Ne"/>

MY EARS ARE BENT

Joseph Mitchell, Author, Sheila McGrath, Foreword by, Dan Frank, Foreword by . Pantheon $23 (320p) ISBN 978-0-375-42103-7

"I don't think anything could be as much fun as to get a good hold on a pompous person and shake him or her until you can hear the false teeth rattling," says New Yorker cartoonist Peter Arno to journalist Mitchell in a World-Telegram profile from the 1930s, but the sentiment could be applied to Mitchell himself. With the ability to turn bluntness to beauty, sarcasm to sincerity and plain speech to poetry, Mitchell—who worked at the World-Telegram from 1930 to 1938 and spent the rest of his career at the New Yorker—was a reporter and literary artist par excellence, interested in nearly everyone and everything. His profile of a stripper who begins naked and puts on her clothes is as fascinating as his sketch of George Bernard Shaw. Similarly, he is as empathetic toward Mary Louise Cecilia Guinan (the speakeasy queen usually called "Texas") as he is to the plight of Anne Morrow Lindbergh testifying at the kidnapping trial of her infant son. These 37 pieces and profiles—most from the 1938 edition of this book, but with some new material added—are breathtaking in their simplicity and honesty. Written at a time when newspapers tried to be as sensational as possible without appearing vulgar—"belly" would be changed to "tummy" and "raped" became "criminally attacked"—Mitchell made New York City shockingly vibrant and colorful without cheapening his subjects. He also evinced an empathy for African-Americans that's startling for the period (and the genre). In all, his liberating and refreshing honesty makes these pieces as vivacious, original and important as they were 65 years ago. (June)

Forecast:The Stanley Tucci movie Joe Gould's Secret (1999), based on Mitchell's New Yorker piece and book by that title, has helped revive Mitchell's reputation and may be a useful hand-selling tool for this collection, which should sell in respectable numbers in the northeast and in literary outposts. Also in June, Pantheon will bring out the Mitchell collection McSorley's Wonderful Saloon, with a foreword by Calvin Trillin. ($25 384p ISBN 0-375-42102-5.)

Reviewed on: 05/28/2001
Release date: 06/01/2001
Show other formats
FORMATS
Open Ebook - 320 pages - 978-0-307-75811-8
Paperback - 299 pages - 978-0-375-72630-9
X
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Email Address

Password

Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email pw@pubservice.com with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.