In this fascinating and beautiful memoir, renowned writer Lillian Ross tells the remarkable love story of the passionate life she shared for more than 40 years with William Shawn, "The New Yorker's" famous editor. Photos.In this fascinating and beautiful memoir, renowned writer Lillian Ross tells the remarkable love story of the passionate life she shared for more than 40 years with William Shawn, "The New Yorker's" famous editor. Photos.Read Less
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Publishers Weekly, 1998-05-04 Appearing almost simultaneously with Ved Mehta's Mr. Shawn's New Yorker (Forecasts, April 6), Ross's memoir of William Shawn, who was her lover from 1952 until his death in 1992, shows us, with mixed results, the private side of the talented, self-effacing New Yorker editor. Like Mehta's book, this one flirts with hagiography, but here we see Shawn away from his desk?and outside the marriage that he maintained throughout his and Ross's affair. The author depicts him as a passionate lover, a devoted, unofficial father to her adopted son and a deeply ambivalent editor who called his vocation a "big mistake," his professional life "the ultimate cell." Unfortunately, New Yorker writer Ross (Takes) fails to bring these personae?romancer, father, literary midwife?into focus, and she continually stresses the bliss of the relationship rather than its (probably more interesting) complications. Despite the book's title, Shawn's persistent complaint that he was?whether at home or at the magazine?"here but not here," seems never to cast a shadow on his time with Ross, which she describes in almost impossibly sunny terms. When she mentions her guilt about the affair, she is quick to bury it in a résumé of personal and professional triumphs, achieved in company with luminaries as varied as A.J. Liebling, Charlie Chaplin and Robin Williams. Ross succeeds best in giving us a glimpse of Shawn's private, romantic ideals?of both his work and his affair with her ("Our time together defied death," he told her). Some readers will balk at Ross's repeating these cris de coeur for public consumption; the rest will probably wish for a less romanticized account of this love story. Photos. (June)
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