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Life Stories: Profiles from The New Yorker

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4.15 of 5 stars 4.15  ·  rating details  ·  218 ratings  ·  28 reviews
One of art's purest challenges is to translate a human being into words. The New Yorker has met this challenge more successfully and more originally than any other modern American journal. It has indelibly shaped the genre known as the Profile. Starting with light-fantastic evocations of glamorous and idiosyncratic figures of the twenties and thirties, such as Henry Luce a ...more
Paperback, 624 pages
Published May 15th 2001 by Modern Library (first published 2000)
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Kyle
So I haven't actually read this whole book, just several of the essays, but I have been spending a lot of my time lately with my nose in the New Yorker archives. My print subscription ran out a few months ago, but for some reason my digital subscription and archive access hasn't changed.

The biggest problem with the New Yorker archives is that unless you know what you're looking for, it's hard to run across anything interesting. What they need is a digital archivist, like Sports Illustrated has,
...more
Matthew
This was amazing -- the best collection of essays I've read since, well, the best American essays of the century collection. Coming from the New Yorker this collection has more of a formula (there is a certain style that runs throughout, despite the variation in subject) and I suppose a certain similarity of perspective -- that of an uptown Eastern elite looking with somewhat clinical interest down on the specimen... Nonetheless these are wonderfully entertaining and also terribly educational (f ...more
Jeremy
I did not read this whole book BUT: there are two profiles in it that are utterly brilliant and
unforgettable.
The most amazing one is on Ricky Jay, the magician, scholar, and unclassifiable entertainer.
I recall reading it in the New Yorker years ago and being blown away by it. Jay is probably
a true genius and might possibly be able to do real magic, if the stories told here about him
are true. You have to read it to believe it. Plus, the article serves as a sort of introduction into
the world
...more
Bronwyn
This is a big fat book of over 600 pages. But the quality of the writing and variety of the subject matter keeps it fresh. I especially loved checking out the different approaches the writers take to reveal their subjects -- some conventional and some much less so. Mr. Hunter's Grave (the first story) is the master of the form. It's so quiet and unassuming with such beautiful prose. The Education of a Prince wins for pure reading enjoyment. Dealing with Roseanne is funny and bold and is the best ...more
Tony
Remick, David (ed.) LIFE STORIES: PROFILES FROM “THE NEW Yorker.” (2000). ****. I usually read the profiles in “The New Yorker,” but since I’m no longer a subscriber I’m at the mercy of my local library when I can get there. Also, there were certainly a lot of issues before I became a subscriber that I missed. All that aside, this is a selection of some of the finest profiles that appeared over the years. “The New Yorker” profile is not a biography, but “a concise rendering of a life through ane ...more
Kate
Jan 29, 2008 Kate added it
These stories make the ordinary extraordinary, and although that may sound like a back cover review quote, it's true. I started reading this book to get a break from Guns, Germs, and Steel. I felt like every time I read about a new historical tribe or new society, it was a tease because the next chapter was about crops spread around the world before the year of Christ. I do enjoy the book and I understand the magnitude of its purpose. However, I miss hearing about people... Individuals like Mr. ...more
Diana Higgins
One of the best books I've ever read. Sometimes when I read New Yorker Profiles, I think they're a little too in-depth. I read the first third and think, ok, I'm good, but then it goes on and on beyond that point.

But right now this worked for me. Almost every profile opened up dozens of doors in my mind, led me down new paths of thinking. And almost every profile had at least one (some had a dozen) references which I didn't quite get; I thought more than once that going back and rereading, taki
...more
flannery
I was going to read the essays on Roseanne and Richard Pryor and call it quits but this whole book is really incredible. Especially and unexpectedly interesting: essays on the Chudnovsky Bros., Anatole Broyard, Ricky Jay, and Heloise. On Anatole Broyard:

"You know, he turned it into a joke. And when you change something basic about yourself into a joke, it spreads, it metastasizes, and so his whole presentation of self became completely ironic. Everything about him was ironic."

Also introduced m
...more
Jenna Fisher
Some amazing profiles in here. And some older, less interesting ones. Two that surprised me were "Dealing with Rosanne" by John Lahr - he painted such a full portrait of what she has overcome to be who she is. I was floored. And "Man Goes to See a Doctor (Max Grosskurth) by Adam Gopnik. That one brought tears to my eyes: a weird thing task when you're reading about someone's shrink.

Also enjoyed Malcolm Gladwell's "The Coolhunt" and Nancy Franklin's "Lady with a Pencil" about Katharine White and
...more
Ryan
among my all time favorites
Mary Whisner
A collection of profiles from the magazine that invented (or notably developed) the genre, the subjects range from Ernest Heningway to an unknown state wildlife employee. The charm of the anthology is not only in the pieces, which are individually interesting, nor in the authors, who are among the twentieth century's best, but in their arrangement. It adds something to read a profile of Mikhail Baryshnikov right after a profile of Isadora Duncan from several decades earlier.bb
Francisco Santos
Read profiles of a gentleman named Hemmingway and a doting New Yorker magazine woman editor Katherine White who was the consummate worrier over the magazine's writers. Included also are Al Gore and Adam Gopnik. In the latter, Mr. Gopnik writes about his experience with psychoanalysis and learns about some worthwhile things in Life.
Taruia
Jul 24, 2011 Taruia rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: I'm not sure
Shelves: general
I wasn't sure what to make of this book - the first story was outstanding but after a while it all seemed a bit same-y. I was told by the guy in the bookstore to go straight to the story about Madonna. Luck I didn't because I got through 2 pages about the Material Girl, closed the book, and haven't opened it since.
Wendy
I wanted this book to be perfect and it wasn't. It made me realize that too many New Yorker profiles are too long and too staidly written. That said, there are some fantastic examples of the form here. The contributions from Richard Preston, Lillian Ross, Henry Louis Gates, Jr, and janet Malcolm are stunning.
Ke Huang
In my opinion, some profiles were better than others (Ross' Hemingway rocked!). However, the collection contains such a big variety that I believe it will have a profile that will interest anyone.

8/22/12 - This book also gives the reader an idea what kind of nonfiction writers the reader enjoys.
Michael
I wish I could write half as well as these writers. Brilliant profiles, a huge inspiration to my own writing. Even if you're not a writer you should really enjoy the stories of some of these people. Some of my favourite profiles were of Marlon Brando, Steve Blass and Ricky Jay, among others.
Manny Napoli
some great stories in here and allot of people I've never heard of. Allot of stranger then fiction material, but I always enjoy reading about Hemingway, people impersonating Russian royalty, and light-skinned-black-literary-critics that spend their lives evading their race.
Susan
These are examples of an amazing genre. I love to read the New Yorker's profiles when I have time. Joseph Mitchell, the author of Mr. Hunter's Grave," has a collection out entitled Up in the Old Hotel, which I highly recommend.
Linda
Mar 25, 2010 Linda rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: audio
Essays of individuals, some famous, that have previously appeared in The New Yorker magazine written by Malcolm Gladwell, Calvin Trillin and other illustrious writers. Very enjoyable.
Barbara
Oh, this book is lovely to savor. I'm just strolling through the profiles, one at a time. I love that they are picked from early New Yorkers and current.
Ben
A good cross-section of the book, but the e-book version would be better if it had the original pictures in the articles.
Carrie
Jun 20, 2007 Carrie rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who like people.
These profiles are my reason for reading The New Yorker mostly, and here are a bunch of the good ones, all collected in a book!
Annie
I'm reading this for school, which is why it doesn't get five stars. Good stuff though.
Anna
These are amazing. I recommend that everyone keep this on your nighttable.
Anabelle DARIO
I'm in to this now. Currently reading on Ernest Hemmingway. Interesting.
Maggie Tiojakin
By far, the best compilation of profiles :)) LOVE IT!
Emilie Frechie
Read the one about Bush.
Julie
The Al Gore profile was worth the price of the entire book. Too bad the others that were chosen were not nearly as memorable or as good as in recent New Yorkers.
Liedie
Liedie marked it as to-read
Feb 20, 2015
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David Remnick (born October 29, 1958) is an American journalist, writer, and magazine editor. He won a Pulitzer Prize in 1994 for his book Lenin s Tomb The Last Days of the Soviet Empire. Remnick has been editor of The New Yorker magazine since 1998. He was named Editor of the Year by Advertising Age in 2000. Before joining The New Yorker, Remnick was a reporter and the Moscow correspondent for Th ...more
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