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The Receptionist

An Education at The New Yorker

This book can be downloaded and read in iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


In 1957, when a young Midwestern woman landed a job at The New Yorker, she didn’t expect to stay long at the reception desk. But stay she did, and for twenty-one years she had the best seat in the house. In addition to taking messages, she ran interference for jealous wives checking on adulterous husbands, drank with famous writers at famous watering holes throughout bohemian Greenwich Village, and was seduced, two-timed, and proposed to by a few of the magazine’s eccentric luminaries. This memoir of a particular time and place is an enchanting tale of a woman in search of herself.

From Publishers Weekly

Apr 09, 2012 – Revelatory dispatches from 21 years as a receptionist at the New Yorker 1957 to 1978 expose more about Groth s (Edmund Wilson) own sense of writerly inadequacy in that pre-feminist era than about the famous writers she worked for. Fresh out of the University of Minnesota, armed with a writing prize and an entr e to interview with the New Yorker s legendary E.B. White, Groth secured a receptionist job on the 18th floor of the midtown Manhattan building the writers floor with every expectation of moving on to fact-checking or reporting within a year or two. While answering their phones and messages, watering their plants, babysitting their kids, and housesitting, Groth secured mentoring relationships (and regular lunches) with numerous writers like John Berryman, Joseph Mitchell, and Muriel Spark, whom she delineates in touching tributes, yet the simmering subtext to this deeply reflective, rueful memoir is the question why she did not advance in two decades at the magazine. After losing her virginity to a young dissolute contract artist she calls Evan Simm, who ended up affianced to someone else, Groth plunged into a period of acting out as the promiscuous party girl ( Yep, a dumb blond, she calls herself) before travel, psychotherapy, and graduate school directed her to a path of her own making. As the magazine weathered tumultuous events of the 1960s and 70, Groth chronicles the many dazzling personalities whose lives touched, and moved, hers.
The Receptionist
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  • $9.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Biographies & Memoirs
  • Published: Jun 11, 2013
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books
  • Seller: Workman Publishing Co., Inc.
  • Print Length: 320 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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