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Writings from The New Yorker 1927-1976

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  638 ratings  ·  44 reviews
Here are 161 wise, witty, and spirited short pieces and essays by the inimitable E. B. White. Written for the New Yorker over a span of forty-nine years, they show White’s changing concerns and development as a writer. In matchless style White writes about everything from cicadas to Khrushchev, from Thoreau to hyphens, from academic freedom to lipstick, from New York garba ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published December 12th 2006 by Harper Perennial Modern Classics (first published 1990)
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Dinah
Nov 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing
The cover of this book refers to E.B. White as "inimitable," which is a word just vague enough in meaning to the modern ear to suggest the author is venerable and quaint. I couldn't have chosen a better term. While a fair number of these short pieces are pointed and political, all have the tone of a high-brow dinner party among close friends -- strong convictions softened by a pleasant cadence and linguistic etiquette. It is hard to imagine a time when busy New Yorkers opened their magazines to ...more
Kathleen
Apr 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Years ago, during a particularly challenging time in my life, I received a slim volume of essays by E.B. White. I had loved his children's books, Stuart Little, Charlotte's Web, and The Trumpet of the Swan; soon, his wit and wisdom commenting on a variety of topics, reminded me of larger issues, making mine more manageable. Reading this collection was like visiting a beloved college professor again, listening to him comment about the world with humor and compassion and honesty. The years he wrot ...more
Harperac
Oct 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is a real mixed bag. Towards the bad end, White can be smarmy and unctuous, or he might start sermonizing about serious world events far beyond his grasp. The entire sections on Liberty, One World, Body and Mind, and Science, for example, were just annoying.

On the other hand, I kept finding enough gems to keep me going. It was good to start the book with Nature, because nature writing is something he excels at. The sections on Curiosities, New York, and the Christmas Spirit were all pr
...more
Quiver
Jul 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: a-english
A collection of White's writing's from the New Yorker, ordered according to topic, and within each topic ordered chronologically. Most are short, less than half a page, easy to digest, and not as dated as one might think, even when getting on to ninety years old in some cases.

The living language is a like a cowpath: it is the creation of the cows themselves, who, having created it, follow it or depart from it according to their whims or their needs.


So many years later, White's linguistic adro
...more
Melody Riggs
Jun 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read the classic EB White books as a kid, but never really thought to look into his other writing until he was mentioned on a podcast. His essays were just what I needed: semi-serious but also witty and at times just plain funny (like when he writes about his dachshund, Fred.
Dave
Aug 15, 2009 rated it really liked it
It's all good--too much all at once. The essays--essayettes, really--on nature, New York, and Maine tend to be the best. White on Thoreau is best of all:

"He got a reputation for being a naturalist, and he was not much of a naturalist. He got a reputation for being a hermit, and he was no hermit. He was a writer, is what he was."

"'Walden' is so indigestible that many hungry people abandon it because it makes them mildly sick, each sentence being an anchovy spread, and the whole thing too salty a
...more
Ryan
Jan 06, 2008 rated it liked it
I question I´ve had about writing many times is, "How long should a piece be?" There are the traditional forms, essays, short stories, and novels, etc., however, what if what you have to say is a simple comment or observation that requires less than 500 words to do justice to? Is it worth writing at all?

This collection of short writings by E.B. White goes a long ways towards answering that. The vast majority of the writings in this book were used as filler, a few hundred words to fill space in t
...more
Phoebe
Feb 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Kezia, Lisa, Louise, Bob, Vern
Pithy, brief essays on all manner of topics, from his beloved Maine, to Thoreau (very funny) to Science to The Academic Life, all originally published in the New Yorker. What is there to say except that White was quite a thinker, and this collection gives me renewed appreciation for his incredible versatility as a writer both for children and adults. A marvelous book, deliciously intelligent and intellectual, and meant to be savored and shared out loud.
Larraine
Jul 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
I read this over a period of a couple of months, a little at a time. Some of the essays are funny, some are charming, some are an interesting window at the times. E.B. White, probably known better to the general public as the author of Charlottes' Web, worked for the New Yorker from 1927-1976 and produced a number of essays long and short. It's an interesting collection. The essays are topical for the period and often are footnoted for the reader who may not understand the person or event that i ...more
Tamara Murphy
Jan 25, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018
E. B. White is one of my all-time favorites for both Charlotte’s Web and Trumpet of the Swan. I love his voice in his non-fiction as well. This collection of essays covers an unforgettable era in America’s history and while Mr. White often chooses a slight rose-colored hue in his perspective on the world, the overall affect of decades of his column is one of goodness and beauty. 
Wendy
Apr 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
White is simply brilliant, and his words have stood the test of time. I marveled at how appropriate his essays still are in today’s climate, and I appreciated the style and beauty of his writing. I pass along most books after I’ve read them, but this one I will keep to revisit again and again.
Rick Perry
Oct 17, 2018 rated it liked it
Some really nice pieces here, but some are older works that cover "current events" and are not very relevant.
Colby
Nov 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
What a treasure! Graceful. Grateful.
Abigail
Jul 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this. White is incredible at conveying what he wants to convey in very few words--these essays feel perfect. Some are laugh-out-loud funny, some are poignant or urgent, many are both.
David
Jan 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: essays, nonfiction
None of the pieces in this book are longer than a few pages. Most are only a page, or even only a paragraph. This is just the right size for a literary nightcap or an introspective moment. I've nursed this collection for nearly a year, and now I've turned the last page. What shall I do? I imagine a year or two from now I'll have forgotten so many details that I'll decide to read it afresh.

In the meanwhile, I have bookmarked one of the one-paragraph essays from 1936, because it comforts me to kno
...more
E Sweetman
Dec 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to E by: found the compilation finally!
Shelves: classics, influential
I can not get enough of E.B White lately. His writing is simple, clear and so funny. He is my flavor-of-the-month right now and he's moving on up as one of my all time favorites. Here's an example:

' PROHIBITED
1/25/36
The plant-patent business is taking right hold, apparently. We know a man who received a birthday present of a nice little azalea. Tied around the azalea's stem, like a chastity belt, was a metal tag from Bobbink & Atkins, reading, "Asexual reproduction of this plant is illegal unde
...more
Fenixbird SandS
Aug 23, 2010 marked it as to-read
Recommends it for: New Yorker's + their pals; historians
Recommended to Fenixbird by: Amazon
Quoting page 1: '"Thoroughly American and utterly beautiful," is how William Shawn, E. B. White's editor at the "New Yorker", described his prose. At the magazine White developed a pure, and plain-spoken literary style; his writing was characterized by wit, sophistication, optimism and moral steadfastness. For his contribution to American letters, Mr. White was awarded the National Medal for Literature, a Presidential Medal of Freedom, and membership in the American Academy of Arts and Letters. ...more
Rozalyn
May 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
This gem my grandmother actually recommended to me and I love it. It's White like you've never read him before, but it's definitely not at all surprising or shocking. I think it's basically what you would expect his opinions and thoughts to be on everything from the weather to politics-- quite charming, and funny in a dry humor sort of way. I LOVE how he refers to himself in the 3rd person and I can't wait for the day when I am old enough, intelligent enough, or have just had my literary license ...more
Tom
Jun 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A breezy tour through some of White's short (and often pithy) writings for The New Yorker. White would be delighted to know we think of his shorter work that way. One can only imagine how much he labored to perfect every sentence in these brief pieces and short essays, just to make them read as easy as a light breeze. We found, in this context, White's warm-hearted remembrance of his longtime colleague James Thurber to be especially touching -- even though we have read it in other places several ...more
Mike Violano
May 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I picked up this book 20 years ago but have never stopped reading or re-reading the articles. While some tell tales of times and places long ago many are as fresh and current as today. White is one of the truly great writers and his words (always well chosen) enchant and illuminate even when they are about the most ordinary things. If he were alive today, I suspect his blog would be the most widely read read and visited in the internet town.
Jennifer
Jan 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I loved this one ... as much as I love Charlotte's Web and Stuart Little, I think I like White's writing for adults even more. This book is intelligent, funny, touching and makes you feel smarter and better for reading it. Nice bite sized articles perfect for coffee break or before bed. Very highly recommended!
Laura-nassidesa Eschbaugh
Sep 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I discovered this writer by accident, a pleasant wonderful reading accident. A small snippet was quoted and it led to this book.
He writes about everyday things, New York, the world. His words are an echo of the past but still relevant today.

This book ends with an Obit on JFK - but it is only one gem - in a book of treasures


Laura
Apr 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read the book straight through and enjoyed every second of it. I recommend buying it, so you can savor every essay and re-read the best of them again and again. I so wish that Mr. White were still alive and writing. I would love to hear what he makes of today's world. All of the wisdom and joy in living evident in his children's books also appears in his writings for adults.
Christopher Sutch
May 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
These short pieces White did for the New Yorker are little capsules of his style, wit, humor and intelligence. My favorites were the piece in which he explains to an irate Sen. Joseph McCarthy why Thoreau was not un-American, and White's interview with a sparrow outside Central Park.
Josephine Ensign
Sep 11, 2015 rated it liked it
This was a good travel book for episodic, interrupted reading. I liked the 'Body and Mind' section the most. The New Yorker's policy that he write using the 'we' instead of 'I' makes for some insanely awkward passages.
David Rugge
Oct 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
There are many reasons I liked this book:
-It's a great time capsule of the 30's, 40's and 50's.
-The writing is consistently good
-Even if I'm not interested in the topic, the stories are short and easily skipped.
-The essay about Joseph McCarthy and Walden Pond is a classic.
Andrew
Aug 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
Good bedtime reading. I love E. B. White's perspective on humanity. It's nice to have essays as nice little bite-sized chunks so I can read until I am tired, put down the glasses, pick up the bookmark and snooze.
Jeff
Jan 19, 2017 rated it liked it
Anything written by EB White is worth your time. Many of these writings were written in White's early years at The New Yorker when he frequently wrote without a byline for the " Talk of the Town " section. This is a small collection, short works, quirky thoughts, always rewarding.
Sutter Lee
Jan 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I never tire of E.B. White. It's wonderful to explore the New York he so loved, "back in the day." through his eyes, sensibilities, intermingled with his thoughts and memories, the smallest of details, overlooked by others. It's like time traveling.
Louis
Great stuff. Funny. Quick. He helped define The New Yorker magazine's style.
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Elwyn Brooks White was a leading American essayist, author, humorist, poet and literary stylist and author of such beloved children's classics as Charlotte's Web, Stuart Little, and The Trumpet of the Swan. He graduated from Cornell University in 1921 and, five or six years later, joined the staff of The New Yorker magazine. He authored over seventeen books of prose and poetry and was elected to t ...more

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“A schoolchild should be taught grammar--for the same reason that a medical student should study anatomy. Having learned about the exciting mysteries of an English sentence, the child can then go forth and speak and write any damn way he pleases.” 20 likes
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