One of the great American humorists of this century, James Thurber is still read and cherished by many readers more than thirty years after his death. He is most famous for the hilarious, often bittersweet stories that he published in the 1930s and 1940s in the New Yorker. Among his best-known books are My Life and Hard Times, Is Sex Necessary? co-authored with E. B. White, My World - and Welcome to It, and The Thurber Carnival. He was also a brilliant cartoonist. His unique drawings were an eagerly awaited ...
One of the great American humorists of this century, James Thurber is still read and cherished by many readers more than thirty years after his death. He is most famous for the hilarious, often bittersweet stories that he published in the 1930s and 1940s in the New Yorker. Among his best-known books are My Life and Hard Times, Is Sex Necessary? co-authored with E. B. White, My World - and Welcome to It, and The Thurber Carnival. He was also a brilliant cartoonist. His unique drawings were an eagerly awaited feature in Harold Ross's New Yorker and in Thurber's books. Grauer by no means sentimentalizes Thurber. He addresses serious, and often disturbing, features of Thurber's life his failed first marriage, alcohol abuse, misogyny, and agonies over going blind when he was at the height of his success. At the same time, Grauer highlights Thurber's courage, inexhaustible humor, and unique literary and artistic talents. The result is a biography that both celebrates Thurber's genius and shrewdly appraises his qualities as a man.
The great humorist admired-as he exemplified in his work-brevity and concision. So he would certainly have approved of the modest dimensions of this study of himself. In an age of overdetailed biographies, this book says just what needs to be said, then stops. Grauer, a former newspaper cartoonist and reporter, writes smoothly and entertainingly, and with a keen sense of what makes Thurber (1894-1961) so endearingly funny. His quotes are apt, his anecdotes neatly told, and he even gives us a handful of the classic cartoons. Grauer is also fair, presenting an unvarnished picture of Thurber's bitter last years when, perhaps aware that his gifts were waning, the blind writer boasted vainly of his former triumphs, antagonized such old friends as E.B. White and Roger Angell and threw his eyeglasses at the wall. These days it is easy to be overcritical of Thurber's misogyny and occasional resort to racial humor; still, as Grauer notes, his increasing misanthropy was often prescient, and he remained, in all his inconsistencies, steadfast in two beliefs: in the superiority of animals to humankind, and his dread of technology. Photos not seen by PW. (Nov.)
There are certain literary men and women of whom even the slenderest recollection of anecdote fascinates; the famed humorist of The New Yorker was one. Freelance journalist Grauer tells Thurber's story lucidly and sympathetically, without trying to conceal the awkward places in his character-his battle with the bottle, fits of depression, and problems with women. Recognizing how deeply Thurber's life work was molded by his personal experience, Grauer supplies an extended and valuable study of his early environment and the major developments in his maturity that affected his writings, including the devastating effect blindness had on him. Twelve of Thurber's most famous cartoons are included. This is excellent and lively reading, augmenting well Thurber collections. [The 100th anniversary of Thurber's birth is December 8.-Ed.]-A.J. Anderson, GSLIS, Simmons Coll., Boston
“A uniquely sparkling book.”—Hugh Kenner
James J. Kilpatrick
“Biography at its best. Neil Grauer paints Thurber as Lely painted Cromwell, pimples, warts, and all, and gives us a portrait to remember.”—James J. Kilpatrick
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This anecdotal biography of the great American humorist who authored hilarious, often bittersweet stories and cartoons examines Thurber's genius as well as such disturbing features of his life as his failed marriage, alcohol abuse, and going blind at the height of his success. A readable, anecdotal, and often delightfully funny account. B&W photos & illustrations.
Neil A. Grauer is a freelance journalist and a former reporter and cartoonist for the Baltimore News-American. He has published four books, including Wits and Sages, a collection of profiles and caricatures of various syndicated columnists. Grauer is also a writer for Vanguard Communications in Washington, D.C.