ABOUT THE NEW YORKER AND ME: A Sentimental Journal by

ABOUT THE NEW YORKER AND ME: A Sentimental Journal

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KIRKUS REVIEW

To borrow from one of the potshots it takes at Brendan Gill's Here at The New Yorker, E. J. Kahn's 1977 journal could be styled a ""supposedly non-fictional"" memoir. The year marks the fortieth anniversaries of his graduation from Harvard (where he's enough of a Class wheel to out-Ivy Yalie Gill) and of his affiliation with The New Yorker, which is not really Kahn's subject here; he is. He takes each day as it comes--who, what, and where--and fits in his past history as he goes along; it's not a felicitous formula. Kahn has to grandstand to make his personal buzz heard in the commonplaces of taking a stepson to a movie or a grandson to the beach; and he has to stretch further even the day's (frequent) obituary notice to plug in some of the old stories--e.g., after taking his sisters to the Comden and Green show, ""I must ask Adolph some time, incidentally, if he remembers when I was co-host at his wedding reception."" The details of course follow: Kahn picks up every name he drops; he racks up luminaries faster than he racks up points at backgammon (lunch-time, the Harvard Club) or tennis (Friday mornings downtown, summers on his own court in Truro, Cape Cod). Kahn, who calls himself a ""generalist"" and a ""humorist,"" is a word-tease at large in his journal because The New Yorker, he says, ""frowns"" on puns, and so--covering a 1939 tennis match in shy infatuation--he's the man ""who's afraid of Virginia Wolfenden."" And another kind of tease: he repeatedly mentions but never identifies the ""N."" whom he places between his two wives, Jinny and Ellie (she plays tennis Sundays, with John Chancellor). Kahn spends more of 1977 than some will want to share doing research for an article about Georgia; enviably, however, he usually writes about places he's anxious go to, thanks in part to editor Shawn--about whose successor everybody gossips. Reminiscing, he gossips about everybody else, if not enough about anybody to upstage himself.

Pub Date: April 26th, 1979
Publisher: Putnam