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Janet, My Mother, and Me: A Memoir Of Growing Up With Janet Flanner and Natalia Danesi Murray

Murray, William

Published by Simon & Schuster, 2000
ISBN 10: 0684809664 / ISBN 13: 9780684809663
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Bibliographic Details


Title: Janet, My Mother, and Me: A Memoir Of ...

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publication Date: 2000

Binding: hardcover

Book Condition: Very Good In Dustjacket

Edition: 1st Edition.

Description:

New York. 2000. Simon & Schuster. 1st American Edition. Very Good In Dustjacket. 318 pages. February 2000. hardcover. Jacket design by Kai Chu. Signed by The Author. 0684809664. keywords: Autobiography America New York Literature. inventory # 33336. FROM THE PUBLISHER - JANET, MY MOTHER, AND ME is a charming, captivating memoir about a boy growing up in household of two extraordinary women. William Murray was devoted to his mother, Natalia Danesi Murray, and to his mother’s longtime lover, writer Janet Flanner. Even as a teenager, he accepted their unconventional relationship. His portrait of the two most important people in his life is unforgettable. Janet Flanner was already celebrated as the author of a new style of personal journalism for her ‘Letter from Paris: in The New Yorker when she met the Italian-born Natalia Murray on Fire Island, New York, in 1940. Their encounter, writes William Murray, was a ‘coup de foudre, a thunderbolt that instantly sent them rushing into each other’s arms and forever altered their lives, as well as mine.’ Murray was already growing up in two cultures on different continents, in New York and Rome, when his mother’s life changed so dramatically. He quickly accepted Flanner and the unusual household in which he found himself. (Natalia’s mother, Mammina Ester, also lived with them in New York.) His memories of the women and of his own boyhood and adolescence are touching and often hilarious. JANET, MY MOTHER, AND ME offers a look at the world in which gay professional women moved in the decades before such relationships became more open and accepted. Murray’s mother was a publishing executive and a broadcaster, and Murray, who originally hoped to become an opera singer and trained for that profession, eventually moved into the professions of both his mother and Flanner, becoming a novelist and then for many years an editor and writer at The New Yorker. This is an exuberant, warm, and often poignant memoir with a memorable cast of characters. Beguiling and unusual, it will remain vivid in readers’ minds for years to come. Bookseller Inventory # 33336

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Synopsis:

Janet, My Mother, and Me is a charming, captivating memoir about a boy growing up in a household of two extraordinary women. William Murray was devoted to his mother, Natalia Danesi Murray, and to his mother's longtime lover, writer Janet Flanner. Even as a teenager, he accepted their unconventional relationship. His portrait of the two most important people in his life is unforgettable.

Janet Flanner was already celebrated as the author of a new style of personal journalism for her "Letter from Paris" in The New Yorker when she met the Italian-born Natalia Murray on Fire Island, New York, in 1940. Their encounter, writes William Murray, was a "coup de foudre, a thunderbolt that instantly sent them rushing into each other's arms and forever altered their lives, as well as mine."

Murray was already growing up in two cultures on different continents, in New York and Rome, when his mother's life changed so dramatically. He quickly accepted Flanner and the unusual household in which he found himself. (Natalia's mother, Mammina Ester, also lived with them in New York.) His memories of the women and of his own boyhood and adolescence are touching and often hilarious.

Janet, My Mother, and Me offers a look at the world in which gay professional women moved in the decades before such relationships became more open and accepted. Murray's mother was a publishing executive and a broadcaster, and Murray, who originally hoped to become an opera singer and trained for that profession, eventually moved into the professions of both his mother and Flanner, becoming a novelist and then for many years an editor and writer at The New Yorker.

This is an exuberant, warm, and often poignant memoir with a memorable cast of characters. Beguiling and unusual, it will remain vivid in readers' minds for years to come.

Review: William Murray, a staff writer at The New Yorker for more than 30 years and author of more than 20 books, had the good fortune to be raised by a couple who loved one another intensely and doted on him completely. That the couple was composed of two remarkable and remarkably independent women who happened to be lovers didn't faze Murray in the least, despite the prevailing social winds of the '40s and '50s. That those two women were Natalia Danesi Murray (his mother) and Janet Flanner, The New Yorker's celebrated author of the "Letter from Paris" column, added indescribable richness to his life and helped inspire him towards his own career as a writer.

In this winning memoir, Murray narrates the life story of his mother (born in Rome, she would develop a diverse career that included freelance writer, radio broadcaster, actress, and publishing big wheel--a woman he describes as "an explosive force of nature"); his maternal grandmother, Mammina Ester (who lived with them and had herself been a journalistic and literary firebrand in Italy, and during WWI was the first Italian female war correspondent to ever visit a front); and Janet Flanner, who wrote under the pseudonym Genêt and was lauded in Mary McCarthy's elegy as a "first citizen and patron of the arts, with some mythic quality in her like a splendid sacred bird."

Murray tells his life story as well, growing up in New York and Italy, his life imbued with the fine arts of two cultures and the three women who raised him and molded him. His memoir is at once a movingly personal story, a revelation into the persona of three historic women, and an insight into how lesbians navigated their professional worlds and a disapproving society while maintaining a family life and a passion for one another. It's also a pleasant, gentle read, a story told in a genial tone about an earlier time. The individuals Murray describes are luminous personalities, and the reader feels privileged to share in their glow through the pages of this touching memoir. --Stephanie Gold

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