TALK STORIES by Lillian Ross
Kirkus Star


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All of the Talk Stories in this collection first appeared in The New Yorker between 1958 and 1965. They are among the best of these demoniacally simple we-asked-he-said interviews for which Lillian Ross is noted. She visits the newly integrated P.S. 77, while sixth graders are being prepared to participate in the annual Park-Fete program: ""there will be thirteen thousand children dancing around hundreds of Maypoles on green lawns in the five boroughs."" She chats with the faculty involved, with Al Matheson (""he's the one who gets the boys to dance""), with Mr. Feld, (""we have ten classes of aphasic children here from the School for the Deaf. They all dance""), and with Mrs. Eisenson (""I see some of the kids I work with. I'm getting a different view of them. They are very graceful""). She gets from the twenty eight year old Lorraine Hansberry a bitterness about which only her best friends knew: ""My father was a wonderful and very special kind of man. He died in 1945, at the age of fifty one of a cerebral hemorrhage, supposedly, but American racism helped kill him... I mostly went to Jim Crow's school on the South Side of Chicago, which meant half day sessions. And to this day I can't count."" There is a pure dialogue piece of the entire case of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf recorded at the home of Uta Hagen. Arthur Hill comments ""Altman's is a great place. No matter what happens, they take it back."" She visits Edward Albee twice before and after his success, Adlai Stevenson, Zero Mostel, Margaret Rutherford, Henny Youngman, Dag Hammarskjold, Dion Charlie Rapp who takes entertainment orders for the borscht circuit, and finally Robert Kennedy who had a deodorized skunk that got lost between Hyannisport and Washington. Lillian Ross, on the other hand, never loses anything and she is surpassed by no one in the art of eliciting essence. As Charlie Rapp would say, Beautiful, Beautiful.

Pub Date: April 29th, 1965
Publisher: Simon & Schuster