When I was growing up I often spent time with a relative who had a subscription to The New Yorker magazine. She had traveled to that metropolis many times and wanted to keep up with what was happening there. I was too young to appreciate anything in the magazine except the cartoons and the colorful covers. I didn't understand what a literary treasure trove it was.
I have come to see the error of my ways. I am especially fond of and fascinated with the early history of The New Yorker when it was lorded over by its founder Harold Ross. The first issue came out in 1925 and Mr. Ross remained the magazine's editor until his death in 1951.
Mr. Ross and his crew - James Thurber, E.B. White, fiction editor Katharine White, theater critic Wolcott Gibbs, and others - are the shining stars in Thomas Vinciguerra's Cast of Characters. I discovered this book in the new non-fiction display at the library the other day and snatched it up. As Mr. Thurber and Mr. White are two of my favorite writers, I couldn't resist.
And it is great to find a book about the magazine that features so much information about Katharine White whose intelligence and clear thinking kept the bombastic Mr. Ross in line. (If you haven't read Onward and Upward in the Garden, a collection of her columns, I can surely recommend that you do.)
I have only read the first two chapters of this tale and am already in thrall of the talent that came together in the editorial offices of the magazine. There is brief background information on each writer and editor and generous examples of their work - which of course is the best part - all held together by Mr. Vinciguerra's fine prose.
I am looking forward to spending the weekend in the company of this erudite, witty, and charming cast of characters.
I'm not at all surprised that you like Onward and Upward in the Garden. Have you read Two Gardeners: A Friendship in Letters by Katherine S. White and Elizabeth Lawrence? Elizabeth Lawrence is one of my favorite garden writers, erudite and interesting. I think I finally have all her books.ReplyDelete
Hi, Joan. I have not read 'Two Gardeners' so thank you for the suggestion. As someone who hates to touch dirt, I get all my gardening experiences through books. One I especially liked was 'The Gardener's Year' by Karel Capek. And then of course there is our favorite: Beverley Nichols.Delete
Belle, I think (poor memory) some years ago I suggested Maeve Brennan and her great book "The Long-Winded Lady: Notes from the New Yorker " What a wonderful magazine.ReplyDelete
Tullik, your memory is better than you think. You did indeed recommend 'The Long-Winded Lady'. I took your suggestion, read it, and wrote about it here on December 17, 2012.Delete
I am learning about all sorts of authors who wrote for The New Yorker - back in the day. I especially like reading about the editing of stories that went on and the comments made to the writers that were not quite up to TNY's standards.
Have you read 'Between You & Me' by Mary Morris? She worked in the copy editing department for many years and has some fine stories to tell. What a group!
I would love to read this book--what an interesting "cast of characters," indeed. I love Thurber and White, and am now adding Onward and Upward in the Garden to my list of books to look for.ReplyDelete
Hi, Kathy. I am trying to read a chapter a day. It is quite entertaining. And there are black and white photos of some of the 'characters' which is always helpful.Delete
Onward and Upward is a delight. You will enjoy it.
I recommend E. J. Kahn's About the New Yorker and Me, and Year of Change when you are ready to move on to the post-Ross years.ReplyDelete
Thanks for this recommendation. I really don't know anything about TNY after Ross. The book is now on my list.Delete