For nearly 50 years, Lillian Ross has been writing remarkable literary journalism for The New Yorker. Her unerring “Talk of the Town” pieces and her incisive profiles have won her a legion of admirers. Many credit The New Yorker for inspiring the refinement of literary journalism, and Ross was an integral part of that effort.
In that time, Ross has built up an arsenal of journalistic techniques, which she shares here in some detail. She discusses her feelings about journalism, praising her New Yorker colleagues (notably the late editor William Shawn) and offering her definition of journalism (factual reporting built of good writing and singular humor). The majority of the book is filled with Ross’s deconstruction of some of her best-loved pieces, including 1949’s “Come In, Lassie!” (about politics in the film business); 1950’s “How Do You Like It Now, Gentlemen?” (a profile of Ernest Hemingway); and 1960’s “The Yellow Bus” (concerning a group of tourists visiting New York City).