Roger Angell, the acclaimed New Yorker writer and editor, returns with a selection of writings that celebrate a view from the tenth decade of an engaged, vibrant life.
Long known for his range and supple prose (he is the only writer elected to membership in both the Baseball Hall of Fame and the American Academy of Arts and Letters), Angell won the 2015 American Society of Magazine Editors’ Best Essay award for “This Old Man,” which forms a centerpiece for this book. This deeply personal account is a survey of the limitations and discoveries of great age, with abundant life, poignant loss, jokes, retrieved moments, and fresh love, set down in an informal and moving fashion. A flood of readers from different generations have discovered and shared this classic piece.
Angell’s fluid prose and native curiosity make him an amiable and compelling companion on the page. The book gathers essays, letters, light verse, book reviews, Talk of the Town stories, farewells, haikus, Profiles, Christmas greetings, late thoughts on the costs of war. Whether it’s a Fourth of July in rural Maine, a beloved British author at work, Derek Jeter’s departure, the final game of the 2014 World Series, an all-dog opera, editorial exchanges with John Updike, or a letter to a son, what links the pieces is the author’s perceptions and humor, his utter absence of self-pity, and his appreciation of friends and colleagues—writers, ballplayers, editors, artists—encountered over the course of a full and generous life.
The latest collection of writings from New Yorker fiction editor Angell is anchored by his much-lauded rumination on aging, "This Old Man." At 94, Angell is a witness to history but hardly a relic of the past. He always seems to know when to drop a reference to Harry Potter or David "Big Papi" Ortiz. The book is filled with many of Angell's timeless subjects: baseball; aging; his stepfather, E.B. White; and life inside the publication that has dominated his life. Just as he is adept at changing subjects, so is he at changing forms, including a little bit of everything in this collection he calls the resulting mixture a dog's breakfast. Angell is equally at ease writing annual Christmas poems, witty internal memos, letters, haiku, speeches, literary essays, and "casuals." His tribute to John Updike, with whom he worked for decades, is a touching portrait of the man as both friend and literary legend. Having written for the New Yorker since 1944, during the tenure of its founder, Harold Ross, Angell can write about it with a true sense of the magazine's history. There is a reason why nostalgia feels so comforting and Angell represents the best sort of writing about the remembrance of things past.