Late Bloomers

Brendan Gill, Author Artisan $14.95 (168p) ISBN 978-1-885183-48-4

Gill (Here at the New Yorker), a staff writer at the New Yorker since 1936, defines late bloomers as ""people who at whatever cost and whatever circumstances have succeeded in finding themselves."" This loose definition gives him license to include anyone he pleases in these one-page biographical sketches of 75 achievers in various fields. Authors Karen Blixen (1885-1962) and Joseph Conrad (1857-1924) are profiled because they pursued other occupations before they began writing, while Grandma Moses, who started painting in her late 70s, and Harriet Doerr, who published a first novel (The Stones of Ibarra) in late middle age, fit the traditional definition of a late bloomer. Other choices, such as Ruth Gordon, who began acting in her 20s and Mother Teresa, a Roman Catholic nun since the age of 18, are clearly a matter of Gill's personal whim. Although this compilation is a pleasant read, the information given on each person is so sketchy, its use will be primarily as a browsing item. Photos. (May)