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Conversations with James Thurber

Conversations with James Thurber

Edited by Thomas Fensch
Series: Literary Conversations Series

Paperback : 9780878054107, 144 pages, September 1989


In Conversations with James Thurber this remarkable man who has been called America's twentieth-century Mark Twain and who was one of the great talkers of his time expresses his opinions on just about everything and recounts stories and anecdotes about his life which provided the basis for much of his humor writing.

These entertaining interviews, conducted by Arthur Miller, Harvey Breit, George Plimpton, Arthur Gelb, and others, span twenty-two years, from 1939–1961. In them Thurber recalls his youth in Columbus, Ohio, his struggles as a student at Ohio State University, and his days of literary and journalistic apprenticeship in Europe as a code clerk and newspaperman who had to recreate entire stories from a few words of coded copy provided by the wire service. He tells too of his early days in New York City when he joined the staff of The New Yorker, of the origins of his drawings, of the pleasures that word games and mental puzzles gave him, and of his increasing blindness and its effect on his work and his perception of the world.

As a man who like to express his opinions and to have an audience, Thurber enjoyed interviews and rarely refused to grant them. With the interview format, he became so skilled that he perfected the interview-monologue into a Thurberesque art form, the oral equivalent of the autobiographical essay that he refined in his prose.