Reporting at Wit's End: Tales from The New Yorker

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Bloomsbury Publishing USA, Jul 22, 2010 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 640 pages
11 Reviews

"Why does A. J. Liebling remain a vibrant role model for writers while the superb, prolific St. Clair McKelway has been sorely forgotten?" James Wolcott asked this question in a recent review of the Complete New Yorker on DVD. Anyone who has read a single paragraph of McKelway's work would struggle to provide an answer.

His articles for the New Yorker were defined by their clean language and incomporable wit, by his love of New York's rough edges and his affection for the working man (whether that work was come by honestly or not). Like Joseph Mitchell and A. J. Liebling, McKelway combined the unflagging curiosity of a great reporter with the narrative flair of a master storyteller. William Shawn, the magazine's long-time editor, described him as a writer with the "lightest of light touches." His style is so striking, Shawn went on to say, that "it was too odd to be imitated."

The pieces collected here are drawn from two of McKelway's books--True Tales from the Annals of Crime and Rascality (1951) and The Big Little Man from Brooklyn (1969). His subjects are the small players who in their particulars defined life in New York during the 36 years McKelway wrote: the junkmen, boxing cornermen, counterfeiters, con artists, fire marshals, priests, and beat cops and detectives. The "rascals."

An amazing portrait of a long forgotten New York by the reporter who helped establish and utterly defined New Yorker "fact writing," Untitled Collection is long overdue celebration of a truly gifted writer.


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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - ashkenazi - LibraryThing

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 ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - KStewart3446 - LibraryThing

McKelway, St. Clair, Reporting at Wit’s End, Tales from The New Yorker. New York: Bloomsbury USA, 2010. This collection of pieces published in The New Yorker magazine from the mid-thirties to the mid ... Read full review


Place and Leave With
The Innocent Man at Sing Sing
Average Cop
Some Fun with the F B I
The Wily Wilby
Gossip Writer
The Blowing of the Top of Peter Roger Oboe
The Cockatoo
A Case of Felony Murder
This Is It Honey
The Perils of Pearl and Olga
The Rich Recluse of Herald Square
The Edinburgh Caper
The Big Little Man from Brooklyn

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About the author (2010)

St. Clair McKelway came from a family of newspaper journalists and ministers. Born in 1905, in Charlotte, NC, he grew up in Washington, DC, and worked his first job as an office boy at the old Washington Times-Herald. He went on to report and edit for the New York World, the New York Herald Tribune, and the Chicago Tribune. He eventually became a staff writer at the New Yorker, where he wrote for thirty years, and its managing editor from 1936-1939. He married five times, each of the marriages ending in divorce, and died in 1980 at the age of 74.

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