Devil Problem & Other True Stories: And Other True Stories

Overview

Readers know from his now classic Lenin's Tomb that Remnick is a superb portraitist who can bring his subjects to life and reveal them in such surprising ways as to justify comparison to Dickens, Balzac, or Proust. In this collection, Remnick's gift for character is sharper than ever, whether he writes about Gary Hart stumbling through life after Donna Rice or Mario Cuomo, who now presides over a Saturday morning radio talk show, fielding questions from crackpots, or about Michael Jordan's awesome return to the ...

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New York 1996 Hardcover First American Edition New 0679452559. First printing. Clean and new, unread and unmarked. Not price clipped.; 8vo 8"; z.

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Overview

Readers know from his now classic Lenin's Tomb that Remnick is a superb portraitist who can bring his subjects to life and reveal them in such surprising ways as to justify comparison to Dickens, Balzac, or Proust. In this collection, Remnick's gift for character is sharper than ever, whether he writes about Gary Hart stumbling through life after Donna Rice or Mario Cuomo, who now presides over a Saturday morning radio talk show, fielding questions from crackpots, or about Michael Jordan's awesome return to the Chicago Bulls — or Reggie Jackson's last times at bat.

Remnick's portraits of such disparate characters as Alger Hiss and Ralph Ellison, Richard Nixon and Elaine Pagels, Gerry Adams and Marion Barry are unified by this extraordinary ability to create a living character, so that the pieces in this book, taken together, constitute a splendid pageant of the representative characters of our time.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Marion Barry, Gerry Adams, and others are profiled by the frequent New Yorker contributor.
Library Journal
Remnick, who won a Pulitzer Prize for Lenin's Tomb (LJ 6/15/93), wrote these "stories" about politicians, athletes, writers, and the news business for the New Yorker. The pieces are factual, but many of them also read much like a good short tale. The title piece, for example, about professor of religion Elaine Heisey Pagels of Princeton, tells of the tragedies of her life and some of the circumstances that surrounded her writing The Origin of Satan (LJ 6/1/95). Remnick's smooth, readable style and clear insight make for interesting reading. Recommended for popular journalism and current events collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 4/15/96.]Rebecca Wondriska, Trinity Coll. Lib., Hartford, Ct.
Thomas Gaughan
Remnick, a "New Yorker" staff writer and winner of the 1994 Pulitzer Prize for Lenin's Tomb, is properly respectful of the idea of stories. "Stories," he states, "the telling and the listening, are much of what we are." Remnick's stories begin with people, a disparate group that includes Gary Hart, Michael Jordan, Joseph Brodsky, Ralph Ellison, Mario Cuomo, and Alger Hiss, and they examine what he describes as the gap between "private life and public ambition." His stories and people span literature, scholarship, politics, and sports, and Remnick is as fluent in his commentary on Brodsky's poetry as on Jordan's post-up move. There are stories within stories, as well, as when Gary Hart describes a weird conversation with Richard Nixon during the funeral of Senator Jacob Javits. Nixon told him that Bach was better than Brahms, because Bach is "tougher" than Brahms. Remnick is a gifted observer, a graceful and evocative writer, and a storyteller who illuminates his subjects and edifies his audience.
Kirkus Reviews
Pulitzer Prize winner Remnick (Lenin's Tomb, 1993) turns his attention to . . . Reggie Jackson? This collection of Remnick's New Yorker pieces runs the gamut from Reggie to Alger Hiss, from Michael Jordan to theYiddish daily, the Forward. Stories, Remnick asserts in his preface, are the heart of journalism, and as readers of his prize-winning book on Russia know, he is a very capable storyteller. With the exception of the essays on Alger Hiss and USA Today's Al Neuharth, the pieces in this collection are recent, having been published between 1993 and February 1996. The topics are varied, but two elements do unify them. The first is Remnick's penchant for telling detail and for the slightly offbeat variation on an ordinary interviewer's question. The second is the way he balances his passionate commitment to a vision of morality with the necessities of objective journalism. At its best, these two constants can produce a masterpiece, as in his lengthy examination of the forces that drove Marion Barry's campaign to return to the mayoralty of Washington, D.C.; one watches, fascinated, as Remnick comes to understand and even (a little grudgingly, as you might expect) to like the ex-con ex-mayor. At its worst, the result is the book's opening piece, a portrait of Gary Hart in 1993 that, because its central figure is unforthcoming about the most obvious topic of interest, feels hollow at the center. Happily, the book has many more examples of the former than of the latter. Remnick is particularly good on his enthusiasms: a warm tribute to the late Joseph Brodsky, and affectionate portraits of Ralph Ellison and Murray Kempton. He is less effective when venting his spleen, as in hisslightly shrill attack on the cold new sports arenas that opens his profile of Jordan. On the whole, though, this is a superbly entertaining collection.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679452553
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 8/13/1996
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 5.91 (w) x 8.65 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

David Remnick

David Remnick is a staff writer for The New Yorker and a frequent contributor to The New York Review of Books and other publications. Mr. Remnick received a Pulitzer Prize in 1994 for his first book Lenin's Tomb: The Last Days of the Soviet Empire. He was a reporter for The Washington Post for ten years, including four years as Moscow correspondent. A graduate of Princeton University, and former visiting fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations, Mr. Remnick lives in New York with his wife and two sons.

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Table of Contents

Preface
1 Winter on the Mountain (Gary Hart) 3
2 The Situationist (Marion Barry) 26
3 Negative Capability (Mario Cuomo) 63
4 Belfast Confetti (Gerry Adams) 72
5 Unforgiven (Alger Hiss) 113
6 The September Song of Mr. October (Reggie Jackson) 133
7 Hamlet in Hollywood 157
8 The Devil Problem (Elaine Pagels) 198
9 Perfect Pitch (Joseph Brodsky) 225
10 Visible Man (Ralph Ellison) 238
11 Dr. Wilson's Neighborhood (William Julius Wilson) 250
12 A Father and His Son (Kenzaburo Oe and Hikari Oe) 275
13 "I'm Back" (Michael Jordan) 289
14 Raging Bull (Dennis Rodman) 306
15 Last of the Red Hots (Ben Bradlee) 319
16 Good News Is No News (USA Today) 338
17 News in a Dying Language (the Forward) 356
18 The Last Gentleman (Murray Kempton) 376
Acknowledgments 405
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