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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fun collection of short vignettes looking back on one man's life
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...
Published on May 30, 2006 by Bookreporter

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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Snoozefest
I ' ve read at least 5 of his book 's and thought this would be interesting regarding his childhood etc .
It 's not . He stopped being interesting 20 years ago. Sorry .
Published on September 6, 2012 by ethan514


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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fun collection of short vignettes looking back on one man's life, May 30, 2006
By 
Bookreporter (New York, New York) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Let Me Finish (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. Simple and sweet, the chapter entitled "Movie Kid" is pure delight and once again captures a period of time long since forgotten in the age of blockbuster films. "Anyone who was the wrong age or in the wrong place for this stuff --- my parents and my children, for instance, and even those who picked it up later from videos and American-studies classes --- never quite caught up. We were the lucky ones, we first citizens of film, and we trusted the movies for the rest of our lives."

Three of the most vivid and nostalgic chapters are "The King of the Forest," "Andy" and "Twice Christmas," in which Angell examines his roots. In "The King of the Forest," he pokes and prods at the memory of his father --- the aforementioned "King" in the title --- portraying him with an honesty and awe that only a son's gaze could muster. He lays bare his father's infidelities (a reason for his mother's departure) yet still manages to convey his utter respect and love for him as a father figure.

In "Andy," he gives due reverence to his stepfather, the renowned author and editor E. B. White (STUART LITTLE, CHARLOTTE'S WEB, THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE). By Angell's depiction, Andy seems like a kind man, full of wisdom, talent, and the one-of-a-kind hankering for words and sentiment that produced not only the industry's top guidebook for grammar and writing, but also one of the best children's books ever written. In "Twice Christmas," Angell marries --- or should I say divorces --- his two fathers by uniting them with the one thing they had in common: his mother. With almost unnatural clarity, he captures the awkward essence of growing up in a broken home by recounting the details of possibly the most important morning of a young boy's life --- Christmas morning --- first at his father's and then again, after an overstuffed and anxious taxi ride across town, at his mother's/Andy's.

Readers who light up at the mention of celebrity will delight in Angell's brief references to W. Somerset Maugham and Vladimir Nabokov, and will get a kick out of his recollections of fellow New Yorker staffers Charles McGrath, William Shawn, founder Harold Ross, William Mazwell and the like. But it is his dance with the familiar in LET ME FINISH that reaps its due reward. "Life is tough and brimming with loss, and the most we can do about it is to glimpse ourselves clear now and then, and find out what we feel about familiar scenes and recurring faces this time around."

--- Reviewed by Alexis Burling
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very pleasurable escape, May 30, 2006
By 
Marilyn Jaye Lewis (Easton, PA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Let Me Finish (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
5.0 out of 5 stars Humor, Sadness, Excellent Little Stories, June 28, 2006
This review is from: Let Me Finish (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
5.0 out of 5 stars more than a baseball writer, June 5, 2006
This review is from: Let Me Finish (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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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If Scott Fitzgerald Had Worked At The New Yorker, November 17, 2006
This review is from: Let Me Finish (Hardcover)
Don't be fooled by Roger Angell's encyclopedic knowledge of major-league baseball into thinking he isn't in the same league as F.Scott Fitzgerald and John O'Hara. Because he is....Roger Angell was keeping score of the American Scene all the while he was watching the "greats" of mid-20th century American literature make their indubitable marks. Now, his chronicler's eye catches some very poignant truths--"hard lines"--in these tranquil reflections about times and places when engaging people wanted to be counted as both cosmopolitan and caring human beings--before "caring" had become, somehow, passe. Roger Angell cared to get it right--and his assemblage of pieces from his New Yorker's reminiscences, titled "Let Me Finish," will stand the test of time for a very long time, indeed. His wistfulness is poet's testament to the "grand illusions" of this fleeting life which he has so masterfully caught in his own "forever amber."
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21 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Do you enjoy Vodka Martinis at The Club?, May 6, 2006
By 
Eric J. Lyman (Roma, Lazio Italy) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Let Me Finish (Hardcover)
I had a hard time identifying with author and long-time New Yorker contributor Roger Angell and his "life sheltered by privilege and engrossing work" that he "shot through with good luck." I know Mr. Angell's essays, but in book form the sizeable silver spoon in the author's mouth at birth and a family tree that includes New Yorker legend (and a hero of mine and my fellow grammarians) E.B. White has a charming but foreign country club/Vodka Martini feel to me -- even though he discusses it so as-a-matter-of-factly that it isn't annoying, as it might otherwise be.

The book describes an America that probably never existed, at least outside very slim social classes: no crime, no racism, no poverty, no social strife, no politics. But it's all told so smoothly that the pages float by almost effortlessly.

There is no denying that Mr. Angell's has a subtle and smooth talent for words, matched only by his wit, charm, and insight. And yet the book always seemed on the verge of becoming unforgettable without ever making it there. At least for me, it never clicked. I have a hard time describing why, but it seemed to me like a painting that is technically sound and skillfully created but still missing the unidentifiable quality that would make it a masterpiece.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Hard Lines" softened in the telling; a warm wonderful memoir, January 14, 2009
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This review is from: Let Me Finish (Paperback)
Roger Angell, at 88, is a lucky man. He thinks so himself. He's survived his knocks, his various unhapinesses - divorced parents, a divorce of his own, friends gone but not forgotten - and he appreciates what he has now, as well as what life has dealt him along the way. "Hard lines" is a phrase recalled from his college days, a shouted or whispered expression that could mean anything from "Buck up," or "Get over it, to "I'm so very sorry." Another reviewer noted he was glad that Angell spent more time talking about his childhood and youth than he did on his days at The New Yorker, where he worked as an editor for over fifty years. Me too, I guess, because remembrances from childhood and young adult years when we're all so fulla juice are often the most interesting. But when, in the latter part of the book, Angell does in fact get around to discussing the magazine and all the luminaries and characters who passed through its doors and pages, that part too is intensely interesting, especially if you're a "book person," as I have always been. I found myself taking notes, writing down names of authors and book titles I'd never heard of. And a few of those are already in my cart, waiting until I can sneak another Amazon order past my wife. This is not just a lot of fond reminiscing about "the good old days." This is memoir writing of the very highest calibre. I knew before I began this book that E.B. White was Angell's stepfather, so I expected to learn a bit more about that famous author of Charlotte's Webb and Stuart Little. And I did - in fact there is a whole chapter on "Andy" White - but I found myself perhaps even more interested in what Angell tells about his real father, Ernest Angell (called "Serious Cupid" by his school chums), a not particularly successful lawyer. What impressed me most about Angell's father was the seriousness with which he took his role as a "single parent," something rare among men in the 1920s and -30s. This is such a fascinating book I'm not quite sure what else to point out. I was interested to learn that Angell spent his summers for most of his life near Brooklin, ME, not far from Sargentville, ME, where writer Doris Grumbach plunked herself to spend the "end" of her life, and where she has resided mostly happily for the past 20 years. Grumbach is now 90 (and I just read two of her memoirs). I wonder if the two know each other. Perhaps one of the things I like most about Roger Angell is that despite a very successful professional life he refuses to take himself too seriously, but yet he recognizes the seriousness of what he has lived through and what might still be coming. Here's an excerpt from the "Hard Lines" section:

"It's my guess that we cling to the harsher bits of the past not just as a warning system to remind us that the next Indian raid or suddenly veering, tower-bound 757 is always waiting, but as a passport to connect us to the rest of the world, whose horrors are available each morning and evening on television or in the TIMES. And the cold moment that returns to mind and sticks there unbidden, may be preferable to the alternative and much longer blank spaces ... Like it or not, we geezers are not the curators of this unstable repository of trifling or tragic days, but only the screenwriters and directors of the latest revival."

At 88, Roger Angell may be on the downslope career-wise. However, as a writer he's at the top of his game - no "geezer-ness" in sight. He clued me in on a couple of other former New Yorker memoirs from Gardner Botsford and Emily Hahn, which I look forward to reading. But mostly I am grateful Angell has finally told his own story, honestly, without bitterness - even about its painful memories - and with humor and flair. This is one terrific book. - Tim Bazzett, author of LOVE, WAR & POLIO and SOLDIER BOY
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Snoozefest, September 6, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Let Me Finish (Paperback)
I ' ve read at least 5 of his book 's and thought this would be interesting regarding his childhood etc .
It 's not . He stopped being interesting 20 years ago. Sorry .
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Pleasure to Read, August 31, 2006
This review is from: Let Me Finish (Hardcover)
I look forward to reading this again and again to enjoy Angell's flowing and immaculate use of language and to visit again and again with his friends and family.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Very pleasing gift, April 7, 2014
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This review is from: Let Me Finish (Paperback)
I got it as a gift, and he loved it. He's not easy to please with books, but this one was a hit.
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Let Me Finish
Let Me Finish by Roger Angell (Paperback - June 4, 2007)
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