The Receptionist

An Education at "The New Yorker"

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Pub Date 26 Jun 2012 | Archive Date 01 Sep 2012

Description

The year is 1957. A shy E. B. White peers across his desk at The New Yorker and asks the 19-year-old young woman he is interviewing for a job, "What sort of work do you envision doing, Miss Groth?"

"Well, I want eventually to write, of course, but I would be glad to do anything in the publishing field."

"Can you type?"

"No" she admits. "You see, I was afraid that if I became a skilled typist I would wind up in the typing pool."

And thus with that one interview, Groth--beautiful, Midwestern, just out of college--is given the job of Receptionist, where she will remain for twenty-one years, longer than most of the legendary writers whose messages she delivered, dogs she walked, houses she sat, and children she watched. It is those years (1957-1978) that Groth recounts in her fabulous memoir THE RECEPTIONIST.

Despite dreams of penning her own articles for the magazine, Groth stayed put in the same position for twenty years. She ran interference for angry wives checking on adulterous husbands, drank with famous writers (John Berryman, Joseph Mitchell!) at famous watering holes throughout Greenwich Village, and was seduced, two-timed, proposed to, and manipulated by a few of those eccentric inhabitants of the magazine's eighteenth floor.

As the receptionist, Janet Groth was both a veteran insider and a distinct outsider. Her desk sat in the very middle of New York literary life and yet her perspective is anything but your typical New Yorker memoir. A little bit Mad Men, a little bit The Best of Everything, THE RECEPTIONIST is the book for fans of behind-the-scenes insider information on a dazzling time where lunch consisted of three martinis and life was an endless soiree.

The year is 1957. A shy E. B. White peers across his desk at The New Yorker and asks the 19-year-old young woman he is interviewing for a job, "What sort of work do you envision doing, Miss Groth?"

...


Advance Praise

"A nostalgic, wistful look at life inside one of America's most storied magazines . . . This bookish girl from flyover country who became a Mad Men-era hottie, and who found she had to leave this cozy nest in order to save herself, is very much an interesting character in her own right. For readers who can't get enough New Yorker lore, an amiable view from the inside."-Kirkus Reviews

"With her piled up blonde hairdo bent over the telephone messages she wrote by hand, Groth served for years in an aquarium-like booth as gatekeeper for a talented, tight-knit, rapscallion community. In this evocative memoir she is exuberantly frank about her young self, fresh from the Corn Belt, discovering sex and the city through two vanished mid-century worlds: The New Yorker of editor William Shawn and Bohemian Greenwich Village."-Kennedy Fraser, former New Yorker writer and author of Ornament and Silence: Essays on Women's Lives

"What a superb book. Beautifully written, so very frank, and with many insights into the world of magazine publishing. I can see a film, in the tradition of the one based on Rona Jaffe's The Best of Everything."-Foster Hirsch, author of The Dark Side of the Screen: Film Noir

"I truly loved this book and can't stop thinking about it. Janet Groth's stories of life at The New Yorker-during the golden age of William Shawn, Joseph Mitchell, Muriel Spark, and a host of others-is a memoir in the true, old-fashioned sense of the term: The story of a remarkable life, populated with equally remarkable characters. Ms. Groth provides sharp and very personal insight into some of the greatest writers of the last century, as well as a fascinating look inside the magazine that has shaped American culture like no other. But she also provides something very different, but equally transfixing: The poignant narrative of her own coming of age, as a woman, a writer, and a thinker-and, ultimately, the sort of wry iconoclast who would produce this lovely, moving, and utterly engrossing book."-Joanna Smith Rakoff, author of A Fortunate Age

"A nostalgic, wistful look at life inside one of America's most storied magazines . . . This bookish girl from flyover country who became a Mad Men-era hottie, and who found she had to leave this...


Available Editions

EDITION Hardcover
ISBN 9781616201319
PRICE $21.95 (USD)

Average rating from 2 members