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Gone: The Last Days of The New Yorker

Adler, Renata

Published by Simon and Schuster, New York, 1999
ISBN 10: 0684808161 / ISBN 13: 9780684808161
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Bibliographic Details


Title: Gone: The Last Days of The New Yorker

Publisher: Simon and Schuster, New York

Publication Date: 1999

Binding: Hard Cover

Book Condition: Very Good +

Dust Jacket Condition: Very Good

Signed: Signed by Author

Edition: First Edition.

Description:

First printing, full number line. Signed by the author on a tipped-in page before the front endpaper: "Renata Adler." Book is unmarked; spine slant; corners sharp, spine ends bumped. The dust jacket is not price-clipped (original price $24.00); edgewear at spine ends and corners; a half-inch closed tear at top of spine; an "Autographed Copy" sticker on the front panel; Brodart protected. Size: 8vo - over 7¾" - 9¾" tall. Bookseller Inventory # 006706

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(57 ratings)

Synopsis: From a legendary journalist and star writer at "The New Yorker" comes an insider's look at the magazine's tumultuous yet glorious years under the direction of the enigmatic William Shaw.

Review: Renata Adler's fulminating, fascinating defense and prosecution of her longtime employer The New Yorker may not be the best book ever written on the subject. Brendan Gill's Here at the New Yorker remains the classic, and Nancy Franklin's profile of Katharine White in Life Stories is more graceful and insightful. But Gone is without doubt the hottest (as ex-editor Tina Brown might say) chronicle of the magazine's history: a scathing portrait of a world with the mad logic of Alice's Wonderland and intrigues as viciously intricate as anything in le Carré.

Adler's narrative zooms like a speedboat through decade after decade of controversy. Still, Gone is essentially a heart-shredding account of the fall of a dynasty--that of longtime editor William Shawn, one of the century's crucial journalistic geniuses. "Mr. Shawn was the father," recalls Adler, "Lillian Ross, the mother. The son was Jonathan Schell; the spirit was J.D. Salinger. This family, it seemed to me, was ferociously judgmental." Yet nobody is more ferocious than the author herself, who was taken into the bosom of this family and stomps all its members to smithereens.

According to Adler, she was one of the lucky few invited into the circle of Mr. Shawn's biological clan, not to mention the parallel world of his mistress and "office wife" Lillian Ross. The author is quick to take Ross to task for her own trash-talking memoir of Shawn. Yet Adler is hardly a whit less destructive in Gone, although she wields the shiv with far greater literary skill. Indeed, those who still worship at the late editor's shrine will be shocked at her portrait of Shawn as a cruel despot who nurtured and destroyed talent according to meticulously articulated, infinitely arbitrary, altogether lunatic rules adjudicated by himself alone. Apparently he had three main responses to criticism: silence, lies, and high-handedness cloaked as high-mindedness. Adler rages at Shawn's hypocrisy, citing his refusal to give his son Wallace Shawn a job on the basis of the magazine's "No Nepotism rule." Not only was this rule nonexistent but the editor rubbed salt in the wound by hiring Schell instead, who happened to be the younger Shawn's college roommate.

Adler notes that the writers who bullied the conflict-averse Shawn tended to prosper, while those who revered him withered away, unpublished. Amazingly, she blames literature's loss of Salinger on Shawn: the ever-elusive author of The Catcher in the Rye "said that the reason he chose not to publish the material he had been working on was to spare Mr. Shawn the burden of having to read, and to decide whether to publish, Salinger writing about sex." Space, alas, prevents full comment on all of Adler's red-hot disclosures. Suffice it to say, however, that like a certain Truman Capote piece she insists on trashing, Adler's memoir of her office family is written in cold blood indeed. --Tim Appelo

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