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St. Clair McKelway (1905–1980)

Forfatter af Reporting at Wit's End: Tales from the New Yorker

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Værker af St. Clair McKelway

Associated Works

A Subtreasury of American Humor (1941) — Bidragyder — 277 eksemplarer
The 40s: The Story of a Decade (2014) — Bidragyder — 277 eksemplarer
The Best American Humorous Short Stories (1945) — Bidragyder — 84 eksemplarer
Stories from The New Yorker, 1950 to 1960 (1958) — Bidragyder — 80 eksemplarer
The Best American Short Stories 1963 (1963) — Bidragyder — 19 eksemplarer
The Best American Short Stories 1961 (1961) — Bidragyder — 10 eksemplarer
The Ethnic Image in Modern American Literature, 1900-1950 (1984) — Bidragyder — 1 eksemplar

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While maybe not every one of the selections here is an absolute classic, a high percentage of them certainly are. McKelway's writing is often sharp, funny, and excellent.
½
 
Markeret
JBD1 | 20 andre anmeldelser | Jul 7, 2023 |
St. Clair McKelway wrote for The New Yorker for 30 years. This collection pulls together some of his essays from each decade. He is thoughtful and humorous; the essays feature the common-man type of New Yorker rather than the newsmakers of the era.
 
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gbelik | 20 andre anmeldelser | Jun 17, 2016 |
These are more-or-less true crime reports written for the New Yorker and therefore have a style more light and witty than serious and scholarly. To me the most interesting is study of Mock Duck a.k.a. Mock Sai Wing, a leader of the Hip Sing Tong in New York's Chinatown.
 
Markeret
antiquary | Aug 18, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
For a modern reader (well, for me, anyway), it can take a little while to get into the rhythm of St. Clair McKelway’s “Tales from The New Yorker,” which are gathered in this 600-page volume under the title Reporting at Wit’s End.

McKelway typically starts off with a tantalizing situation, often the discovery of a theft or fraud of some sort. Then the story meanders, layering detail upon detail, until we know more than we ever imagined we’d want to know about forgers, or embezzlers, or religious cult followers.

Each of these stories is, as Adam Gopnik describes them in his introduction, a “short, significant parable.” But the word “parable” is misleading. At first, unconsciously, I kept waiting for the kind of conclusion we get from a parable—an object lesson or, at least, a “so, therefore...” moment, when the story would connect up to some larger observation about what motivates people to embark on a life of crime or self-delusion. But this sort of generalization is precisely what we don’t get. As Gopnik explains it: “The typical magazine ‘trend’ piece says, almost always falsely, ‘More and more people are acting this way!’ The classic McKelway piece says, accurately, ‘Very, very few people act this way, which is what makes the ones who do so interesting.’”

The overinterpretation of societal trends is hardly a new phenomenon (and if I describe it as a growing one, I’ll just be providing an example of it). But it can be hard to find a respite from the ubiquitous summing up, in old and new media alike, of what things signify. As a temporary escape, I enjoyed spending a little time with McKelway’s embezzlers and forgers, who don’t signify anything, or represent anybody, but themselves.

After a couple of false starts, I picked up the book one evening last summer after watching a classic 1946 film noir, The Blue Dahlia. I was happy to sustain my noir-ish mood through two short McKelway vignettes, “This Is It, Honey” (1953) and “The Perils of Pearl and Olga” (1946), both set firmly in that heartless, amoral, but often drily humorous world we know from forties noir. In “This Is It, Honey,” a man confesses to killing his girlfriend in a failed suicide pact, but we soon realize that something else—something very peculiar—is going on. And in “Pearl and Olga,” the naïve Pearl is persuaded to follow Olga onto a subway and “take a picture” of her with a camera concealed in a shoe box—but is the “camera” really a camera?

My appetite whetted, I read a few longer pieces. “The Wily Wilby” gives us an emblematic McKelway character—an embezzler who, according to one of his wives, is “an admirable man except for that one quirk, or whatever it is.” In “Mister 880,” a 63-year-old man sets about guaranteeing “a modest independence” in his old age by embarking on what McKelway calls a “restrained career as a counterfeiter,” specializing in fake one-dollar bills. And in “Who Is This King of Glory?,” a profile of the charismatic preacher Father Divine, McKelway—largely steering clear of stereotype and cliché—takes this self-styled “God” straight, on his own terms, letting the reader decide what it all adds up to.

This unemotional stance is typical of Reporting at Wit’s End, and it’s probably why, in the end, I was content to read just a sampling of these stories. For McKelway and his whole generation of New Yorker writers, says Adam Gopnik, who first encountered these pieces when he was just starting to write for The New Yorker himself, “The reformer’s rage was as alien to the style as the reactionary’s revulsion.” Without a commitment to strong emotion, to rage or revulsion, the challenge for this kind of story is to keep it interesting. In this—not always, but certainly at his best—St. Clair McKelway succeeds.
… (mere)
 
Markeret
ashkenazi | 20 andre anmeldelser | Nov 8, 2010 |

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Værker
3
Also by
11
Medlemmer
190
Popularitet
#114,774
Vurdering
3.8
Anmeldelser
22
ISBN
2
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