John, The New Yorker, John Bennett discussed on The Kicker

The Kicker


The voice you're hearing belong to a man named John Bennett. He worked at The New Yorker for more than 40 years. First, on the copy desk, then as an editor. But I added my instinct. A lot of editors overanalyze a piece. Tetris doesn't work for me. It's like a skating on thin ice and if you stop to think about it, you fall through. It just keeps going. So it's something a very instinctive editor. Unlike most, I think. John was unlike most in almost every way. The path he took to becoming a distinguished editor and beloved mentor to so many myself included was especially unusual. So a few months ago, when John was diagnosed with cancer, we decided to make this recording about his life and career. He got very sick, very fast. By the time we got to it, he was in the hospital. And he likes vanilla insure and he likes a little orange juice. We have the phone right there. We'll get it for you. You can order. Okay. Okay. An orange orange. Orange juice. And coffee in the morning. Not deny that. Tonight, that's about it. I did bring an insurance. Okay. That's Dana, John's wife. She got us situated, then left. So it was just John and me. He was in his bed wearing a hospital gown. But describing John in this circumstance seems undignified and certainly doesn't give you a picture of who he was in his element. Here's Nick palm garden who is one of John's writers. He was sort of stylishly slovenly, I guess. You know, he had either khakis or jeans really baggy sort of slung low, you know, an untucked button down shirt, usually blue, I mean, for all I know he had two of each and some old tennis sneakers, you know, he had this sort of laid back laconic aspect about him that once you got to know it a little better, it was extremely welcoming. It was that office being in his space, getting his attention. It was sort of a warm embrace. And I sort of increasingly over time, especially once he was my editor, I spent a lot of time in that office, and he had this chair. I think the chair I would sit in was an old, it was really deep. I mean, just sink into it. So, and then he'd be in his desk chair, and he'd spin around and happily just pass the time. Okay, so when did you start working at The New Yorker? On January of 1975. And what was your first position there? At the copy desk. The editor buys the piece. I bought the piece. And it went to the copy desk. And you weren't allowed to make any substitute changes. You're only allowed to do style changes in New Yorker style was very eccentric, every introductory clause has a comma. I just thought that weird 20 style. It took me 6 months with the style book to learn style. It was amazing. So I did that for a year or so. I remember being very surprised before I worked at The New Yorker hours of intense New York and creepy. And some of the talk stories I couldn't understand what was going on because they were just going along and suddenly stopping properly.

Coming up next