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Reporting at Wit's End

3.95  ·  Rating Details ·  123 Ratings  ·  32 Reviews
"Why does A. J. Liebling remain a vibrant role model for writers while the superb, prolific St. Clair McKelway has been sorely forgotten?" James Wolcott asked this question in a recent review of the Complete "New Yorker "on DVD. Anyone who has read a single paragraph of McKelway's work would struggle to provide an answer.

His articles for the "New Yorker "were defined by th
ebook, 320 pages
Published July 1st 2010 by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (first published 2010)
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Richard Derus
Oct 09, 2011 Richard Derus rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Once upon a time, and a very good time it was, there was a magazine called The New Yorker that published superb writing and made money doing it. That day, I fear, has passed; the magazine probably doesn't make money and I think its *superb* writing is thinner on the ground than once was the case. I am deeply grateful that it still exists and does all the very, very good publishing that it does.

But oh me, oh my, for the times when A.J. Liebling, Joseph Mitchell, and St. Clair McKelway were simply
Mar 01, 2010 Jesse rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some great pieces in here, particularly "Mr. 880," (his FBI file number) the one about a counterfeiter who eludes the FBI through...I don't know what, exactly, for nearly a decade. He's not that wily (unlike the wily Wilby, an expert accounting fraudster), and his money says "Wahsington" on it, which you'd think would be kind of a giveaway. Maybe it's that he made only dollar bills and not that many of them. In any case, I am not going to put this up there with my Liebling books for memorability ...more
Jun 04, 2010 Anders rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I definitely shouldn't have checked this out of the library my first week of grad school... I kept telling myself I would JUST read the "classic" stories, the ones that were TOTALLY essential to understanding the role of this writer in the history of the New Yorker from the 30's to the 60's. 600 pages later... I read this book cover to cover despite my best intentions. this is story-telling of the first order. what I especially love about McKelway is how he treads the fine line between reliabili ...more
Feb 22, 2012 Allan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book, early, reviewer, in, 2010
I’ve had a continuous New Yorker subscription since the early 80’s and one of my greatest regrets is that I could never look forward to picking up the magazine that arrived at my door every week and open it to a story by Joseph Mitchell, A.J.Leibling or St. Clair McKelway (not to mention E. B.White, James Thurber and many others).[return]Mitchell and Liebling have recently been published in new editions but as far as I know McKelway has been out of print for decades. Until now.[return][return]Bl ...more
Mar 16, 2010 Frank rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am very happy to own this book. Pick this one up if you’ve already digested the collected work of Joseph Mitchell (Up in the Old Hotel and My Ears Are Bent). I've read and re-read those collections. I know that I will have a similar experience with St. Clair McKelway. He’s brilliant. If you’re looking for a writer who can convey a massive amount of information in one paragraph without sacrificing narrative — start here. Don’t bullshit yourself.
Steve Cox
Apr 27, 2010 Steve Cox rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very good collection of New Yorker pieces from the 30s-60s. McKelway was an alcoholic and borderline insane sometimes, which shows up most clearly in The Edinburgh Caper.

The portraits of a bushleague counterfeiter, a serial embezzler, and an arson detective are the standouts here. Also of interest is a firsthand account of McKelway's time doing public relations in the US Army Air Force with Curtis LeMay during the latter days of the bombing campaign on Japan.

Feb 11, 2011 W H rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a delightful book. A collection of Mr McKelway's writings from the New Yorker. A fact laden but writerly story awaits you as you delve into the world of petty safe crackers, gossip columnists and B-29 Bomber Commands. I found my self enthralled enough to look for more of his writings on ABE Books and searching the New Yorker Archive, just plain fun!
Feb 11, 2010 Becky rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For The New Yorker fans, this is a must-read. All the stories in the book originally appeared in the magazine sometime from 1930s-1960s. My favorites are the crime pieces- McKelway has a gift for writing about quirky characters like process servers and embezzlers.
Sep 12, 2014 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful collection of New Yorker pieces from neglected writer St. Clair McKelway.

Typically worthless introduction by current New Yorker writer Adam Gopnik.
Feb 12, 2010 Amy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Everyone that knows me knows I adore the New Yorker...some of it is a bit silly but I really love it when a reporter is able to do an in-depth article that includes volumes of research and subtle details that make you really know the subject. For example, last month they had a very detailed and fascinating article about some Serbian diamond thiefs, the "Pink Panthers". It didn't just cover their crimes, but went on to their upbringing, their techniques, the methods of searching for them, and on
James Foley
Jul 04, 2013 James Foley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
I greatly admired the reporting in the book (about half the book). We meet Curtis Lemay, the first NYC fire marshall, an unusually cheerful embezzler, a very responsible counterfeiter and a several doomed souls. That's why I gave this four stars. If I could have I'd have given three and a half. As much as I liked the reporting in the book, I found the memoirs to be shaggy and meandering, but not meandering in an interesting Huck Finn way. I do recommend the book absolutely. It's a collection. A ...more
Feb 02, 2010 Melyssa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people interested in journalism or New York stories
I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway, and I'm so glad I did. I might not have heard of the book otherwise.

The title of the book made me curious, but I wasn't familiar with St. Clair McKelway until this collection of his work from The New Yorker. Even though the articles are several decades old, they really prove that good writing makes a story timeless.

My favorite stories were the ones about an elderly counterfitter, a process server, and the fire marshal of Brooklyn. The characters really ca
Jan 01, 2017 Frank rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What people say they get out of Joseph Mitchell is what I got out of this (though focused on less exotic, more relatable urban characters). Funny, evocative, and with some extremely charming portraits of distinctive individuals (fire inspector, process server) plus some truly galling stories (in particular a mistaken conviction that could've been an NYT article this year). The long, largely fake stories are probably worth a pass, but doesn't take away from an excellent collection.
Daniel Silveyra
I picked up the book on the strength of a review in The Economist.

McKelway hails from the golden era of the New Yorker, or one of many, depending on whom you ask.

Most of the pieces are New York stories regarding crime or something that should be so labelled. All of them have that 50s reporter feel to them - terse, clear, sentences. All of it tinged with that "subtle" New Yorker irony.

Most of the stories are amusing - enough to finish the book. A couple are amazing.
May 31, 2010 Amelia marked it as started-then-lost-or-abandoned  ·  review of another edition
A gorgeous, beautiful beast of a collection that I really ought to buy and savor instead of try to plow through during fleeting library renewals. McKelway's writing is so damned exquisite that everything that's followed him is a disgrace. I should burn my creative writing degree. I will be back to do you justice, sir, just not this summer.
Alethea Bothwell
The writing is pretty much text-book New Yorker, so it's good - except. Except the more recent the pieces are, the longer they become until they are just too much. And the ones about his own experiences (in the war, in the Edinburgh caper) are, besides being waaaaay too long, self-indulgent and tedious in the extreme.
Sandy Barnes
I read most of this book thought finally gave up on it. Just a bit too retro. Author is excellent writer and his unusual past was profiled in a recent New Yorker.

But it all seemed so far long ago and far away. About some rather lovable petty white criminals.
Mar 22, 2010 Janice rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an excellent book, I enjoyed the different era's of writing and how the writing has changed. Most all of the stories were very interesting, I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading.
Dec 16, 2011 Robin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some stories are just timeless, as the ones included in this compilation of articles/stories by Mr. McKelway. Even though the characters and their stories are from decades ago, the themes still resonate with today's society. It's a thick read but worth the effort.
Tim Hainley
Dec 14, 2010 Tim Hainley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
His true crime stories and reporting on real life weirdos were magnificent. Somehow though, despite the fact that he was also a real life weirdo and minor criminal, for my taste he was his own least interesting subject.
Jun 17, 2016 Gail rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
St. Clair McKelway wrote for The New Yorker for 30 years. This collection pulls together some of his essays from each decade. He is thoughtful and humorous; the essays feature the common-man type of New Yorker rather than the newsmakers of the era.
Bill Bangham
Jun 06, 2013 Bill Bangham rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
McKelway's ability to take the mundane and make it timeless is a gift. For those not familiar with the classic, elegant writing of the New Yorker, this is a good book to dip into it.
Feb 19, 2010 Grace rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
amazing in little bits. all at once gets a little tiresome.
Michael Lisk
Jul 25, 2011 Michael Lisk rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you're a fan of Joseph MItchell's Up in the Old Hotel, you'll love this. Stories from The New Yorker from the 30s through the 60s.
Feb 10, 2010 Grant rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
McKelway's detailed writing almost rises to the level of a how-to-manual for various occupations.

A very entertaining jaunt through yesteryear.
Darryl Cole
Feb 01, 2010 Darryl Cole rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
Great collection of stories.
Mar 07, 2010 Cowcatt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting historical book. I especially enjoyed the l930's news stories! Well worth the time it takes to read same.
Michael Webb
A few clunkers, but well worth reading.
Feb 25, 2010 Mindy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I just received this in the mail today. Another of Goodreads Giveaways.
Jan 28, 2016 Judy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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