Thursday, December 7, 2017

On Feeling like an Outsider

This is from Nathan Heller's account of Tina Brown's reign as New York's top editor of glossy magazines:
Every New York bildungsroman has essentially the same plot. A wide-eyed outsider drifts among the city's urbane and jaded lions with fear and amusement, acutely aware that she is not one of those powerful, entrenched, kind-of-terrible, New York people. . . Brown's version is complicated by a sense of doubleness that she has from the start and never sheds.
And this is from a review of Pamela Paul's new memoir:
As a child Pamela Paul, editor of the NY Times Book Review, loved rainy days, when she could curl up on the sofa with a book. . . . Pamela's mother named her after one of the first novels in English, and whenever they went to a bookstore, her father indulged her. Pamela came out with a pile of books. . .

Escaping her Long Island suburb by going to Brown, she was disappointed when The Faerie Queene failed to transport her, but continued to read voraciously beyond the assigned reading lists, "trying to find out what it was that everyone else seemed to know already."
Everybody feels this way, even the kind of people who end up editing Variety and the NY Times Book Review. I eventually figured it out, but from all of the angsty articles I read by former students, many never do. Would it help them if they knew? Or would they, in the way of unhappy teenagers, insist that their own problems were unique and grownups who say otherwise just don't understand?

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