In 1944, Roger Angell sold a short story to The New Yorker. He was, perhaps, an outsider’s idea of an insider—his mother, the editor Katharine White, worked at the magazine. What followed, a career at The New Yorker2020欧洲杯最新战况 now in its eighth decade, has spanned a range of roles and genres that would have seemed inconceivable in 1944, some of them because they did not exist until Angell invented them. He soon abandoned writing fiction for editing it, joining the fiction department in 1956. Six years later, after a suggestion from William Shawn, Angell headed to Sarasota for baseball’s spring training; since then, his writing about the sport has been the standard by which others are measured. In 2014, the National Baseball Hall of Fame gave him the J. G. Taylor Spink Award, its highest honor for writers. At Cooperstown, he went in with Joe Torre, his longtime source and friend.

For many years, Angell was known outside The New Yorker mostly as a baseball writer. In the late nineties, with the encouragement of first Tina Brown and then David Remnick, he began to write about himself—tangentially, at least. His essays about Martinis, divorce, and the Second World War were piercing and lively, funny and occasionally just very deeply sad. He had been known as a great baseball writer—now it was clear that he was a great writer. In 2014, Angell published a piece called “This Old Man,” an account of the mixed blessings of old age. At ninety-three, he went viral.

Angell is now ninety-nine, and it is tempting to view him as a keeper of institutional memory, a plaque on the wall reading “This was The New Yorker.” And, indeed, he can tell anecdotes about writers and editors from all eras of the magazine. But he’s more likely to say, “I learned something truly amazing today!” For the Anniversary Issue, I visited him at the apartment he shares with his wife, Peggy Moorman, to talk about his life at the magazine.

When you were growing up, and your mother, Katharine White, was working at The New Yorker, would you go into the office?

2020欧洲杯最新战况Now and then. I’d visit her and we’d often go out for lunch at speakeasies—what you’d think of now as an Italian restaurant—because there was better food. There was one near the office called Mino’s, where we used to sometimes have lunch.

So when did you first start seeing people from the magazine?

My mother became an editor a few months after the magazine started. I was five years old. After my parents were divorced, and my mother married E. B. (Andy) White, I saw her on frequent long weekends and long vacations. The conversation would be about Harold Ross and The New Yorker2020欧洲杯最新战况, and I was an avid listener.

2020欧洲杯最新战况The great thing about Ross, which I figured out over the years, is the amount of power, influence, taste, and judgment he entrusted to women, my mother among them. During the war, he had two foreign correspondents—Mollie Panter-Downes, in London, and Janet Flanner, in France. These were big jobs. And my mother did more and more at the magazine. She became a poetry editor, she became a fiction editor, and, within less than ten years, she was also one of the art editors, sitting in on art meetings.

Ross counted on her for everything. He was nothing like her: he’d not been to college; he had grown up in Aspen, Colorado, and gone straight to the newspapers, and then was the editor of the Stars & Stripes,2020欧洲杯最新战况 in Europe, during the First World War. And he’s reputed to have talked obscenely, but most of these “obscenities” were along the lines of “Oh, my God.”

Do you know how she got the job?

I think that Ross was probably looking for somebody with a little culture. He had male writers that he knew and drank with, and I think he wanted a woman, and he got one. And he really recognized very quickly how good she was, how strong her judgment was. She asserted herself—she was not frightened by Ross in any way.

Do you remember some of the first pieces that you actually read in the magazine?

I can’t remember the pieces; what I did as a kid was memorize the cartoons. There were bound copies of all the back issues in my mother and Andy’s house, in Maine. When I was about thirteen or fourteen I said, “I can give the caption to every drawing that’s ever been in the magazine.” And they said, “Come on, show us.” And I did—I’d memorized every single caption of every cartoon. I didn’t always understand them. There was a beautiful Helen Hokinson drawing of a middle-aged lady at a bookstore booth in Paris saying, “Avez-vous ‘Ulysses’?” because James Joyce’s “Ulysses” was banned in this country.

When did you start writing yourself?

Well, when I was nine, Andy White sent a verse of mine to Franklin P. Adams, whose “Conning Tower” was, at the time, the most important column in the World2020欧洲杯最新战况, a significant daily newspaper. My verse went:

My room is full of banners,
  My bed is full of sheets,
  My father learns me manners,
  And my mother gives me eats.

2020欧洲杯最新战况And that was signed “Roger A., Nine.”

2020欧洲杯最新战况Then in high school, at Pomfret, I tried out for the school newspaper, and one of the first people I interviewed was Benny Goodman. I was fourteen or fifteen, and I went to the Madhattan Room, at the Hotel Pennsylvania, where he was playing, and one of the people there was S. J. Perelman, a young humor writer my mother knew, and he knew Benny Goodman.

I asked Benny Goodman if I could interview him, and he said, “Come to my hotel room tomorrow, at one in the afternoon.” So I went up at one and rang his bell and rang it and rang it, and then he came to the door wearing his jockey shorts and his eyeglasses, very sleepy. I’d woken him up. My lede on the story was “Great bandleaders get to sleep late.”

2020欧洲杯最新战况And a couple of years later—or maybe later that year—a friend and I went down to City Hall to visit Fiorello LaGuardia, on our own, and said, “Can we interview the mayor?” And they said, “Sure, that’d be O.K., sit there.” And we sat all day outside his office, and people came and went, and they brought us food, and then, in the end, we got in. And I noted that LaGuardia was so short that when he sat in his mayoral chair, his feet didn’t touch the ground. We had prepared a good question: “Do you think that any kids in New York public schools can get an education as good as we’re getting at private school?” And he went off like a rocket! He began yelling and carrying on, and then he stopped and looked . . . and he said, “You got me.”

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So you go to Harvard, you come out and it’s wartime, and you immediately go into the service?

2020欧洲杯最新战况I was a senior when Pearl Harbor came along, and during Christmas break I was told there was an opening in Navy public relations for a young ensign. But you had to pass a physical. I said, “I wear eyeglasses,” and they said, “Well, you have to pass the eye test.” So I walk into this gigantic armory wearing my Harvard tweeds and loafers, and there are about a thousand naked men in there, going into the Navy. Everybody looks at me with hatred. I’m getting nervous, because I couldn’t see very well. There was a little strip about twenty feet away on the wall with the 20/20-vision thing. And they take away my glasses, I cover my better eye, and they say, “Walk up until you can read this.” So I creep up—to increasing laughter—until I’m about a foot away, and then I read it. And the guy says, “Do you want do to the other eye?” And I said, “No, no, let’s not.” So I’m turned down by the Navy.

And then what?

In June I got drafted and went into the Army. I was sent to Atlantic City, where we were all stuck in hotels. We were in training, but they had no weapons—they were not ready for this. We’d march four miles out of town to a field and do calisthenics and then fall in and march back again. And that was about it, except for some terrible, terrifying sex education, showing pictures of people with active venereal disease.

2020欧洲杯最新战况I was now in the Army Air Corps. We were put on a troop train, an old train with Pullman cars, that began slowly going west. They would not tell you where you were going. I remember getting out at Kansas City and doing calisthenics, on the platform, and then we woke up one morning and our car was sitting on a railroad siding in view of some mountains, and we had no idea where we were. We were outside Denver. It turned out that we were going to be trained for thirteen weeks as aircraft-armament specialists—bombs, power turrets, machine guns. Eventually I got picked to be an instructor in armament school. Shifts were eight hours, non-stop, around the clock.

I began writing some short fiction pieces, which The New Yorker bought. You could write very short stuff back then, because there were three pieces of fiction in every issue. In those days, you read the Talk of the Town and the next thing was a piece of fiction—that was the A story. And there’d be another piece of fiction in the front of the magazine, B fiction, then C, in the back, very short. That’s where I started. One of the first stories I sold was a piece of B fiction called “A Killing,” which is about a hairbrush salesman calling at an apartment where two drunken women lived. And he’s talking to them, and one asks his name, and his name is Schumacher, and the woman in the back says, “Prince Hal, Prince Hal,” taking him for Hal Schumacher, the No. 2 pitcher for the New York Giants. And she buys a lot of brushes from this guy, with the impression that he’s the Giants pitcher.

Then you went to the Pacific.

I went to the Pacific to help take over a G.I. magazine, which was based in the Central Pacific, on the recommendation of The New Yorker2020欧洲杯最新战况 writer and reporter St. Clair McKelway. The editor of our magazine was a former newspaper man named Clive Howard. I was the managing editor, and there was an art director and a photography director.

We took over this magazine, which we named Brief, and made it look very much like Life magazine, a photo cover with the Seventh Air Force logo. And I did that for the rest of the war and loved it, worked hard, wrote a lot. And we put out a really pretty good product.

“Every single writer in the world needs an editor, or more than one,” Angell says.Photograph by Brigitte Lacombe for The New Yorker

What were you writing?

2020欧洲杯最新战况I wrote a weekly column called “File 13,” which was very cynical G.I. writing. I did some reporting. One of the pieces I reported was this extraordinary story that took place before the invasion of Iwo Jima. Iwo Jima was a little Japanese-held volcanic island that we were bombing with B-24s, one at a time. One of these B-24s, which were four-engine planes, was over Iwo Jima when it was hit simultaneously with a fighter plane, machine guns, and flak.

The top turret is completely knocked off, and two of the engines were knocked out: there were several huge holes in the plane. The co-pilot was severely wounded and they take him out of the cockpit, and he’s lying on the by now freezing flight deck. And then they realize this plane is falling through the air and has to get back—a five-hour flight, I think, to one of the Marianas—to land safely. So they throw out the machine guns, everything they can move, to lighten the load.

2020欧洲杯最新战况And what happens along the way, very quickly, is that the pilot loses his nerve and cannot fly anymore. He just says, “I can’t do it.” Terrible terror overcomes him. So the plane is flown half the distance by one of the gunners, who was a washed-out aviation cadet who’d done a little bit of flying in training. (Military censors in the Pacific would not permit this part of the account to be included in my story.) He takes over the controls and one of the other engines keeps running away—revving up out of control—and they have to control it by changing the feathering of the thing. So they have maybe only one sound engine. And they fly this whole distance and land almost after dark, but when they try to put down the landing gear, only one wheel comes down, and they have no brakes because the hydraulic system has seized. They had rigged parachutes to the gun mounts, which they popped and used as brakes when the plane touched down. So the plane slides the whole length of this runway and up on an abutment and breaks in half. All eleven guys survive, all eleven get Purple Hearts.

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I wrote this for Brief and then I wrote it for The New Yorker. I’d interviewed these guys in the hospital, and I remember talking to one of them and saying, “What happened when the No. 3 engine kept running away?” And he turned pale and he said, “It did?” They didn’t know. So that was my first New Yorker piece of reporting.

And then the war ends. I’m in Hawaii, waiting to come home. Brief actually made some money—a couple thousand dollars—so we had two or three fabulous parties and drank up all the proceeds. I was called just before Christmas and came home on the carrier Saratoga.

And when you got out, when you were demobilized, did you have an idea of what you’d do next?

I wanted to be in publishing. And the job I got was with Curtis Publishing, publishers of the Saturday Evening Post and the Ladies’ Home Journal—the No. 1 publisher in the country, bigger than Time Life—in Philadelphia. And their plan was to start a new weekly picture magazine, to compete with Life—full blast, a major expenditure—called Magazine X.

The first week with Magazine X, they tell me to go down to Philadelphia, they’ve got a special job for me. So I go down, and they’ve started a house organ they want published right away for reasons they’re not quite clear about. So they put together a rough house organ, and I looked it over and what they were doing was copyrighting the name of the future picture magazine. Want to know the name?

Yes.

People. I was the first editor of People magazine. We brought out two or three dummy issues of Magazine X over a year and a half, and the whole thing was so expensive, it got into the millions of dollars to be able to publish anything. They called it off. Meantime, they had started Holiday magazine, a new monthly travel magazine, and it wasn’t doing well. So they took the editor of Magazine X, a brilliant guy named Ted Patrick, and I think four others of us, and we went over and joined the staff of Holiday2020欧洲杯最新战况, and I worked there for ten years, very happily.

And you were still writing fiction?

I was still writing fiction. I got stories in Best American Short Stories, stuff like that, but it started to dawn on me that I didn’t have anything to say. It needed to be a novel, and it was not a novel. I mean, I knew that.

What do you mean you didn’t have anything to say?

Well, I had nothing—I had no novel in mind. I could not think bigger than these stories. I’m proud of some of them, I published a book, and a couple of them are pretty good stories. I stopped writing fiction because I realized that I was not going to be the next great novelist.

And was that disappointing?

Well, working on Holiday was a joy. I was in the New York office, and each Wednesday I took a morning train to Philadelphia and returned on Thursday night. I had dinner with Ted Patrick every Wednesday night. He was an alcoholic—I’d put him to bed, and then in the morning he would get up and play two sets of tennis. The great part about Holiday was the art director, Frank Zachary; he was a great, great, great art director. Frank was six years older than I was and the son of a Pittsburgh steelworker, I think. Every little thing he did was out in the open in the layout room. And he would let anybody come in and say, “What do you think of this? What do you think of this?” He sort of took me in. I have a strong visual side, and we would look at this stuff together. And we became close, close friends. He was my best man when Carol, my second wife, and I got married.

I didn’t have any great wish to be with The New Yorker2020欧洲杯最新战况, but my mother was living in Maine and finally decided she was going to retire. And, in 1956, William Shawn made me an offer to come be both a fiction and a fact editor. I was in for the first time. I didn’t know if I could do it.

What had been your contact with Shawn before that?

Very little—I didn’t really know him. He didn’t tell me much. I remember he said one thing, almost the first day. He said, “It’s no great trick to take a great piece of fiction and turn it into the best story ever written, but anybody can do that. The hard thing is to make it into the best story this writer can write.” You have to edit with this writer and help this writer make his piece as good as it can be. That’s the thing, not have some idea of what it should be.

That nonfiction part, by the way, lasted about two weeks.

Why?

I don’t know. It just never came up, he never gave me a piece of nonfiction to edit.

What do you remember about your first days at the office?

2020欧洲杯最新战况Well, I was given a little office near William Maxwell, one of the fiction editors. And he gave me some very minor pieces of fiction to edit. There were other colleagues in the department—Bob Henderson, Carroll Newman, Rachel MacKenzie a little later.

There were first readers who would winnow out this huge batch of stuff: “Take a look at this, take a look at this, take a look at this.” And I found a few writers after a while. And I said, “Let’s try to get these people published,” and got in touch with them, began the process of learning how to edit fiction, which, as you know, is mysterious and misunderstood.

What do you think is misunderstood about it?

I think that most people think that what editors do is take something that’s really good and try to turn it into a New Yorker story. Back in the thirties and forties, a New Yorker story was a little ironic story with the ending missing—they cut off the ending. And this was because older conventional fiction always had a wrap-up of some kind. But the stories that appeared in The New Yorker quickly grew out of that brusque, ironic tendency. So now I don’t know what is meant by a New Yorker story.

2020欧洲杯最新战况Editing is mostly a process of taking stuff that’s pretty good—or maybe terrific or potentially terrific—and working with the author over problems that come up: problems of tone, problems of clarity, problems of length, problems of one part fitting with another. Why has it suddenly gotten so much bigger here? What this person is saying doesn’t seem to match what she said when we first met her. Something’s happened, there’s a sag here, the energy’s gone out of the story—whatever, there are thousands of things. And young writers were terrified of this—they thought you were ruining their lives. But all writers come to absolutely depend on it. All of us, everywhere, need an editor—every single writer in the world needs an editor, or more than one.

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And when something came in that you had cultivated, you would take it to Shawn?

Sure. Three or four other editors would write up their opinions of it, very short. And then we would ask Shawn. He was very open and excited by new writers, a wonderful fiction editor with an intense interest in fiction. And when a new writer came along, whom we hadn’t seen before, he would be really interested.

When you arrived at the magazine, was James Thurber still there?

Yes. Thurber was interesting, because I knew him from my childhood; he’d been an early intimate friend of my stepfather, Andy White. They wrote a funny book together, “” And I played Ping-Pong with him when he was young, when he was wild and crazy and flying around with long hair, drinking. Andy White was the one who saved his drawings—Thurber used to draw things and throw them away, and Andy kept the drawings and eventually began submitting them to the magazine.

2020欧洲杯最新战况I had a lifelong relationship with Thurber, and ended up as his editor. He wrote “,” which is a great book. But he was later obsessed with fame, and when he got much older, I was the humor editor, and I was rejecting him over and over. He never stopped writing, and I’d have to say, “Sorry, Jim, this isn’t good enough.” This happens a lot with older writers, and it’s heartbreaking, it is heartbreaking. People stop being as good as they were, and they stop getting published, and they can’t believe it. It’s a very painful thing all around.

How about Joseph Mitchell?

The thing about Joe Mitchell is that he knew everything. No subject escaped him, from James Joyce to horse breeding, backcountry life, culture. A. J. Liebling, his close friend and colleague, resented this. So one day Liebling is wandering around Sixth Avenue—it still had the elevated track—and there was a little taxidermy shop under the subway, and he goes in and finds a little set of bones. The owner says, “These are very interesting. They’re the bones of a young male opossum, which has a bone in its penis.” Liebling buys this collection of bones for six dollars and brings it over to the office wrapped up in a paper bag. Mitchell is typing. Liebling knocks on the door, comes in, unwraps the package, and puts it on the table. Mitchell looks at it and says, “Pecker bone of a young male opossum—anything you want to know about that?”

Did different writers need different editing styles?

There are wonderful writers who need a lot of line-to-line editing and other writers for whom you barely have to change a semicolon. And in the latter group I would single out William Trevor. We didn’t always take his stories, but when we took them, they were just about perfect, you didn’t need to do anything. And he would constantly say, “Well, I rely on you, Roger. I really rely on you. Tell me, tell me. I really rely on you.” And we would have changed four lines.

2020欧洲杯最新战况A lot of it, in my view, is about the difficulty of writing, of writing well, of doing something which is such a lonely process. You sit there and you have to do it by yourself, so if somebody comes along who is intensely interested in what you’ve done, you seize on them to break the loneliness. In time, writers learn that good fiction editors care as much about the story as the writer does, or almost, anyway. And you really often end up, the three of you—the writer, and the editor, and the story—working on this obdurate, beautiful thing, this brand-new creation. And the editor is not telling the writer, “Do this, do that.” It’s “Maybe if we did this,” or “I see what you mean, but now what?”

Angell’s connection to The New Yorker extends back nearly to the magazine’s founding.Photograph by Brigitte Lacombe for The New Yorker

Partly because you taught me, this accords exactly with my experience.

2020欧洲杯最新战况We’re sort of rare creatures, fiction editors. And no two fiction editors are the same. William Maxwell and I worked together for years and we were exactly the opposite. And I edited him and he edited me. He was a keeper-inner: he kept everything, every line, practically, had to get in there. And I was a taker-outer: it’s better without this—how about you go from here to page 3? And we talked about this in later years and said how much we admired each other, but how strange the difference was between us.

It seems like there was a time in the sixties or seventies when there was a big turnover in New Yorker fiction.

2020欧洲杯最新战况They instituted a mandatory retirement age, and suddenly all the older editors, everyone over sixty-five, were fired in one fell swoop. Maxwell and Henderson disappeared. Of course, it didn’t apply to Shawn. And suddenly I’m the oldest fiction editor. Chip McGrath and Dan Menaker were there, and then Veronica Geng came in, and we had a much younger fiction department, which was a lot of fun. Chip came into office with inline roller skates, and there was a squash ladder in the fiction department, and fiction editors back then didn’t also edit fact pieces, so it was just fiction.

When Ann Beattie arrived, she was maybe in her mid-twenties, living with a young husband somewhere in Connecticut and writing about young people drinking, smoking dope, having disorganized contemporary lives, different from what we knew of before. We turned down her first seventeen stories, I think. But there was something new there, and we kept saying, “Keep going, keep going, keep going.” She was very productive and wrote a lot.

And were you her editor?

2020欧洲杯最新战况I guess I was the first one to be her editor, encourager. But I’d seen my mother doing this—I’d seen the intimate relationship she had with writers like Jean Stafford or Jerome Weidman. Intensely close relationships with them. But all connected with their work.

Tell me about other new voices.

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2020欧洲杯最新战况When Donald Barthelme arrived, he wrote very smart, glittering casuals. He’d been in the art world—he’d come from Houston, and was deeply immersed in contemporary art. Suddenly these amazing pieces of fiction began to come in, and Shawn was entranced by Barthelme, as I was. Shawn said to me once, “I don’t know what it is, but I know it’s great.” And he and I were the big enthusiasts, while people everywhere, including on the staff, had difficulty in cottoning to Barthelme at first. People were enraged: What is this we’re publishing?

2020欧洲杯最新战况And I don’t mean that I was being a pioneer, I just happened to like him. I had a weird personal connection with him right away, because Carol and I were newly married and we were looking for an apartment. There was an apartment on West Eleventh Street, west of Sixth Avenue, that we liked very much— second-floor, going through to the garden in the back. And we almost took it, but there wasn’t enough room for my two young daughters, who were going to visit us on weekends and other times. So we turned it down. And, by a wild coincidence, Barthelme arrived and rented that same apartment, and lived there for twenty-five years.

Eventually he started submitting longer and longer stories.

2020欧洲杯最新战况He did long, full-scale Barthelme stories, which were amazing. It seems to me that people have almost forgotten him, but he’s like nobody else. And one of the reasons I think he’s gone is that the stories were full of scholarly and artistic references, literary and philosophic references, but also a lot of contemporary references that would make no sense to a lot of younger readers.

2020欧洲杯最新战况It was really thrilling to get these new voices. Barthelme, Beattie, Bobbie Ann Mason, Mary Robison. There was a lot of stuff happening in the country, and they were writing about younger people and new localities and living differently from the way we had lived. There was a sort of a burst of new fiction. I think that happens at different times, often around one writer.

On occasion you’ve offered some theories as to how writers respond to national events—9/11, Vietnam, elections. I think you said there’s something of a delayed effect.

Well, the delayed effect I remember was the Nixon election and humor. We were dying for humor, which was always in short supply. After Nixon got elected there was a pause of about six weeks and then there was a flood of funny stuff. The humor writers were saying, I give up, I give up! And then they began writing.

I want to turn the clock back even further. What do you remember of John O’Hara?

I liked him a lot. I was a big admirer of O’Hara, loved his novel “.” But he was an alcoholic and very abusive and hard, and people hated him. He’d get in fights. Then he stopped and didn’t drink anymore. There was a time when he stopped writing for The New Yorker, he was on strike.

Because of money?

He had said that he wanted a guarantee. Every time he submitted something, he wanted to get a minimum payment, even if we turned it down. And Shawn said, we can’t do that—he could submit a laundry list and we’d owe him money. So he quit. I saw him some time later in Quogue, because a young friend of mine had unexpectedly died, and we were both at the memorial service. He invited me over afterward. He was so funny, he acutely followed fashions, and he had around his waist that sort of triple belt that polo players wear.

I said, “We’d really love to have you back. We miss you a lot.” He’d been out for months. And he said, “Thank you,” and I said, “Could you come back?” And he says, “Well, yes.”

I was thrilled, I was thinking, I’m going to get John O’Hara!

Then he said, “Subject to my conditions.” I said, “What are your conditions?” And he said, “A written apology in the magazine. And the amount of money to be paid to me for the stories I was unable to publish in The New Yorker.”

So that didn’t fly. Later Maxwell met with him and there was some kind of reconciliation.

How did you end up editing V. S. Pritchett?

2020欧洲杯最新战况I think I inherited Pritchett from my mother, who had been his editor. But I loved his stories, and he was at a point where he was writing a lot of fiction. Carol and I were living in a walkup on Ninety-fourth Street and suddenly Pritchett and his wife moved to New York and ended up living right over our heads. They had rented from the upstairs neighbor, Bowden Broadwater, who at one point was married to Mary McCarthy. In the middle of the summer we often heard these very sharp little banging noises on the floor above. It turns out it was Pritchett and his wife, Dorothy, in the heat wave walking around naked with only their shoes on.

2020欧洲杯最新战况Anyway, we really trusted each other and went through a lot of stories together. And he was always so apologetic if we turned something down—“I’m sure you’re right,” he’d say. But we often probably were not right.

Pritchett never went to university. His father was a sort of travelling salesman. He left school and began working as a reporter. For one of his early pieces, he interviewed W. B. Yeats in Dublin. And he rings the bell and Yeats comes down, and he has one shoe on and the other shoe in his hand. He leans on Pritchett’s shoulder and puts the other shoe on. Pritchett told me that this was the kind of detail you want in a piece of fiction, but that doesn’t ring true.

And what were your relations like with John Updike?

Oh, terrific. I think everybody at the magazine, including Shawn, wondered constantly of a certain piece or a certain story, What would John think? What would John say? This endless writing came out of him all the time—a flood of novels, criticism, humor, short stories. He had different typewriters for different things he did during the day.

He would turn up at the office, not very often, this striking-looking guy with a powerful nose and long, smiling, lively face. I always thought he looked like somebody from George Washington’s era. There was something Presidential about him. And he would engage with us and laugh and all—but you could see toward the end of the day that he was a little uncomfortable, because he wanted to be back home writing. When I was editing him, he always wanted to see the last proof. He would have two versions of the same sentence, and on the phone he would say, “Which sounds better? Which sounds better?” I admired him very much. On some significant birthday, we gave him a little party at The New Yorker2020欧洲杯最新战况, and the main gift we gave him was one of those wrapped up reams of typing paper, blank.

I think you’ve said before, he was competitive.

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When we’d not got a piece from him for a while, I would sometimes say, “John, next week we’re publishing a wonderful, wonderful piece of writing by a new young writer I’m really excited about.” Which would be true—some young writer had just appeared—and he would say, “Really, really—well, luck to that!” And about two weeks later, I’d get another story from Updike—cross my heart.

Baseball writing formed a parallel career for you.

In 1962, Shawn decided that The New Yorker needed more sports pieces, and, knowing that I was a fan, asked if I wanted to go down to Florida and write something about spring training. I was surprised he even knew there was such a thing. I’d never been to spring training, so I said yes, thank you, and went down to the White Sox camp, in Sarasota, where I found the little wooden stadium jammed with elderly fans watching the young stars. Later stops at larger parks in St. Petersburg and Tampa confirmed this peaceable view and also offered a first look at the squirming newborn Mets. The piece, “The Old Folks Behind Home,” ran a few weeks later in the magazine, and everybody seemed happy with it. It happened without any plan at all from me. I didn’t see it as a career move, I mean. And the long trail of those pieces and books happened one by one and grew only out of my own pleasure and excitement over the endless complexities and beauties of the game.

Shall we end with the Christmas poem?

Writing the Christmas verse “Greetings, Friends” came to me in 1976, because I’d lately been editing Frank Sullivan, the poem’s originator back in 1932. He was getting on in years and lived up in Saratoga Springs, and he’d begun to run low on the floods of names he needed for each edition. With his urging, I’d begun sending suggestions for this copious roster, along with some couplets of my own. Around the time Frank died, there was a year without a “Greetings, Friends” in the magazine, and then I nervously took over, enlisting everyone on the staff to send me as many names and professions and couplets as they could. I’d start on the thing late in September, working my way agonizingly up to the early December deadline. I’d finish my long World Series wrap-up piece in late October, and had to shift into poesy almost overnight. I remember my wife, Carol, saying to me one night in the dark of our bedroom, “Roger, you’re counting beats again.” I got better at this after a while, but the real credit belongs to the wonderful Frank, whose final couplet for that inaugural verse summed up the whole thing perfectly:

I greet you all, mes petits choux,
I greet the whole goddam Who’s Who.

I wrote the thing for years, and then handed it over to my remarkable colleague, Sandy Frazier, who has now brilliantly made it his own. We compare notes now and then, and he tells me that it’s a high-anxiety job, but a great kick when it’s done—exactly the way I felt, in my day.