Let Me Finish

Michael Hayward

Early in his memoir Let Me Finish (Harcourt), Roger Angell describes his mother Katherine White and his stepfather E. B. White as “a successful New Yorker couple—she a fiction editor; he a writer of casuals and poetry and the first-page Comment section”—and readers might wonder whether Angell, who is a frequent contributor to, and a fiction editor at, The New Yorker, owes his literary success to these family connections. But nepotism alone cannot account for Angell’s clean, concise writing style, which has helped him become (in the eyes of some) “the leading baseball writer of our time.” For that we can probably give some credit to a close reading of Strunk & White’s The Elements of Style. I picked up Let Me Finish after reading and admiring “Andy,” Angell’s essay on his stepfather, when it was first published in The New Yorker in 25. I was hoping to find more glimpses of E. B. White—as one looks forward to more time in good company—and White does make additional appearances in this book. “Andy” is one of seventeen essays collected in Let Me Finish. The essays do not appear to have been edited further following their initial publication in magazines, and the result is some overlap of material. In “At the Comic Weekly,” Angell “brings up friends and colleagues . . . at The New Yorker as they once were,” but he makes only passing reference to the controversial editor Tina Brown: as a veteran of The New Yorker’s golden years, Angell is too well-bred to vent in public.

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