July 28, 2007

Here But Not Here: My Life with William Shawn and The New Yorker
Lillian Ross

Alas – Somewhere about 20 words into the winding first line of a piece in the front of The New Yorker I find myself feeling a sense of electricity – it’s an actual buzz – and the sensation lifts a knowing smile to my face and lowers my eyes to the byline: Lillian Ross. “I knew it.” Miss Ross is perhaps the sharpest observer, with eye and ear, to grace the pages of an American magazine. She offers a uniquely “subjective objectivity” no other writer can match. So it’s with disappointment that I found this memoir lacking the same angle of repose on its subject when the subject is herself and her beloved Bill Shawn. Still, how can you not enjoy a breezy read in which you open to any three pages and find stories about Hemingway and Dietrich, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein and Joshua Logan, Rachel Carson and Ingmar Bergman and Tina Brown?


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