Book 22 of 52: A Selection of Pieces from The New Yorker, The Talk of the Town

Book 22 is a bit of a mystery. I’m not even sure you’d call it a book — it’s more a pamphlet. But it’s my blog, and I can do what I want. So book 22 it is.

Before I reviewed books and got said books directly from publishers, I was a big fan of library book sales (I still am, but don’t buy nearly as many). Sold! I love roaming the stacks of what other people give away, from old worn encyclopedias to paperbacks bearing Fabio covers. I always got a kick of finding notes written on the inside covers or letters tucked in the books I bought, even if I never ended up reading the books. Plus, you couldn’t beat the prices. Quarter for a book? Sold!

I picked this pamphlet up at the Haddonfield Library Book Sale last year. I forgot I had it until I reorganized my books…er, organized my books for the first time since I moved into my house. I’m proud to say that I’ve read everything in the collection save two items, and this pamphlet was one of them.

I’m not sure where this pamphlet came from, or why it was printed, so if you have any insights, would you let us know? It’s a collection of “Talk of the Town” pieces from The New Yorker. The back says “The New Yorker Education Program,” and the pieces inside are from 1954, 1957, 1961, 1964, 1965, 1974, 1985, 1986 and 1987. It must have been printed sometime before 1998 because all the articles are written in the royal “we” as opposed to “I,” and none have bylines (for an explanation of that, check out this delightful piece from the New York Times). The introduction defends that royal we, too.

I could go on with the description, but I think a picture of the front and back will suffice.

I like The New Yorker. Those Talk of the Town pieces are always fun to read. But my problem of late has been what many people have with The New Yorker: who has time to read an issue from cover to cover? While I was putting together my book this summer, I was so discouraged by the stack of unread New Yorkers (and New Yorks for that matter) on my dining room table that I didn’t renew my subscription. I didn’t need those clever covers staring me in the face and reminding me that I had time management issues.

This little pamphlet was enough to make me want to renew and try to squeeze New Yorker time into my schedule. It treated me to essays about a tattoo artist, the marketing master behind Hasbro (describing the then-new toys that I played with as a kid), and a wonderful piece about my man Sid Mark, whose Sundays with Sinatra are the soundtrack to my Sunday mornings.

Since there were so few articles, I studied them from a writer’s point of view as well. I’ve been struggling with my essays, and one editor instructed me to get back into the Talk of the Town habit. What did those writers do to create interesting profile pieces?? Details I thought would be unnecessary made those essays work (one example: “Our host for the afternoon was Dr. George Ruggieri, S.J., a scholarly, ebullient biologist of sixty-one, with gray hair and a permanent” — permanent tan is a perfect detail).

I’m glad I picked this one up at the library book sale, and that found it while I was cleaning up my book collection. Now if I can schedule myself better, I’ll be all set.

While I’m in the picture sharing mood, check this out:

Yesterday, I spoke on a panel for the Jersey Shore Public Relations and Advertising Association, and, yes, I took my name sign home. I think I’ll put it on my office to remind me in those times that I’m struggling with an article that I wrote a book. It’s the little things. Really.

The next few books to be featured here are being read as research for another round up article, much like that self help article I wrote for the Philadelphia Inquirer. This article’s topic: dating books for guys. FUN! Stay tuned to follow along with the hilarity.

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Jen Miller

Jen Miller

Jen A. Miller is a an author and freelance writer. Her memoir, Running a Love Story, was a Philadelphia Inquirer best book of the year. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, SELF, Buzzfeed and the Guardian, among others.

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