Janet, My Mother, and Me: A Memoir of Growing Up with Janet Flanner and Natalia Danesi Murray

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Simon and Schuster, 2000 - Biography & Autobiography - 318 pages
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"Janet, My Mother, and Me" is a charming, captivating memoir about a boy growing up in a household of two extraordinary women. William Murray was devoted to his mother, Natalia Danesi Murray, and to his mother's longtime lover, writer Janet Flanner. Even as a teenager, he accepted their unconventional relationship. His portrait of the two most important people in his life is unforgettable.

Janet Flanner was already celebrated as the author of a new style of personal journalism for her "Letter from Paris" in "The New Yorker" when she met the Italian-born Natalia Murray on Fire Island, New York, in 1940. Their encounter, writes William Murray, was a ""coup de foudre," a thunderbolt that instantly sent them rushing into each other's arms and forever altered their lives, as well as mine."

Murray was already growing up in two cultures on different continents, in New York and Rome, when his mother's life changed so dramatically. He quickly accepted Flanner and the unusual household in which he found himself. (Natalia's mother, Mammina Ester, also lived with them in New York.) His memories of the women and of his own boyhood and adolescence are touching and often hilarious.

"Janet, My Mother, and Me" offers a look at the world in which gay professional women moved in the decades before such relationships became more open and accepted. Murray's mother was a publishing executive and a broadcaster, and Murray, who originally hoped to become an opera singer and trained for that profession, eventually moved into the professions of both his mother and Flanner, becoming a novelist and then for many years an editor and writer at "The New Yorker."

This is an exuberant, warm, andoften poignant memoir with a memorable cast of characters. Beguiling and unusual, it will remain vivid in readers' minds for years to come.

 

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Janet, my mother, and me: a memoir of growing up with Janet Flanner and Natalia Danesi Murray

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Murray, a former staff writer at The New Yorker, here chronicles what it was like to be raised in a world presided over by two brilliant and forceful women, Natalia Danesi Murray and her longtime ... Read full review

Contents

Immortality
13
The Best Summer of My Life
23
Genet
37
Italian Voices
48
A Conscious Foreigner
65
A Golden Age
77
Love on a Rooftop
86
Comings and Goings
100
Debuts and Departures
173
The Generals Blessing
187
Stepping into the Program
197
Stendhals Protege
210
The Strain of Tender Feelings
222
The Rat Pile
232
A Dollar a Day to Say I Love You
247
The Italian Connection
257

Going Hollywood
109
Bones
122
Transitions
136
Roads to Rome
148
A Portrait of the Heart
162
An End and a Beginning
267
Little Celebrations
278
We Enjoyed Them
288
Index
303
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About the author (2000)

William Murray was a staff writer at The New Yorker for more than thirty years. He is the author or translator of more than twenty books, both fiction and nonfiction, seven of which have been selected as New York Times notable books of the year. He lives in San Diego.

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