The Long-winded Lady: Notes from The New Yorker

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9781619027114: The Long-winded Lady: Notes from The New Yorker

Of all the incomparable stable of journalists who wrote for The New Yorker during its glory days in the Fifties and Sixties,” writes The Independent, the most distinctive was Irish-born Maeve Brennan.” From 1954 to 1981, Maeve Brennan wrote for The New Yorker’s Talk of the Town” column under the pen name The Long-Winded Lady.” Her unforgettable sketches prose snapshots of life in small restaurants, cheap hotels, and crowded streets of Times Square and the Village together form a timeless, bittersweet tribute to what she called the most reckless, most ambitious, most confused, most comical, the saddest and coldest and most human of cities.”

First published in 1969, The Long-Winded Lady is a celebration of one of The New Yorker’s finest writers at the height of her power. As contemporary culture revisits with new appreciation the pioneering female voices of the past century, Maeve Brennan remains a writer whose dazzling work continues to embolden a new generation.

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Review:

Editors at the New Yorker may come and go, but readers will always return for the great cartoons and the "Talk of the Town." One of the best-loved contributors to the latter--the magazine's own brand of gossip column--was Maeve Brennan who, from 1954 to 1981, offered her wry observations of New York life under the sobriquet "The Long-Winded Lady." This compendium of her articles was first published in 1969 and is now reprinted with the addition of nine more previously uncollected pieces. The result is the answer to every "Talk of the Town"-lover's prayer.

Take, for example, "A Young Man with a Menu," in which Brennan watches "a young man persuade a girl to join him for dinner by reading the menu to her over the telephone." She describes the restaurant, Longchamps, as "ready-made for episodes of intrigue and pursuit" and the first appearance of the young man--"his expression as he entered the restaurant said that he was intent on something--one thing--and indifferent to everything else." She takes us through the phone call, which she observes from a distance: "He read from all sections of the menu. I had a menu of my own, so I could tell just about where he was." But, typically Brennan-like, she ushers us out of the piece just as the girl arrives, without letting us "even see the color of her hair." Every piece in this collection is as precise and as surprising as this one; anyone who loves New York, The New Yorker, or Maeve Brennan will savor The Long-Winded Lady. --Alix Wilber

About the Author:

Maeve Brennan left Ireland for American in 1934, when she was seventeen. In 1949, she joined the staff of The New Yorker, to which she contributed reviews, essays, and short stories. Her acclaimed works The Rose Garden, The Visitor, and The Springs of Affection are also available from Counterpoint. Maeve Brennan died in 1993 at the age of seventy-six.

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