Man in Profile: Joseph Mitchell of the New Yorker
Publisher: Blackstone Audiobooks
Date: July 2015
Duration: 11 hours 24 minutes
This fascinating biography reveals the untold story of the legendary New Yorker profile writer and unravels the mystery behind one of literary history’s greatest disappearing acts.
Born and raised in North Carolina, Joseph Mitchell was Southern to the core. But from the 1930s to the 1960s, he was the voice of New York City. Readers of the New Yorker cherished his intimate sketches of the people who made the city tick—from Mohawk steelworkers to Staten Island oystermen, from homeless intellectual Joe Gould to Old John McSorley, founder of the city’s most famous saloon. Mitchell’s literary sensibility combined with a journalistic eye for detail produced a writing style that would inspire New Journalism luminaries such as Gay Talese, Tom Wolfe, and Joan Didion.
Then, all of a sudden, his stories stopped appearing. For thirty years, Mitchell showed up for work at the New Yorker—but produced nothing. Did he have something new and exciting in store? Was he working on a major project? Or was he bedeviled by an epic case of writer’s block?
The first full-length biography of Joseph Mitchell, based on the thousands of archival pages he left behind and dozens of interviews, Man in Profile pieces together the life of this beloved and enigmatic literary legend and answers the question that has plagued readers and critics for decades: What was Joe Mitchell doing all those years?
Fifty years after his last story appeared, and almost two decades after his death, Joseph Mitchell still has legions of fans, and his story—especially the mystery of his “disappearance”—continues to fascinate. With a colorful cast of characters that includes Harold Ross, A. J. Liebling, Tina Brown, James Thurber, and William Shawn, Man in Profile goes a long way to solving that mystery—and bringing this lion of American journalism out of the shadows that once threatened to swallow him.
“What could be as pleasurable as reading a New Yorker piece by Joseph Mitchell? Here is an answer: reading Man in Profile. With groundbreaking research and a felicitous touch deserving of the subject, Thomas Kunkel not only brings the great writer back to life but greatly enhances our understanding of how he thought and wrote and, in the end, did not write.”—David Maraniss, Pulitzer Prize–winning author
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