Reporting at Wit's End: Tales from The New Yorker [NOOK Book]

Overview

"Why does A. J. Liebling remain a vibrant role model for writers while the superb, prolific St. Clair McKelway has been sorely forgotten?" James Wolcott asked this question in a recent review of the Complete New Yorker on DVD. Anyone who has read a single paragraph of McKelway's work would struggle to provide an answer.


His articles for the New Yorker were defined by their clean language and incomporable wit, by his love of New York's rough edges and his affection for the ...

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Reporting at Wit's End: Tales from The New Yorker

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Overview

"Why does A. J. Liebling remain a vibrant role model for writers while the superb, prolific St. Clair McKelway has been sorely forgotten?" James Wolcott asked this question in a recent review of the Complete New Yorker on DVD. Anyone who has read a single paragraph of McKelway's work would struggle to provide an answer.


His articles for the New Yorker were defined by their clean language and incomporable wit, by his love of New York's rough edges and his affection for the working man (whether that work was come by honestly or not). Like Joseph Mitchell and A. J. Liebling, McKelway combined the unflagging curiosity of a great reporter with the narrative flair of a master storyteller. William Shawn, the magazine's long-time editor, described him as a writer with the "lightest of light touches." His style is so striking, Shawn went on to say, that "it was too odd to be imitated."


The pieces collected here are drawn from two of McKelway's books--True Tales from the Annals of Crime and Rascality (1951) and The Big Little Man from Brooklyn (1969). His subjects are the small players who in their particulars defined life in New York during the 36 years McKelway wrote: the junkmen, boxing cornermen, counterfeiters, con artists, fire marshals, priests, and beat cops and detectives. The "rascals."


An amazing portrait of a long forgotten New York by the reporter who helped establish and utterly defined New Yorker "fact writing," Untitled Collection is long overdue celebration of a truly gifted writer.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781608191239
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
  • Publication date: 7/22/2010
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 640
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

St. Clair McKelway came from a family of newspaper journalists and ministers. Born in 1905, in Charlotte, NC, he grew up in Washington, DC, and worked his first job as an office boy at the old Washington Times-Herald. He went on to report and edit for the New York World, the New York Herald Tribune, and the Chicago Tribune. He eventually became a staff writer at the New Yorker, where he wrote for thirty years, and its managing editor from 1936-1939. He married five times, each of the marriages ending in divorce, and died in 1980 at the age of 74.
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 6, 2014

    A gem

    The best gift you can buy a literate person. Journalism perfection.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 10, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Fascinating stories, no strings attached

    I really love it when a reporter is able to do an in-depth article that includes volumes of research and subtle details that make you really know the subject, and that is what the New Yorker is famous for. For example, last month they had a very detailed and fascinating article about some Serbian diamond thiefs, the "Pink Panthers". It didn't just cover their crimes, but went on to their upbringing, their techniques, the methods of searching for them, and on and on. Most magazines are not willing to give up the space for such depth.

    That's why Reporting at Wit's End "Tales from the New Yorker" by St. Clair McKelway, is such a treat for me. It's a collection of the best articles New Yorker has offered, but in a totally inventive way. It selects feature articles from different decades, the 1930s, 40s, 50s and concludes with two from the 1960s. These aren't famous people biographies or even well-known articles, just well-written articles about subjects fascinating at the time.

    One is "Average Cop", a very long study of one of New York's finest, as he goes about his day, from a 1930s issue. Big details and little details are combined to make a complete character study, and it's done uniquely: there's no mockery or subtle elevation of his character. It's just about him. As he is. There's no effort made to push a political agenda or disclose social ills. It's a simple story about a man, and it's fascinating.

    From the 1950s, an article called "The Rich Recluse of Herald Square" about the death of an elderly hoarder, and her mysterious life. Little details make it painful and tragic, and yet there's this strange sense of power that this woman and her sister had, in order to put the world in its place (and out of theirs). Little pictures of human kindness abound.

    This is a great collection, and one that I personally enjoyed very much. I thought it was interesting to see the changes in writing and social details between the decades discussed. What was considered improper in the 1930s is handled without note in the 1960s. A great supplement to American history for the 20th century.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 19, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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