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The Road to West 43rd Street

The Road to West 43rd Street

By Nash K. Burger
With Pearl Amelia McHaney
Afterword by Eudora Welty
Paperback : 9781604732603, 216 pages, February 2009

A lively memoir detailing the days before, during, and after an editorial life at the New York Times Book Review


For nearly thirty years and through the tenure of five editors-in-chief, Nash K. Burger was on the editorial staff of the New York Times Book Review. In this engaging reminiscence, he explores the route that took him to that bastion of the book world, headquartered in New York City on West 43rd Street. Burger is a natural raconteur whose ease with the word enhances this appealing narrative. His point-of-view, though particularly southern, has been honed for a national audience who will be entertained and enlightened by his personal perspective.

Burger grew up in a circle of talented adolescents in Jackson, Mississippi, that includes one of his oldest friends, the author Eudora Welty, who preceded him at the Book Review for one summer when she served as copy editor. By 1945 Burger joined a few other distinguished Mississippians, such as Turner Catledge, at the New York Times, and in the stream of years that followed he reviewed more than 1,300 books.

From his earliest days, Burger was a reader and a writer. Instinctively drawn to books, he moved on to editing. From his position at the Book Review, he wrote frequently but not exclusively on his favorite subjects: the Civil War, religion, and the literature of the American South. The trail he has left from West 43rd Street is that of the intelligent, mindful southern gentleman. Twenty years after his departure, as his friend Miss Welty proclaimed for his retirement party, his is “a mind both clear and wise, responsive and reflective, that has yet to be amazed for the first time at the human comedy around him. He won't stop living with books; whatever he does, he'll write or edit or publish. ”