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Letters From the Editor: The New Yorker's Harold Ross epub ebook

by Harold Ross,Thomas Kunkel

Letters From the Editor: The New Yorker's Harold Ross epub ebook

Author: Harold Ross,Thomas Kunkel
Category: Arts & Literature
Language: English
Publisher: Modern Library; First edition (January 4, 2000)
Pages: 448 pages
ISBN: 0375503978
ISBN13: 978-0375503979
Rating: 4.5
Votes: 973
Other formats: lit docx lrf txt

Born in Colorado, Ross (1892-1951) became a reporter at 16, a contributor to The.

Born in Colorado, Ross (1892-1951) became a reporter at 16, a contributor to The. Thomas Kunkel is the author of a biography of Ross, Genius in Disguise, and Enormous Prayers. He works at the University of Maryland College of Journalism and lives in Burtonsville, Maryland.

Ross worries about everything from keeping track of office typewriters to the magazine's role in wartime to the exact questions to be asked for a "Talk of the Town" piece on the song "Happy Birthday.

The collection comes from Thomas Kunkel, a grateful biographer, who notes in his introduction that Ross, who never wrote a word for the magazine, was, with the possible exception of the protean Edmund Wilson, the most prolific writer in its history, if one counts the letters.

New Yorker" devotees need not read beyond this sentence; the book's historical interest speaks for itself. The rest of you may be enticed by the implicit voyeurism of reading someone else's mail, a pleasure enhanced when the correspondents are powerful, famous, or notorious. Ross teases J. Edgar Hoover, refusing to divulge a source.

You don't get paid for them.

book by Thomas Kunkel. Don't waste your time and words on letters, Harold Ross cautioned more than one writer. You don't get paid for them.

Ships from and sold by Lindon8980. Kunkel illuminates Ross's three failed marriages, his clashes with his protege and successor William Shawn, and his bitter feud with his partner, yeast magnate Raoul Fleischmann.

These exhilarating letters--selected and introduced by Thomas Kunkel, who wrote Genius in Disguise, the distinguished Ross biography--tell the dramatic story of the birth of The New Yorker and its precarious early days and years. Ross worries about everything from keeping track of office typewriters to the magazine's role in wartime to the exact questions to be asked for a "Talk of the Town" piece on the song "Happy Birthday." We find Ross, in Kunkel's words, "scolding Henry Luce, lecturing Orson Welles, baiting J. Edgar Hoover, inviting Noel Coward and Ginger Rogers to the circus, wheedling Ernest Hemingway-- offering to sell Harpo Marx a used car and James Cagney a used tractor, and explaining to restaurateur-to-the-stars Dave Chasen, step by step, how to smoke a turkey." These letters from a supreme editor tell in his own words the story of the fierce, lively man who launched the world's most prestigious magazine.
Reviews (7)
I LOVE Harold Ross. I LOVE Thomas Kunkel! I thought "Genius in Disguise" was a masterpiece, and couldn't wait to get ahold if "Letters from the Editor". I am ashamed to admit I am disappointed, and it's completely my fault...Ross is terrific, Kunkel's editing is brilliant, I knew it would be just notes, letters, responses, etc. from/by Ross....but when I began to read them I realized it wasn't working for me...I needed the other side of the correspondence..or at least a little more 'context' by Mr. Kunkel. It just felt incomplete and frustrating. The only reason I'm revealing my shame this way, is in case there is someone else out there like me who doesn't realize this format would, well, actually make them crazy! I wish I could have borrowed it from the library, but I live in a place, believe it or not, where the libraries DO NOT HAVE Thomas Kunkel's books! (No wonder I'm crazy) Anyway. There it is. My confession.

These letters were my companion as I read "Genius in Disguise", Kunkel's wonderful biography of Harold Ross. The biography tells the story of Ross and his founding and development of The New Yorker. These letters bring Ross to life and convey the personality that spotted and nurtured the talent that made the magazine great. Here's a quick letter to John Cheever in 1947, which gives a little flavor of the man:
"Dear Cheever:
I've just read "The Enormous Radio," having gone away for a spell and got behind, and I send my respects and admiration. The piece is worth coming back to work for. It will turn out to be a memorable one, or I am a fish. Very wonderful, indeed."
As ever,

I found these very personal and interesting letters to be a very revealing mirror of the times, the mores, the ways of speaking and behaving that were quite touching. A disappearing time... amusing and sad and funny, all at once!


Even more than Kunkel's brilliant biography "Genius in Disguise," this book offers special insights into "New Yorker" founder and editor Harold Ross, not only a seminal figure in American letters but a sardonic wit reminiscent of H.L. Mencken, one of the people with whom he frequently exchanged letters. (Indeed, the sweep of his correspondence, from "New Yorker" stalwarts like E.B. White and his wife Katherine to Dorothy Parker and James Thurber all the way to John O'Hara, Harpo Marx, various state governors and other polticos, President Truman, and Premier Nehru, is impressive in itself.) While in many of these letters, Ross comes across as that curmudgeon one might expect, there is a touch of tender concern in others that shows you that some of the gruffness was merely a pose--as is his stance as the long-suffering, embattled editor who says he would rather be doing anything else, but who clearly shows he is having the time of his life.
The book may be a bit abstruse in places for those who do not know the history of the "New Yorker" during the Ross editorship, but there seems to be enough comedy throughout to maintain even a casual reader's interest. Anyone who has enjoyed "Genius in Disguise" will surely love this book. I guess the greatest complement I can offer is now that I've read Kunkel's two Ross portrayals, I can't wait for his next book.

This book should be read slowly, to get the flavor of the man, and there's a mouthful, as you'd expect. Several chews bit me. Ross writes like his writers, so much so that he could have written in any department of his magazine. He accepts people on their own terms and relates to them as they wish to be, a good approach for anyone, but salutary for someone in charge. His troubles are legion, and friends meant everything to him. And there's an aftertaste from Ross's reactions to articles that one has read--his note to Leibling on the essay about crossing the Atlantic in an oil tanker during WWII, and some bitter flavors, too--his attitudes toward women, blacks, and his publisher. All this is a taste treat for any who wants to savor American prose at its freshest, in company with those who prepared it. And it will leave you hungry for more.

Most of the text is Ross's; this is what makes the book worth 4 stars.
Some of the explanatory comments are pretty clumsy:
"Married to Fleischmann's ex-wife, Ruth, a major New Yorker stockholder, Vischer played a strong behind-the-scenes role at the magazine and was trying to keep Ross from quitting." (p. 271)
Would a sentence like that have ever made the pages of the New Yorker?
I can't comment on the selection of letters with any authority, but it's at least adequate: Truman Capote progresses from someone who, in September 1944, "wouldn't have been employed here [even] as [an office boy] probably, if it hadn't been for the man- and boy-power shortage" (Capote had insulted Robert Frost by walking out on poetry reading) to somone whose stories Ross would like to see more of, if they "aren't too psychopathic" in July 1949.

An engaging look at the history of the New Yorker through the founder's own words. A peek into the process of publication of some of the most well-known writers. Famous writers' correspondance with a brutally honest Harold Ross. EXCELLENT!

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