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Famed New Yorker writer Joseph Mitchell, as a young newspaper reporter in 1930s New York, interviewed fan dancers, street evangelists, voodoo conjurers, not to mention a lady boxer who also happened to be a countess. Mitchell haunted parts of the city now vanished: the fish market, burlesque houses, tenement neighborhoods, and storefront churches. Whether he wrote about a singing first baseman for the Brooklyn Dodgers or a nudist who does a reverse striptease, Mitchell brilliantly illuminated the humanity in the oddest New Yorkers.
These pieces, written primarily for The World-Telegram and The Herald Tribune, highlight his abundant gifts of empathy and observation, and give us the full-bodied picture of the famed New Yorker writer Mitchell would become.
|Publisher:||Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)|
About the Author
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
My Ears Are Bent first published in 1938 is quintessential Joseph Mitchell, and that's saying quite a bit as many would call him the best writer to ever work at the New Yorker. The pieces included in this volume were written prior to his tenure at the New Yorker, years he worked as a writer for The World, The Herald Tribune, and The World-Telegram. His beat, his love, his passion was New York City, and for that we are the beneficiaries as he captured what is now a lost time and place with humor, grace, and piercing reportorial eye. His words mirror sights, sounds, emotions and, yes, even smells and tastes. One is tempted to say that he knew and interviewed people from all walks of life, but it is more accurate to say that many of his subjects were from the periphery of life. There is Miss Mazie, a flamboyant blonde former burlesque dancer with a heart of gold who owns a small movie theater in the Bowery. She sits in a tiny ticket booth each night with her small dog in her lap. It never bothers her that 'Sometimes a bum goes in there at 10 o'clock in the morning, and at midnight he is still there, sleeping in his seat, snoring as if he owns the joint.' After all, Miss Mazie reasons everyone needs a place to sleep. She never turns down a panhandler, has never met a man good enough to marry, and dreams of becoming a nun. However, as she says, 'I am practically a nun now. The only difference between me and a nun is that I smoke, drink booze, and talk rough.' Mitchell describes the most interesting athlete he ever interviewed, a second-rate ball player who later became known as Billy Sunday, a memorable Christian evangelist he chats with a very young Gene Krupa, and a 60-year-old George M. Cohan. Not one to be attracted only to the famous he pens unforgettable lines about an 81-year-old woman just arrived from Ischia. She's taken aback by the city but feels quite at home once she is in her son's grocery story among the scent of olive oil and chunky Parma hams. Each of the articles and short stories in this collection is filled with wit, empathy, and understanding. Mitchell is one of a kind and so are the people of whom he wrote. Highly recommended. - Gail Cooke