About Thurber

My my my, there certainly are a lot of books about my cartoonist hero,  James Thurber. I thought it would be fun to show the ones in the Spill‘s library, but ran into two more while checking online for any current titles I’d missed ( #11, listed below, is out just this month…are there even more? Let me know). Three of the books below have been indispensable to me: Burton Bernstein’s biography,  Bowden’s bibliography, and Harrison Kinney’s massive biography.  I bought Mr. Bernstein’s biography while in college along with Brendan Gill’s Here At the New Yorker.  Those two books (along with The Thurber Carnival) were my rocket fuel to Manhattan and to the pages of the New Yorker.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(pictured at the top of the post: a Thurber eraser)

 

1. James Morsberger.  James Thurber. Twaynes United States Authors Series, 1964.

2. Edwin T. Bowden.  James Thurber: A Bibliography. Ohio State University Press,  1968.

3. Richard C. Tobias. The Art of James Thurber. Ohio University Press, 1969.

4. Charles S. Holmes.  The Clocks of Columbus. Athenium, 1972.

5. Burton Bernstein. Thurber.  Dodd, Mead, 1975.

6. Robert Emmet Long.  James Thurber.  Continuum, 1988.

7. Thomas Fensch (Ed.). Conversations With James Thurber. University Press of Mississippi, 1989.

8. Neil A. Grauer.  Remember Laughter: A Life of James Thurber. University of Nebraska Press, 1994.

9. Harrison Kinney.  James Thurber: His Life and Times. Henry Holt, 1995.

10. Alan Vanneman.  James Thurber: A Readers Guide. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2015.

11. Bob Hunter.  Thurberville. Trillium, 2017.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Steig Covers Brendan Gill’s Here At The New Yorker

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few days ago I took a look at Charles Addams’s original cover for Brendan Gill’s Here At The New Yorker (Random House, 1975).  Today I’m adding the 1990 edition of that book to the Spill’s New Yorker Cartoonists Library. This edition, published in the UK by Heinemann, features  a William Steig cover originally published by the New Yorker, February 14, 1964.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An even later edition (De Capo Press, 1997) features a typically exuberant Frank Modell drawing:

 

 

 

Luckily, Mr. Gill kept adding new introductions as each edition appeared, giving us a kind of play-by-play as the New Yorker‘s editors and the magazine itself changed over time.

A bonus tucked away at the end of every edition: “Shawn On Ross” — nearly eight pages about Harold Ross written by his successor, William Shawn.

Krementz photographs of Addams, Steinberg, Brendan Gill, S.J. Perelman, Renata Adler, Donald Barthelme & more

 

 

I stumbled across this piece today: “Jill Krementz Covers Saul Steinberg” — it’s chock full of photographs by Krementz of Steinberg including shots of him with Charles Addams, Donald Barthelme, and Woody Allen (there’s also a photo of Charles Addams with Jackie Kennedy Onassis).  Other New Yorker contributors pictured include Brendan Gill (wearing a funny straw hat), Ian Frazier, Renata Adler, and S.J. Perelman.  Enjoy!

Thurber Is #1

thurb:pb:photo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s silly to rate cartoonists, but around here, as anyone who follows Ink Spill knows, James Thurber is the #1 New Yorker cartoonist. Thinking about him on the eve of his birthday (he was born in Columbus, Ohio, December 8, 1894) I stood in front of the Thurber paperback section of our cartoon library, looking at title after title.  After taking several of the books down and thumbing through, I realized that there’s no better way to celebrate the man than by simply showing his work (or, in this case, some of it). Not all his titles are in the photograph, but the span of his career is represented (in paperback form) from Is Sex Necessary (co-authored with E.B. White) all the way up to the last book published while he was alive, Lanterns & Lances (it came out in April of 1961, just seven months before he died).

There are no favorites here, but I confess a fondness for the low-key graphics of the Penguin English paperbacks, with their vertical orange borders (there’s a Japanese copy of The Last Flower in the photo as well — I suppose it would be fun to start collecting Thurber editions from around the world).

What doesn’t surprise me after all these years of looking at Thurber’s work is that his drawings never disappoint. The seal in the bedroom never seems less than a miracle; the present Mrs. Harris on the bookcase continues to baffle in the best way; the naive domestic burgundy continues to amuse,  the War Between Men & Women never truly ends, and Dr. Millmoss has yet to be accounted for.

 

 

And…a little more Thurber:

See some of Thurber’s New Yorker work here.

Link here to a fun Thurber piece on the Attempted Bloggery site.

And…

William Shawn, The New Yorker‘s second editor (he presided over the magazine from 1952 through 1987) died on this day in 1992. Here’s a short piece marking the day.

If you have the double issue of the New Yorker dated December 28 1992 & January 4 1993, this would be a good day to take another look through. It contains a wonderful section, “Remembering Mr. Shawn” wherein you’ll find short pieces by, among others, Charles McGrath, Calvin Trillin, John Updike, Lee Lorenz, Kennedy Frazier, Philip Hamburger, Roger Angell, Andy Logan, Mark Singer, John McPhee, William Maxwell, Daniel Menaker, Lillian Ross, and Brendan Gill.  There are also a number of b&w photos of Shawn taken by James Stevenson.

J.C. Suares: 1942 – 2013

 

images-3Suares:Nyer cover

Jean-Claude Suares, who died this past July 30, in Englewood, New Jersey, is best known for his work apart from The New Yorker (see the various links below that cover his life and career), but I will always happily associate his name with the one and only New Yorker cover he did (it appeared September 23, 1974).  I remember Mr. Suares’  cover not so much  as it appeared on the New Yorker, but as the book cover for the 1984 exhibit, Seasons at The New Yorker: Six Decades of Cover Art, produced in conjunction with the National Academy of Art.

 

Walking up Fifth Avenue on the way to my first gallery opening as a New Yorker contributor, I neared the entrance to The National Academy, and spotted Brendan Gill out on the sidewalk with a few other gallery-goers. Dressed in suit and tie, and holding a glass of champagne, he was merrily laughing along with his friends.   It was a scene seemingly ripped right out of a William Hamilton New Yorker cartoon. Mr. Suares’ cover will always  encapsulate, for me, New York City and The New Yorker  on a most memorable day.

 

Link to Steven Heller’s “Memories of JC (Jean-Claude Suares)” from Print, August 8, 2013.

Link to Steven Heller’s August 5, 2013 New York Times obit, “Jean-Claude Suares, 71, a Daring  Times Op-Ed Artist”

Link to the North Jersey. com obit, “Jean Claude Suares of Harrington Park, illustrator and graphic designer, dies at 71”

Link to Mr. Suares’ website.

Author’s Progress Report: Thomas Vinciguerra on his Cast of Characters: Wolcott Gibbs, E.B. White, James Thurber, and the Golden Age of the New Yorker

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(above: foreground: Fritz Foord, Wolcott Gibbs, Frank Case (owner of the Algonquin Hotel) and Dorothy Parker. Standing, left to right: Alan Campbell, St. Clair McKelway, Russell Maloney and James Thurber.

 

An Ink Spill Exclusive:

Wolcott Gibbs and Co. in Upcoming Group Portrait

There’ve been a handful of New Yorker-centered books in recent years that have caused the house lights here to blink in excitement and anticipation.  The Linda Davis biography of Charles Addams, James Stevenson’s lovely book on Frank Modell, and Deirde Bair’s biography of Saul Steinberg.  Now another is added to that short list.  Last August, Publisher’s Weekly announced that W.W. Norton would be publishing Cast of Characters: Wolcott Gibbs, E.B. White, James Thurber and the Golden Age of The New Yorker, by Thomas Vinciguerra in the spring of 2015, coinciding with the magazine’s 90th anniversary. Since then, little has been heard from Vinciguerra. But some delicate arm-twisting elicited an update and overview from the harried author.

 

“After months of plowing through The New Yorker records at the main branch of the New York Public Library, I can safely say that I should be able to wrap up my primary digging there by the end of the summer,” Vinciguerra says. “I’ll soon be off to a few other archival collections and conducting some interviews. But happily, I’ve been working on this book in one form or another for so long that much of my research is already done.”

Thereby hangs a tale. In the fall of 2005 Vinciguerra began investigating the life of Gibbs (1902-1958), who in more than 30 years at The New Yorker contributed countless comic sketches, parodies, profiles, short stories, “Talk” and “Comment” pieces and, notably, a pungent theatre column for approximately two decades. “I was appalled that this incredibly productive, versatile, indispensable contributor had been largely forgotten to history,” he recalls. “But for five years, nobody wanted a biography about him. Their attitude was, ‘Wolcott Gibbs? Who’s he?’ Then, in 2010 I got lucky. Bloomsbury had published A Reporter at Wit’s End, a collection of the journalism of Gibbs’s colleague and friend St. Clair McKelway, and I found they were looking to do a follow-up. So in 2011 they came out with my anthology Backward Ran Sentences: The Best of Wolcott Gibbs From The New Yorker.

Backward Ran Sentences (its title derives from the famous 1936 Gibbs profile of Henry Luce, which spoofed many aspects of Time magazine, notably its weirdly inverted narrative structure) was a minor success and reawakened some interest in Gibbs. Jonathan Yardley of The Washington Post named it one of his best books of the year and even Time declaimed puckishly, “Forward run to this Wolcott Gibbs anthology.” Still, there was no interest in a full-length account of Gibbs’s life.

“Finally,” says Vinciguerra, “I got in touch with my old friend John Glusman, editor-in-chief at Norton. He suggested a book about Gibbs and his circle, shamelessly playing up The New Yorker angle and such giants as White and Thurber, to elicit as much interest as possible. Proceeding from the principle that half a loaf is better than you know what, I gratefully accepted.”

The volume will be neither a history of The New Yorker nor a conventional biography, but rather a group portrait of a certain collection of writers, editors, artists, entertainers and other personalities placed against the backdrop of the magazine, with Gibbs as a focal point. “The best comparison I can make is to Poets in Their Youth,” Vinciguerra says, “in which Eileen Simpson chronicled the lives and times of a whole bunch of interconnected persons—Robert Lowell, Jean Stafford, R.P. Blackmur, Delmore Schwartz, Randall Jarrell—with her husband, John Berryman, as a connecting link.”

It’s an unconventional approach, and Vinciguerra is finding that he has his work cut out for him. “This is unlike anything I’ve done before,” says the author, a founding editor of The Week magazine and a contributor to various sections of The New York Times for almost 20 years. “And I’m afraid that I’m going to disappoint some people. When Brendan Gill came out with a new edition of Here at The New Yorker, he explained that the book wasn’t an official account of life at the magazine; it was an account of his life at the magazine. Similarly, Cast of Characters will concern itself almost exclusively with Gibbs and the people who were part of his orbit.

“Fortunately, Gibbs wasn’t merely a writer but a major New Yorker editor as well. And unlike White and Thurber, with whom he was always mentioned in the same breath, he never formally left the staff. So he was absolutely an ongoing, sometimes omniscient, presence. At the same time, there were many big names that weren’t in his crowd. You’re not really going to see anything here about folks like Joe Mitchell, Jean Stafford, Dorothy Parker, Richard Rovere, Saul Steinberg, or S.J. Perelman. A.J. Liebling, Robert Benchley and Peter Arno, among others, will enter only fleetingly.

“At the same time, there will be new information about hitherto elusive figures who Gibbs did interact with, like St. Clair McKelway, Russell Maloney, Gus Lobrano, John Mosher, Hobie Weekes, and Freddie Packard. It goes without saying that along with White and Thurber, Harold Ross and Katharine White will loom large. So, too, will Gibbs’s close friends Charles Addams and John O’Hara, and his literary enemy Alexander Woollcott. And I’m paying special attention to the two worlds that Gibbs really made his own—Broadway and Fire Island.

“I’m tempted to spill even more, but I do have a deadline.”

 

Some links of interest:

From newyorker.com, October 11, 2011, an interview with Jon Michaud of The New Yorker: “Q&A: Thomas Vinciguerra on Wolcott Gibbs”

From The Committee Room, December 12, 2012, this interview:  “TCR Recommends — “Backward Ran Sentences: The Best of Wolcott Gibbs by Thomas Vinciguerra”

From The Washington Post, December 9, 2011, “Year-end Picks”

From Time, October 25, 2011, “Backward Ran Sentences: The Best of Wolcott Gibbs from The New Yorker”

And…

Mr. Vinciguerra has been kind enough to pass along to this address examples of some of the treasure he has discovered while digging through the New Yorker’s archives in the New York Public Library.  From what I’ve been seeing, there is no doubt “Cast of Characters” will be in a league with “Genius in Disguise”  Thomas Kunkel’s spectacular biography of Harold Ross.  Come 2015, we are in for a treat.

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Birthday, Mr. Roth

Philip Roth, who celebrates his 80th birthday today, was first published in The New Yorker the issue of March 14, 1959, with his story, “Defender of the Faith” causing an immediate stir (see the upcoming PBS American Masters profile “Philip Roth: Unmasked”  for, among so many other things,  Mr. Roth’s recollection of buying, opening up, reading and rereading his story in this particular issue — jokingly(?) saying he even read it “upside down”).

 

The issue featured a cover by the wonderful Abe Birnbaum, who contributed nine cartoons and nearly a hundred and fifty covers to The New Yorker.  His New York Times obit (June 20, 1966) contains this quote by Mr. Birnbaum: “Nothing is ugly. Everything is what it is.”

 

Brendan Gill reprinted the robin cover in his book,  Here At The New Yorker, writing of it:

 

“Nobody was satisfied with the ‘rough’ of this giant robin as it was first seen at the weekly art meeting. At the time, the background consisted merely of landscape. Geraghty [the New Yorker’s Art Editor from 1939 thru 1973] suggested the addition of birdwatchers. That simple change changed everything.”

 

When Philip Roth read, reread, and read his first New Yorker story upside down, he ran across cartoons by the following cartoonists — a roster that’s just about as good a snapshot of The New Yorker cartoon universe late 1950s as any:

William O’Brian, Frank Modell, Robert Kraus, Saul Steinberg, Everett Opie, Barney Tobey, William Steig, Ed Fisher, Robert Day (whose cartoon appeared on the first page of Roth’s story), James Stevenson, Otto Soglow, Syd Hoff, Whitney Darrow, Jr., Charles Saxon, Anatol Kovarsky, Dana Fradon, Eldon Dedini,  and Lee Lorenz