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The Long-Winded Lady: Notes from The New Yorker

4.22 of 5 stars 4.22  ·  rating details  ·  112 ratings  ·  15 reviews
From 1954 to 1981, Maeve Brennan contributed to "The New Yorker's" "Talk of the Town" department under the pen name "the long-winded lady." Her unforgettable sketches--prose snapshots of life in the streets, diners, and cheap hotels just off Times Square--are a timeless, bittersweet tribute to what she calls the "most ambitious, most comical...saddest and coldest and most ...more
Paperback, 268 pages
Published December 31st 1998 by Mariner Books (first published 1998)
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Apr 20, 2007 Emily rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who loves the city
maeve brennan was a lesser known writer for the New Yorker, who eventually cracked up and began living in her old office, even though she was no longer writing for the magazine. becuase the editors were such nice people, they let her live there, even take "baths" in the restroom sinks. (ah, the good old days when job security meant something.) before this sad turn, she wrote some of the loveliest observations of other people i have ever read. read this book during your commute, and you will find ...more
In my more reflective moments, living in New York City feels like my own version of Maeve Brennan's life. 'Observant' doesn't even cover it: Maeve looks at the world with unending nuance, humor, and love. This will be a text I return to throughout my life.
Off The Shelf
Allison Tyler reviewed The Long-Winded Lady on

A Book to Read Slowly, in Small Bites, and Savor by Allison Tyler

I tend to observe more than interact, a trait that makes me an avid people-watcher and people-listener, also known as an eavesdropper. My brain fills in the gaps of missing information, those things we usually can’t know about strangers—their thoughts, their motives, their pain, what they ate for breakfast, whether they’re cheating on their spouse, if their mother forg
Justin Howe
Perceptive, sad, insightful, bitter, and comic - all these words describe Maeve Brennan's "prose snapshots" of New York City written between 1954 and 1981 and published in The New Yorker.

An extremely enjoyable book. Definitely worth tracking down.
The Long-Winded Lady was the pen name, ironic in the old New Yorker style, of Maeve Brennan, who wrote these pieces for The Talk of the Town when the pieces there were unsigned. She lived in hotels, mostly around Times Square and the Village, from the 1950s to the 1980s, and her sketches were observations of people and incidents around Manhattan in the days when JFK Airport was Idlewild, Fifth Avenue had recently gone one-way, and shops and restaurants around Sixth Avenue in midtown were being d ...more
A lovely collection of vignettes from The New Yorker magazine. Maeve Brennan wrote for The New Yorker from 1954-1981 but her short, witty pieces for The Talk of the Town column were mostly unsigned and simply noted as being from "The Long-Winded Lady." Brennan was not long-winded. She was a master at the brief, witty, sometimes acerbic snapshots of life in her Times Square/Village neighborhoods. ( This was the seedy era of Times Square before it became "Disney-fied" and like a shopping mall.) He ...more
Roxy Rowe
I loved, loved these essays. I bought this because I had read Angela Bourke's bio of Brennan, "Homesick at The New Yorker" and enjoyed it. Brennan's snippets about the streets of New York City are entrancing. She puts the reader right there with her, eavesdropping upon neighbors and nearby diners in small restaurants, walking down the dirty streets, watching graceful old buildings being torn down and replaced with ugly new ones, drinking martinis with her as she reads the papers. It made me want ...more
Donna Kusuda
Maeve is an interesting author journalist with a colorful life that included alcoholism. Came to the US as a teenager from Ireland and became a writer for the New Yorker magazine. She wrote the Talk of the Town column for many years. Her stories/essays in this book are scenes from NYC life in the 50 and 60s for the most part. Very enjoyable especially if you have spent a fair amount of time in Manhattan. I could actually picture some of the street corners and sites she describes as well as the t ...more
Completely delicious and delightful collection of columns that capture New York moments. I loved that they had all the sense of place and culture of their time (1960s), yet most were the oddities and bits of magic of the city today.
Lynn Kearney
I liked this a lot, though I read it too quickly. It should be savoured over a few weeks or even months. It consists of New Yorker Talk-of-the-Town pieces, written mostly in the fifties and early sixties,a period I remember well in NY.
Many of these pieces read like prose versions of Edward Hopper's metropolitan paintings, with a similar feeling of crystalline unspoken loneliness. Essential reading for any solitary urban-dweller.
Maybe this book is better enjoyed if you’re a New Yorker. The stories are everyman/woman in everyday life. I tried, but I just couldn’t get through it. Enough said.
As you'll notice, I adore Maeve Brennan's writing. These essays are funny and poignant, and make me wish I'd seen NYC in the '50s and '60s.
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Maeve Brennan (January 6, 1917–1993) was an Irish short story writer and journalist. She moved to the United States in 1934 when her father was appointed to the Irish Legation in Washington. She was an important figure in both Irish diaspora writing and in Irish writing itself. Collections of her articles, short stories, and a novella have been published.

(from Wikipedia)
More about Maeve Brennan...
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