"Reporting Always: Writings From The New Yorker" (Scribner), by Lillian Ross
There are few people who can say they have been on the company's payroll for decades. Lillian Ross is one of those individuals. She began her career at The New Yorker in 1945 as a reporter for "The Talk of the Town" section. Seven decades later, audiences continue to be charmed by a collection of her writings in "Reporting Always."
Ross was 19 when she was hired by managing editor Harold Ross. Although impatient, he was a mentor who encouraged her to "follow your own bent." Whether it was her young age or an eagerness to succeed at an exciting new job, Ross wasn't afraid to tackle each assignment with her own style. Basic curiosity was the building block of that style.
One endearing entry is an essay featuring Ernest Hemingway. The novelist welcomes Ross to tag along on a few excursions as he and his family visit New York City for a few days in 1950. Instead of a stale review on one of America's greatest writers, Ross depicted the energetic man who hated to shop and loved to drink. She simply did her job — reporting not only what she saw, but also on what she heard, felt, tasted and touched.
Ross approaches each of her writings as if it were a small movie; there must be a beginning, middle and end. She has a way of painting a visual picture for the audience. In her Robin Williams essay, readers can feel the affection the "Mrs. Doubtfire" cast and crew felt for his character. After reading "Symbol of All We Possess," readers feel that they, too, attended the Miss America pageant in 1949. Who doesn't wonder if Dennis, the senior from Bean Blossom Township High School, ever returned to New York City after his visit in 1960?
Readers are invested in Ross' work because she's invested. She has the ability to dive deep into the minds and hearts of interviewees, and readers are lucky that through her writing, they are able to come along for the ride.