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Life Stories: Profiles from The New Yorker

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | Life Stories: Profiles from The New Yorker.pdf | Language: ENGLISH
    David Remnick(Editor)

    Book details

One of art's purest challenges is to translate a human being into words. The New Yorker magazine has met this challenge more often and more successfully--and more originally and more surprisingly--than any other modern American journal.

Starting with its light fantastic evocations of the glamorous and the idiosyncratic in the twenties and continuing to the present, with complex pictures of such contemporaries as Mikhail Baryshnikov and Richard Pryor, The New Yorker's Profiles have presented readers with a vast and brilliant portrait gallery of our day and age. These literary-journalistic investigations into character and accomplishment, motive and madness, beauty and ugliness, are unrivaled in their range, variety of style, and embrace of humanity.

To help mark the occasion of The New Yorker's seventy-fifth anniversary, Life Stories puts into one volume, for the first time, some of the most outstanding examples of this exemplary tradition. Here you will find Wolcott Gibbs on Henry Luce, Lillian Ross on Ernest Hemingway, and Susan Orlean on show dog Biff Truesdale. And in some of the exhibit's many other rooms you will find startling likenesses of Marlon Brando by Truman Capote, magician Ricky Jay by Mark Singer, pitcher Steve Blass by Roger Angell, and Anatole Broyard by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

When they were first published in the magazine, these essential biographies brought insight, amusement, understanding, and, often, joy or sorrow to those who read them. Gathered together here, in Life Stories, they provide us with an album of our era, a rich and diverse appraisal of some of the most prominent members of an entire century's cast.

Way back in 1926 the founding editor of The New Yorker suggested that the title Profiles be registered with the copyright bureau. Harold Ross had ample reason, for though he didn't invent the word itself, he certainly invested it with new significance. Over the years, New Yorker Profiles came to represent a new kind of biography: concise, well-researched, and impeccably written sketches of personalities who were often famous--but just as often not. Take for example "Mr. Hunter's Grave," Joseph Mitchell's 1956 Profile of George H. Hunter, the 87-year-old chairman of the board of trustees of the African Methodist church on Staten Island. This delightful piece leads off a select group of Profiles culled from The New Yorker's first 75 years and collected in Life Stories, edited by David Remnick. More a study of a place and a way of life than of a particular man, Mitchell's Profile stretched the parameters of the form. To long-time readers of the New Yorker, one of the reasons to welcome this excellent collection of 43 stories written over the past seven decades will be the recollection of their first encounters with some of the writers who were fresh new voices when their stories set in Manhattan first appeared. Such then-newcomers as Lorrie Moore, Jeffrey Eugenides, Deborah Eisenberg, Anne Beattie and Laurie Colwin portray New York in their distinctive voices. The literary Old Guard is here in solid phalanx too: stories by John Updike, Bernard Malamud, John O'Hara, Elizabeth Hardwick, John Cheever, Peter Taylor and William Maxwell define aspects of their decades with timeless clarity. Holden Morrisey Caulfield makes his debut in J. P. Salinger's "A Slight Rebellion Off Madison"(1946); Philip Roth's millionaire author Zuckerman is accosted on Second Avenue in "Smart Money"(1981); one of Isaac Bashevis Singer's innumerable group of displaced Jews and ardent lovers holds forth in "The Cafeteria" (1968) on the Lower East Side. At opposite ends of the emotional spectrum, two entries, Woody Allen's "The Whore of Mensa," (1974) and "Mid-Air" (1984), by Frank Conroy, have become classics. Published this year, Jonathan Franzen's "The Failure" defines the '90s in the city, yet Maeve Brennan's 1966 "I See You, Bianca," a quiet narrative about loss highlighted by "the struggle for space in Manhattan," could have been written today. If Dorothy Parker's wit now seems shrill ("Arrangement in Black and White," 1927 ), and Irwin Shaw's "Sailor Off the Bremen," from the same year, seems mannered, Jean Stafford's "Children Are Bored on Sunday"(1948), still resonates with a peculiarly New York atmosphere. Of course, there are tales from such New Yorker stalwarts as John McNulty, S. J. Perelman, E. B. White and James Thurber. Manhattan as geographical area and emotional landscape takes visible shape as haven and hell, locus of opportunity and of dead end lives. Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Book details

  • PDF | 544 pages
  • David Remnick(Editor)
  • Random House; 1st edition (January 11, 2000)
  • English
  • 9
  • Biographies & Memoirs

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Review Text

  • By bill katovsky on May 29, 2000

    this collection is worth the price of admission to two profiles--johnny carson and marlon brando. thoughtfully assembled, this "greatest hits" made me not feel so bad when i threw out old, favorite issues of the new yorker, only to discover some of those much beloved profiles in this collection. yet for some space reasons, many of the multipart profiles (i.e.the schizophrenic "slyvia frumpkin" or the psychiatrist "aaron") don't have a home here. my plea, as a reader, is that the new yorker should annually produce these anthologies. oh yeah, the cover is absolutely brilliant.

  • By S. Fowler on January 3, 2007

    If you are a fan of biographies but are intimidated by 1,000-page tomes, Life Stories is a great choice. Some say the New Yorker invented the "profile," and though it does seem the magazine was the first to call its biographical pieces by that name (amazing, considering how ubiquitous the term is today), editor David Remnick is quick to assert that they hardly invented the style. What they have done for decades is find the most interesting people and have the best writers provide illumination. Nearly every profile here is profound and nearly every one of them is short enough to read in a single (long) sitting. And while it's a treat to learn intimate details of some of the most famous people of the 20th century, it's the profiles of the lesser-known people that shine: from Joseph Mitchell's encounter with an aging churchman with a penchant for baking to the story of the Chudnovsky brothers, Russian emigres who built a supercomputer in their apartment from salvaged parts. Fantastic reading from start to finish.

  • By Timothy Schum on December 2, 2014

    As with any anthology, there are articles/stories of great interest, some that are OK and some you stop reading after a few paragraphs.The majority of the stories were, of course, very well written.Reaching back to bios such as that of Henry Luce was worth the read while anything that Roger Angel writes I look forward to with anticipation. While I had read the on Steve Blass some time ago, it still was enjoyable on its reread.Now that I think about it there were few stories I failed to dig into!

  • By Ethan Cooper on August 2, 2002

    Hemingway, Baryishnikov, and Henry Luce are the subjects of some of my favorite celebrity profiles in this wonderful book. But topping my list is "Man Goes to See a Doctor", the awesome Adam Gopnik's sweet and funny rendering of his shrink. Here's a snippet: "Your problems remind me of" - and here he named one of the heroes of the New York School. "Fortunately, you suffer from neither impotence nor alcoholism. This is in your favor." Highly recommended!

  • By N. Verity on September 26, 2005

    This is a collection of prime examples of the long gone "profile" piece in The New Yorker magazine. They just don't write 'em like this anymore!Choose Truman Capote's profile of Marlon Brando, or Lillian Ross' profile of Ernest Hemingway, or any of the 20-some other profiles in this book. You will read some of the best writing about some of the most exciting people in 20th Century history.Is there a second volume in the works? I hope so!

  • By fred h. kaplowitz on August 21, 2017

    Liked it very much. Good variety of people. Excellent profiles

  • By Jaylia123 on November 6, 2012

    This is a non-fiction anthology about the rich, famous, celebrities, etc. I enjoy reading this book so much that it hard to put down and get to work on my own stuff. However, it's great entertainment and reading how the other half lives; This book satisfied my curiosity about the rich and famous.

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