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Let Me Finish Hardcover – May 8, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Over the past few years, New Yorker readers have been treated to the occasional personal reflection from Angell, stepping outside his usual baseball beat to write about such intimacies as his passion for sailing or his childhood fascination with the movies. It's the family drama that's of most immediate interest, as Angell recalls the divorce of his parents, Ernest and Katherine Angell, and his mother's subsequent remarriage to E.B. White, affectionately known as Andy. Or perhaps readers will be more eager to hear about life at the New Yorker, especially since Angell admits, "I no longer expect to write" much more about his fellow writers and editors than the miniature portraits collected here (but thankfully we do have such scenes as the visit he and S.J. Perelman paid to W. Somerset Maugham while vacationing in France in 1949). Whatever the subject, Angell writes with his customary elegance and modesty; "I've kept quiet about my trifling army career all these years," he says in one essay, just before spinning off a series of captivating anecdotes about his WWII service. The assembled pieces add up to a fine memoir. (May 8)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* New Yorker readers have been savoring Angell's autobiographical essays every few months for the last three years. Now they can be read consecutively, and the effect is both less and more than a traditional autobiography: less because there is no attempt to tell the story of a life as a developing narrative, but more because the book unfolds like memories do, a single image crystallizing a traumatic event or encapsulating a period of years ("the look of the overgrown lawn and our knees oddly in a row," when Angell is told by his mother about her impending divorce). The topics of the individual essays range from baseball in the 1930s (Gehrig and Ruth in Yankee Stadium, Mel Ott and Bill Terry at the Polo Grounds) to friends, family, and colleagues at the New Yorker, where Angell, now in his eighties, has worked for 40 years and where his mother, Katherine, and stepfather, E. B. White, worked before him. His recollections of literary people are uniformly fascinating, as much for the low-key manner in which they are related as for the glimpses they offer into the private lives of such luminaries as William Maxwell and S. J. Perelman. The most memorable aspects of this captivating chronicle, however, are the purely personal memories. Describing his teenage attempt to become a screwball-throwing pitcher in the manner of Carl Hubbell, Angell notes that after he threw his arm out, he "took up smoking and irony in self-defense." The irony never left him; it flavors these graceful essays throughout, but it never tastes bitter. Instead, there is an endearing objectivity ("I've had a life sheltered by privilege, and engrossing work, and shot through with good luck") and a lingering sense of bemused surprise that so much can be remembered so fondly. Bill Ott
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harcourt; 1st edition (May 8, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0151013500
  • ISBN-13: 978-0151013500
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.9 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #297,963 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on May 30, 2006
Format: Hardcover
For connoisseurs of New Yorker fiction editor and contributor Roger Angell's celebrated writings on all things baseball (GAME TIME, A PITCHER'S STORY, LATE INNINGS, etc.), his latest offering will be a change of pace. This collection of short vignettes, which was written in the last three years and loosely tied together into memoir format, is both slower going (rightly so) yet more free-flowing than his previous books. Overflowing with remembrances of past events, familial anecdotes, New Yorker insides and general day-to-day musings, LET ME FINISH is both a pleasure to read and an insightful look into the nooks and crannies of one man's lifetime over the last 70 or so years.

Although many may find all of the chapters interesting merely as records of a life lived, there are a few sections that stand out above the rest. In "Romance," Angell beautifully illustrates America's love affair with the open road by recounting various car trips taken during his childhood. He perfectly captures the quiet freedom unleashed when behind the wheel or in the back of a moving vehicle and pinpoints one of those quintessential moments when all seems right in the world and full of promise: "There were many reasons for my feeling so happy. We were on our way. I had seen a dawn...Ahead, a girl waited who, if I asked, would marry me, but first there was a long trip; many hours and towns interceded between me and that encounter."

Like many kids who grew up during the Prohibition era and the Depression, Angell was utterly bewitched with the burgeoning world of cinema. There was nothing quite like skipping school to sit in the delicious darkness of a movie theater, and every chance he got, he would treat himself to the latest double feature.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Marilyn Jaye Lewis on May 30, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I don't think its every writer's responsibility to tackle the harsh truths about life on earth--these things: war, famine, poverty, violence, racism, overall unfairness, grief and unhappiness--exist eternally. However, the personalities who "people" life are ephemeral and for the most part, if we're lucky, it's our relationship to those personalities and the times spent with them that make being alive on earth worthwhile. I think Roger Angell has captured those fleeting feelings and those tender personalities in a very emotionally satisfying way, regardless of whether or not he has lived a life of seeming privilege. These essays will deftly help you escape the world of CNN's Situation Room, et al, for awhile. The book will probably make you wish you could recall your own childhood memories in such fond detail, and it will certainly make you hope your own life will be remembered by others with such a sense of wistful tolerance and easy forgiveness.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By John Matlock on June 28, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This biography of a sort is really a series of stories that reflect important parts of his life. Being a supurb writer his little vignettes are a mixture of humor, history, personal views, and whatever he wants to say. I think I liked the story of his Army Air Corp life during World War II the best. The idea of the Army losing his paperwork so that effectively he didn't exist sort of told me that the Army hadn't changed when I went in a generation later.

Angell is best known as a baseball writer and there's some baseball here, but there's a lot more. As he says, he didn't intend to write a biography, he just wrote a few stories about things in his past. Later on he looked at them and here was a book.

It's delightful reading. Not too serious, and he's not going to tell you 'I was born...' Born to well off, if not rich parents, he sums up his life: 'I've had a life sheltered by privilege, and engrossing work, and shot through with good luck.' That almost sums up the book as well.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Roddy Craig on June 5, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Roger Angell's LET ME FINISH is a collection of autobiographical essays by a writer best known for his New Yorker magazine articles on the World Series, and his profiles of Bob Gibson, David Cone, etc. (He also wrote the baseball classic THE SUMMER GAME.) Angell was born in 1920, and grew to adulthood in New York City. LET ME FINISH is a beautifully written account of Angell's life told in relatively brief chapters.

There is an essay about traveling America by automobile in 1920's and 30's. His mother's (Katherine Sargent, who was a New Yorker magazine editor) divorce from Roger's father, and her subsequent marriage to E. B. ("Andy") White, author of STUART LITTLE and CHARLOTTE'S WEB, is also detailed. There are (to relate a few) essays on skipping school to go to the movies, a trip by bus with a pal and a sick snake to the zoo's reptile attendent for treatment (for the snake), and a memorable round of golf with an "older woman". Sounds dull and boring perhaps, but Angell's marvelous gift for using words makes for pleasurable reading.

The final essay, "Hard Lines", is about the loss of loved ones, and might bring a tear to the eye and a lump to the throat.

An excellent book. One well worth your time.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Avid Reader on March 2, 2014
Format: Paperback
I'm a big fan of Roger Angell's baseball writing, but this book just doesn't do it for me. Maybe I'm jealous of the interesting life he's led, but I think my reasons for being disappointed with this book go deeper. It's just so indulgent (memoirs are, I guess), but here the material is just so insufferable I found myself saying that I'd hate this guy. To his credit, Angell admits he was a pain in the butt as a kid and a teen --- always talking, always thinking he was smarter than everyone else, demanding a lot of attention, etc. --- and he tells some anecdotes in which he realizes after-the-fact he didn't come across too positively.

But I just can't find his musings on how much he likes automobiles very interesting, or caring that he and his sister had to endure a 2nd Christmas each year that they didn't like as much as the 1st because his parents were divorced.

By the end of the book, I felt as if Angell was almost apologizing for using his intellect and sensibility to focus on the often loud and crass world of sport. It was as if he was saying, "See, I had all of these advantages, and I really am special in a New York intellectual way."
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