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.
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. (Feb.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.