Brendan Gill sold his first story to the New Yorker in 1936, when he was 21, and has worked there ever since. When his irreverent memoir appeared in 1975, it caused the most delightful of frissons, because the outside world then knew little about his workplace. Gill declares that "in the old Ross-Shawn days, what hadn't happened at the magazine was more worthy of note than what had." In reality, of course, a great deal was happening, and Gill seems to have heard and remembered it all. (This edition also contains a 1997 introduction, complete with acute and politic comments on the Bob Gottlieb and Tina Brown regimes.) But Here at the New Yorker is far from an exposť, consisting instead of the recollections of a lucky man who loves his work and many of his fellows.
Each reader will have his or her favorite anecdotes. Gill remembers taking the subway with Marianne Moore, who was squeezed next to two high school musicians. "Miss Moore stared with admiration at the drum, then said to the boy holding the drumsticks, 'Sonny, when the time comes, give it a big bang just for me.'" And, speaking of big bangs, the old New Yorker was far more squeamish--an organ in which bare nipples were nowhere to be found. Its first editor, Harold Ross, shown a cartoon complete with one such entity, growled: "Take that goddam tit up to Mrs. White and ask her what to do about it." His successor, William Shawn, shared his modesty though not his speech patterns. When Mr. Shawn asked the novelist Henry Green what led him to write Loving, Green's reply wasn't quite what he had expected. Alas, readers, you must turn to page 386 of this endlessly charming book for the offending response. [via]