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McSorley's Wonderful Saloon Hardcover – June 5, 2001


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The Bone Clocks
David Mitchell's hypnotic new novel crackles with invention and sheer storytelling pleasure. Learn more

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon; First Edition, First Printing edition (June 5, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375421025
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375421020
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.4 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #955,410 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"I don't think anything could be as much fun as to get a good hold on a pompous person and shake him or her until you can hear the false teeth rattling," says New Yorker cartoonist Peter Arno to journalist Mitchell in a World-Telegram profile from the 1930s, but the sentiment could be applied to Mitchell himself. With the ability to turn bluntness to beauty, sarcasm to sincerity and plain speech to poetry, Mitchell who worked at the World-Telegram from 1930 to 1938 and spent the rest of his career at the New Yorker was a reporter and literary artist par excellence, interested in nearly everyone and everything. His profile of a stripper who begins naked and puts on her clothes is as fascinating as his sketch of George Bernard Shaw. Similarly, he is as empathetic toward Mary Louise Cecilia Guinan (the speakeasy queen usually called "Texas") as he is to the plight of Anne Morrow Lindbergh testifying at the kidnapping trial of her infant son. These 37 pieces and profiles most from the 1938 edition of this book, but with some new material added are breathtaking in their simplicity and honesty. Written at a time when newspapers tried to be as sensational as possible without appearing vulgar "belly" would be changed to "tummy" and "raped" became "criminally attacked" Mitchell made New York City shockingly vibrant and colorful without cheapening his subjects. He also evinced an empathy for African-Americans that's startling for the period (and the genre). In all, his liberating and refreshing honesty makes these pieces as vivacious, original and important as they were 65 years ago.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Mitchell was a cherished columnist for the now-defunct New York World-Telegram in the 1930s. He wrote primarily about the variety of street characters who seemed to be abundant in the great metropolis, and his columns read like Weegee photos transformed into words. These two volumes collect dozens of those portraits: My Ears Are Bent covers a variety of subjects, while McSorley's, which features a new foreword by Calvin Trillin, is a gallery of the customers at the famous Bowery watering hole. Great pieces of Americana.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Joseph Mitchell came to New York from North Carolina the day after the 1929 stock market crash. After eight years as a reporter and feature writer at various newspapers, he joined the staff of The New Yorker, where he remained until his death in 1996 at the age of eighty-seven. His other books include McSorley's Wonderful Saloon, My Ears Are Bent, Up in the Old Hotel, Old Mr. Flood, and Joe Gould's Secret.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

44 of 48 people found the following review helpful By John Stark Bellamy II on July 16, 2001
Format: Hardcover
"McSorley's Wonderful Saloon" is, indeed, a wonderful compilation of Joseph Mitchell at the height of his uncanny literary powers. But Mitchell fans should be aware that all of its contents are likewise to be found in a previous compilation ("Up In The Old Hotel")which also includes "The Bottom of the Harbor," "Old Mr. Flood" and "Joe Gould's Secret." Fortunate readers who already possess "Up In The Old Hotel" should acquire the other newly republished Mitchell compilation, "My Ears Are Bent," a terrific collection of newspaper articles written by before Mitchell became embalmed at "The New Yorker."
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By William E. Wander on June 18, 2001
Format: Hardcover
What a pleasure to see this classic returned to print. Mr. Mitchell had a wonderful ear in his time, and now almost fifty years later, the tone is still strong, and the places that he told us of are mostly gone. Thankfully, McSorley's is still with us, but the Beefsteak Party (The Second best of the stories) and the theater on Park Row are long gone, as is the Third Avenue El. No one rides that anymore in the summer to cool off. There is a reason why this was voted one of the top 100 pieces of American Journalism in the 20th century by New York University's journalism department. (it placed 84th)
Buy it to read the bit on McSorley's, "The Old House at Home," and buy it to read "All You can Hold for Five Bucks," buy it to read one wonderful story at a time. Its good to see it back.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By William Simoneau on March 10, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I originially bought this book because I am a fan of McSorley's and wanted to learn a little about New York History. I had no previous knowledge of Joseph Mitchell's works, and did not know what to expect. I wondered how someone could write a 350 page book about when bar. Then i soon realized that the book is a compilation of short stories about the characters of the city in the 30's and 40's. Primary source history usually bores me, because it is often dry, about someone consequential, and you have to read through alot for a little interesting information.

But the way Mitchell presents these characters you are drawn in into their plight,eccentricities, or just regular routines. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the history of the city, or if you are a fan of the bar and are just curious like myself
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Carolin A. Ringwall on September 6, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have a special interest in McSorley's as my greatgrandfather, Phil McEvoy, lived over his blacksmith shop in 1870 on East 6th St. and could see McSorley's from his front door right down the street that runs between 6th and 7th. Unfortunately for his family he had a special fondness for the "sauce", so I am sure he spent too much time there.....This was a great history and gave me a true flavor of the place.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Debnance at Readerbuzz on December 22, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I wanted to find a copy of a collection of short stories from the New Yorker about New York. It's an older book, but it's not out of print. Nevertheless, I couldn't find it at any of the bookstores I tried while I was in New York.

Instead, a kindly bookseller directed me to this book. It turned out to be exactly the type of book I was seeking. It's a collection of pieces that Joseph Mitchell wrote about odd New Yorkers he ran across in his work as a journalist during the thirties, forties, fifties, and sixties. It is actually a book within a book, in a recently published collection of out-of-print books by Mitchell, titled Up in the Old Hotel.

I was fascinated by a little story that I discovered about Mitchell that I ran across while researching his life further. Mitchell interviewed a down-and-out fellow back in the thirties who claimed to be writing an enormous book, compiled in many volumes, about New York that consisted solely of conversations the fellow had had with people he met. A number of literary figures befriended this fellow over the years. Many years later, in the sixties, after the fellow passed away, Mitchell searched for the volumes of the book and he was dismayed to discover that the book was a figment of the fellow's mind, that nothing had ever been written. After writing this piece, Mitchell never wrote another word for publication, though he went into work every day for many years.
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