A new collection of immersive essays from the most acclaimed editor of the second half of the twentieth century
This new collection from the legendary editor Robert Gottlieb features twenty or so pieces he’s written mostly for The New York Review of Books, ranging from reconsiderations of American writers such as Dorothy Parker, Thornton Wilder, Thomas Wolfe (“genius”), and James Jones, to Leonard Bernstein, Lorenz Hart, Lady Diana Cooper (“the most beautiful girl in the world”), the actor-assassin John Wilkes Booth, the scandalous movie star Mary Astor, and not-yet president Donald Trump.
The writings compiled here are as various as they are provocative: an extended probe into the world of post-death experiences; a sharp look at the biopics of transcendent figures such as Shakespeare, Molière, and Austen; a soap opera-ish movie account of an alleged affair between Chanel and Stravinsky; and a copious sampling of the dance reviews he’s been writing for The New York Observer for close to twenty years. A worthy successor to his expansive 2011 collection, Lives and Letters, and his admired 2016 memoir, Avid Reader, Near-Death Experiences displays the same insight and intellectual curiosity that have made Gottlieb, in the words of The New York Times’s Dwight Garner, “the most acclaimed editor of the second half of the twentieth century.”
“Mr. Gottlieb emerges as a kind of Zelig of American publishing. The most acclaimed editor of the second half of the 20th century, he seemed to have a hand in everything that mattered . . . An indispensable work of American publishing history, thick with instruction and soul and gossip of the higher sort.” —Dwight Garner, The New York Times on Avid Reader
“Delightful . . . The best editors’ memoirs revive the magic without devolving into nostalgia . . . Avid Reader succeeds on both counts.” —Sarah Weinman, The New Republic on Avid Reader