I liked some of these, especially "Chekhov for children," which was my favorite, and "Suicide of a teacher," which was very powerful. Others I liked wI liked some of these, especially "Chekhov for children," which was my favorite, and "Suicide of a teacher," which was very powerful. Others I liked were "Never live above your landlord," "Modern friendships," "Upstairs neighbors," and "Reflections on subletting." I didn't find any of the others all that interesting, at least not that I recall now looking back over the table of contents at their titles. (There are 19 essays in here.)
One thing that kept striking me as strange while I was reading these was that two out of the five back-cover blurb suppliers chose the same phrase to praise the book, namely "a joy to read." That struck me as kind of an odd way to describe the experience of reading these essays. The very best ones, I thought, were at least a little bit depressing to read, if not downright disturbing or even painful sometimes. There's nothing wrong with that in my book (which is why those are probably my favorite essays in here), but these essays were almost never exactly a "joy" to read, at least for me, and describing them that way seemed to me like a strange reaction to them. The good ones were good because they were insightful and well written and often moving....more
It was a funny thing with this book. I read the first 100 pages or so and enjoyed most of it quite a bit, but then I suddenly started getting tired ofIt was a funny thing with this book. I read the first 100 pages or so and enjoyed most of it quite a bit, but then I suddenly started getting tired of some of the minutia about the intra-editor correspondence and then I even started getting tired of the correspondence between the editors and the authors. And it was getting kind of repetitive. So I abandoned it kind of abruptly. But before I could complete abandon it, I had to go through the very copious and detailed index, and by the time I was out of the C's (cf. e.g. this *very* small sampling just from the A's and B's:
A&P (Updike) Absalom, Absalom (Faulkner) Agnew, Spiro T. Albee, Edward Allen, Woody Anderson, Sherwood Angell, Roger Arendt, Hannah Armies of the night, The (Mailer) Arno, Peter Ashe, Arthur Baker, Nicholson Barth, John Barthelme, Donald Beattie, Anne Beatty, Warren Beckett, Samuel Bell for Adano, A (Hersey) Bellow, Saul Benchley, Robert Berlin, Irving Bogart, Humphrey Borges, Jorge Luis Bradley, Bill Brando, Marlon Bright lights, big city (McInerney) Buckley, William F. Buffett, Warren Butler, Nicholas Murray
I realized that by the time I finished that exercise, I would probably have read every page of the book 5 times. So I went back to a more linear reading from where I had left off when I abandoned it, and I ended up mostly enjoying the book, though I was still quite bored by all the editorial stuff, and I'm sure a more serious New Yorker aficionado would appreciate that stuff more than I did.
The best parts for me were about the authors (especially Cheever, Salinger, and Updike in my case) and the least interesting parts were about the editors and thye business end of the magazine.
I have to give it t least 3 stars for effort, and the author certainly expended plenty of that--he went through 3,000 boxes of correspondence and inter-office memoranda and interviewed 50 people....more
I read this some time during my Hemingway period, when I was 18, 19, 20, and 21. I thought I wouldn't remember much of it, but in fact it's all very fI read this some time during my Hemingway period, when I was 18, 19, 20, and 21. I thought I wouldn't remember much of it, but in fact it's all very familiar still after all these years. Also, I'm enjoying it....more