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Speak Easily: 12/18/15
Speak Easily by Clarence Budington Kelland was originally serialized as "Footlights." Set contemporaneously in the early days of the Great Depression, it's the story of a life long learner of independent means being thrust into the middle of mob life.
Reading this book felt like I was reading a crib sheet for a dozen different plots set within Terry Pratchett's Ankh-Moorpork. As the edition I was reading was a British one, it's entirely possible he did read the book. I'm not saying that he stole from Kelland, rather that fans of Discworld looking to expand their horizons, should read Speak Easily.
The revised title comes from the main character's inability, or perhaps, unwillingness to use slang. Keeping in mind that this story also takes place during Prohibition, it's his malaprop for the speak easy.
Imagine if you will the two main characters of Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic merged together into one person. That's our protagonist. He's a life long student, kicked out of university, now carrying (albeit in a mental format) a phrase book into the inner city. Now give him Moist Von Lipwig's skill at making the impossible happen and put him in charge of a musical review as unlikely to succeed as the original envisioned play in The Producers.
Now imagine that plot turned into a film. Well, look no further than the 1932 adaptation staring Buster Keaton and Jimmy Durante. And thanks to Youtube, you can watch it!