ddin't enjoy this book. On the contrary, the plot is original—at least I've never encountered it before—the characters well developed and the conlcusion logical. The style is reminiscent of The Great Gatsby—indeed they're contemporaries—so don't bother picking this book up if you didn't enjoy its predecessor. All told, I prefer this book to The Great Gatsby because it has more of a storyline and doesn't tend to ramble on when there's nothing left to say.
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What's the Name o...: Fantasy (probably eBook) [s] 2 81 Jun 16, 2012 07:46AM  

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James Thorne Smith, Jr. was an American writer of humorous supernatural fantasy fiction under the byline Thorne Smith. He is best known today for the two Topper novels, comic fantasy fiction involving sex, much drinking and supernatural transformations. With racy illustrations, these sold millions of copies in the 1930s and were equally popular in paperbacks of the 1950s.

Smith was born in Annapoli

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