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American Poems: Book: Life Stories: Profiles from The New Yorker (Modern Library Paperbacks)
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 Home » Book » Life Stories: Profiles from The New Yorker (Modern Library Paperbacks)

Life Stories: Profiles from The New Yorker (Modern Library Paperbacks)

  • Creator:David Remnick
  • Publisher:Modern Library
  • Category:Book
  • List Price: $18.00
  • Buy New: $9.35
  • as of 9/23/2014 10:52 EDT details
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In Stock
  • Seller:TOTAL BOOKS
  • Sales Rank:245,919
  • Languages:English (Unknown), English (Original Language), English (Published)
  • Media:Paperback
  • Number Of Items:1
  • Edition:Expanded
  • Pages:624
  • Shipping Weight (lbs):1.6
  • Dimensions (in):9.2 x 1.1 x 6.1
  • Publication Date:May 15, 2001
  • ISBN:0375757511
  • EAN:9780375757518
  • ASIN:0375757511
Availability:Usually ships in 1-2 business days

Editorial Reviews:
One of art's purest challenges is to translate a human being into words. The New Yorker has met this challenge more successfully and more originally than any other modern American journal. It has indelibly shaped the genre known as the Profile. Starting with light-fantastic evocations of glamorous and idiosyncratic figures of the twenties and thirties, such as Henry Luce and Isadora Duncan, and continuing to the present, with complex pictures of such contemporaries as Mikhail Baryshnikov and Richard Pryor, this collection of New Yorker Profiles presents readers with a portrait gallery of some of the most prominent figures of the twentieth century. These Profiles are literary-journalistic investigations into character and accomplishment, motive and madness, beauty and ugliness, and are unrivalled in their range, their variety of style, and their embrace of humanity. Review
Way back in 1926 the founding editor of The New Yorker suggested that the title Profiles be registered with the copyright bureau. Harold Ross had ample reason, for though he didn't invent the word itself, he certainly invested it with new significance. Over the years, New Yorker Profiles came to represent a new kind of biography: concise, well-researched, and impeccably written sketches of personalities who were often famous--but just as often not. Take for example "Mr. Hunter's Grave," Joseph Mitchell's 1956 Profile of George H. Hunter, the 87-year-old chairman of the board of trustees of the African Methodist church on Staten Island. This delightful piece leads off a select group of Profiles culled from The New Yorker's first 75 years and collected in Life Stories, edited by David Remnick. More a study of a place and a way of life than of a particular man, Mitchell's Profile stretched the parameters of the form.

The very next piece, Mark Singer's "Secrets of the Magus," is a prime example of what The New Yorker does best. In Ricky Jay, "perhaps the most gifted sleight-of-hand artist alive," Singer has hit on a quirky, eccentric, and fascinating subject--one that offers plenty of scope for writer and reader alike to dip into an arcane and little-known world of magicians, mountebanks, card handlers, and confidence men. Alva Johnston achieves similar success in "The Education of a Prince," his 1932 Profile of con man Harry F. Gerguson, who spent years masquerading as the lost Prince Michael Alexandrovitch Dmitry Obolensky Romanoff:

The Prince had a glittering career in New York, Boston, Newport, on Long Island, in high-caste settlements along the Hudson, and among the aristocracies of a dozen American cities. Twice he swept over Hollywood in a confetti shower of bad checks. He was repeatedly exposed, but exposure does not embarrass him greatly. He is widely admired today, not for his title but for his own sake. He has convinced a fairly large public that a good imposter is preferable to the average prince.
Of course The New Yorker covered plenty of household names, as well, and Life Stories contains sketches of such celebrities as Mikhail Baryshnikov, Johnny Carson, Richard Pryor and Marlon Brando. The arts are well represented by pieces on Ernest Hemingway, Anatole Broyard, and David Salle, and even the contributors are stellar, including such well-known scribes as Henry Louis Gates Jr., Truman Capote, and John McPhee.

But where is that famous Profile of the sea by Rachel Carson, you ask? Pauline Kael's piece on Cary Grant or Janet Malcolm's controversial study of psychoanalyst Aaron Green? In his introduction Remnick acknowledges the many great Profiles that did not make it into this volume, explaining that he decided to publish pieces only in full. "I wanted the reader to get the real thing--no excerpts, no snippets," he writes. "As a result the reader will have to go elsewhere for a range of long or multipart Profiles." What's here is choice, though, and die-hard New Yorker aficionados who turn to the Profiles even before perusing the cartoons won't be disappointed by what they find. All in all, Life Stories makes a fine 75th anniversary bouquet for the magazine's many devoted readers. --Alix Wilber

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