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Larry McMurtry and Joseph Mitchell

Posted by Jan Gardner  July 3, 2008 09:40 AM

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Larry McMurtry's new memoir, "Books," is a pastiche of moments from his life as a book dealer. Near the end of his memoir, he mentions a technique that has saved him a lot of time and travel over the years. He asks book dealers putting a collection up for sale to make a video showing their wares. It was in a video from a bookshop in Lincoln, Nebraska, that McMurtry noticed a greenish book nestled in with some boys' books. "I looked at the greenish book several times and determined that it was definitely not a boy's book. Instead, it was a legendary New Yorker book: Joseph Mitchell's "My Ears Are Bent": his early journalism, most of it pre-New Yorker. It cost me $18, $3 of which was postage."

Coincidentally, Vintage this month has published a new edition of "My Ears Are Bent,'' originally published in 1938. This collection of Mitchell’s early newspaper pieces has been reissued in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of his birth. Mitchell wrote for New York’s World-Telegram from 1930-1938, and nearly 400,000 people read his columns daily, enthralled with his tales about evangelists, voodoo conjurers, burlesque performers, and a racing cockroach salesman.

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About off the shelf News about books, authors, and publishers from The Boston Globe.
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Nicole Lamy is editor of the Globe's Books section.
Jan Gardner writes the "Shelf Life" column for the Globe's Books section.
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