Thurber Tonight: The good-bye to McNulty, and unhappy words directed to Shawn
John Aloysius McNulty in the '40s
The name of John McNulty turned up in Thurber's appreciations of both his father ("Gentleman from Indiana," part 1 and part 2) and his mother ("Lavender with a Difference," part 1, part 2, and part 3), because Thurber's friendship with McNulty was forged when both he and the New York native were working on newspapers in Thurber's native Columbus, Ohio, and McNulty knew Thurber's parents.
When McNulty was taken on staff by The New Yorker, Thurber wrote to Katharine White, then still the magazine's fiction editor:
I'm glad McNulty was taken on and sure do hope he stays. I know he is crazy about it and will work very hard. Of course my rating of him is as one of the great people. What he knows about journalism, New York, Jews, Irish, cops, waiters, bartenders, city editors, Columbus, war, soldiers, social figures, bums, millionaires, is all there is to know. He's a fine reporter, the best mixer I know -- he can get in with anyone anywhere -- and has a sense of humor, a turn of wit, and a gift for phrase absolutely his own. I think that more and more he will be able to write what we want back there. But I don't want him to lose his marvelous original genius for phrases, sentences, and ideas. About a third of the things I like to remember when I lie awake are things John has said, found, or revealed.
With part 2 of "Gentleman from Indiana" I included part of theThe New Yorker obituary written by Thurber when McNulty died suddenly in 1956. I thought now we would read the whole thing (it's not that long), or at least the published version, because the editing -- done by New Yorker editor William Shawn himself -- occasioned an interesting letter to Shawn from Thurber.
TO READ THE McNULTY OBIT, AND THE LETTER
THURBER THEN WROTE TO SHAWN, CLICK HERE
TOMORROW: The debut of RING LARDNER TONIGHT, probably with Part 1 of "The Young Immigrunts"
THURBER TONIGHT (including BENCHLEY TONIGHT,
WILL CUPPY TONIGHT, and WOLCOTT GIBBS TONIGHT):
Check out the series to date