Terry McDonell: The Accidental Life



Th McDonell does what a good ditor is supposed to do let his writers shine For fans of magazines glory days and the writers that came with it Hunter Thompson George Plimpton Jim Harrison Death in Mumbai etc or journalism nerds looking to learn a thing or two about the business this is a must read It s like sitting down in a bar with the ultimate insider and listening to his stories about some of America s greatest male writers This is a pretty larky read kind of like a compendium of yearbooks from a big drunk fraternity It s very what a life we led back in the day ho ho you shoulda seen it bet ya wish you d been there with a hint of do you think this is shocking well I can tell you the whole story but then I d have to kill you and a strong note of what a chore it was to live inside the golden tower of the mind you have no idea That s fine He obviously felt strong tender feelings for many of these fellows and felt strongly in other ways about others There s titillating little glimpses into Big Literary Lives Also it s pretty damn interesting to trace an arc in one man s life from getting Edward Albee s stories for Outside Magazine filed by pay phone outside a bar in Whattheheck Arizona to the multi platform business model of a digital age branded franchisexperience that is the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue Known to the insiders at Time Inc as Swimsuit but we the insiders at the inside of inside just called it Swim of course Also interesting no women A wife here and there Some lovelies in swimsuits Elaine from Elaine s but mainly men doing the manliest stuff That s the untold story right there Could tell it to you but you really don t want to know ARC courtesy Knopf via Vine programPages of a Life I only had three rules Terry McDonell writes of his career as an Baccarat : La lgende du cristal editor Force nothing Be clear You can always go deeper For all their brevity nine words arrayed in three sentences McDonell s rules highlight the chasm between serviceable stories and riveting ones In The Accidental Life An Editor s Notes on Writing and Writers he shares stories about stories There are moments of wryness and humor and self deprecation which may be what readersxpect You no doubt will recognize than a few names and will come away with some insightsBut the reason you need to read this book is to immerse yourself in McDonell s ability to lay bare the O Colégio de Todos os Segredos essence of anditor s life The blurring between career and self the certainty of change and the redemption that comes from work well doneMcDonell describes the high that comes when writer and subject mesh and the words flow and knowing you ve put the two together And sometimes that you ve coaxed the writer into piercing his soul just a bit for the additional details that make his words sing on the page McDonell describes this process with March Violets (Bernie Gunther, empathy The best writers all knew how to do that he writes You didn tdit into their pieces any than you Zoete tranen edited their sensibilities What you did was ask for detail Full disclosure this was a free ARC that arrived in the mail The cover letter simply said that I had won it and to be sure to add it to my shelf I may have won it in a Goodreads giveaway but I don t recallver receiving an Water Music email from them stating this though I vaguely recallntering the giveaway In any case I got it for free Receiving unexpected free books in the mail isn t really a problem so much as a lifelong dreamSo what about this book Stewart Well the subtitle describes it fairly accurately McDonell worked in the magazine industry for years both as writer and ditor including stints at Sports Illustrated Esuire Outside and Rolling Stone There are numerous anecdotes about people like Hunter Thompson Rick Reilly Jann Wenner George Plimpton Edward Abbey and This book has been dir. On how to get and keep the best writers; what makes a great lede and headline; how to style a cover that flies off newsstands whether or not there's a celebrity on it; how to build the online traffic that translates into dollars; and how in whatever format a good ditor really works From the storied past to today's tumultuous media landscape this is an incisive galvanizing account of the pressures joys and obsessions of a writing and diting li.

Terry McDonnell was a renowned Editor of 13 magazines over his career in the business Rolling Stone Esuire Sports Illustrated US before it became a weekly He meet pretty much very writer that there was Knew about all of them Played Acid Golf with Hunter S Thompson went fishing with Jim Harrison drank loads with George Plimpton It goes on But this really isn t too much about those xperiences Listening to him talk his craft from mastheads to ledes structural and physical layouts of a magazine to delegating whatever power to someone lse to getting the job to running a fucking mag that we all gawk at standing in line at the supermarket Very informative Highly recommend to those interested in pursuing the field or those who have and those not familiar with McDonnell s publishing mind Ugh Terry McDonell reminds me why I did not like so many people in literary circles in the 1970 s He is the original smart aleck and Love for Imperfect Things endlessly scores off the people who surround him in hopes that he will advance their writing career Double ugh Terry McDonell s The Accidental Life An Editor s Notes on Writing and Writers is insightful interesting blunt witty and packed with a selection from the A List of fiction and non fiction writers from the last handful of decadesScan the contents there you go and you ll get an idea of the wordsmiths McDonelldited during a colorful careerDo I have to list them It might fill this whole review Jim Harrison Ed Abbey Peter Matthiessen Tom McGuane Richard Ford James Salter Jan Wenner George Plimpton Hunter Thompson Richard Price I m scratching the surface Yes diversity factor is low On and onMcDonell s credits Try Sports Illustrated Men s Journal Rolling Stone He was A Heart of Stone editor in chief of Esuire There s also a stint at Newsweek and a magazine he started called Smart There s the fact that he was foundingditor of Outside and Rocky Mountain magazine Is that Taking Instruction (Taboo, enough No McDonell is a screenwriter and novelist tooThe title alone The Accidental Life gives you the sense that despite the bright credits McDonell does not think of himself as anything special Only a guy who cares about language Editing is about ideas but it is mechanical too You have to get under the hood of the language andditors use many tools One of those tools is word counts knowing the length of something you re about to read helps you understand its shape and pace he argues Thus the title of Language and Linguistics every piece is followed by the word length to comeMost writers like to overshoot their assigned word length No writer Iver Divertimento edited wanted to go short anyway Neither do I but I also know that the best pieces seem to find their own length That s the alchemy Reading The Accidental Life you hope some gold dust will fall on your keyboard just by reading about what it is like to work with all these feisty funky mostly inscrutable bunch of truth tellers You hope for some how to list of handy tips How todit How to reject How to know the right story to report and when How to cutWell not uite The Love Is a Fairy Tale editing nuggets are there They are in the mix But The Accidental Life is mostly stories about big time writers and McDonell s relationship with them Just a hunch but I think those relationships is where thediting begins Along the way McDonell riffs on photography headlines layout the changing nature of the business and what is like to be around Sports Illustrated during swimsuit season February and some of the jaw dropping numbers for sales when there is so much female skin on the coverThe Editing 101 stuff is there but McDonell deals out those bits around stories good ones of his celebrity writer pals Good Promise at Dawn editors like doctors develop a bedside manner Myditing was full of uestions all the same uestion really What is the story What s the point. From the legendary ditor journalist and publishing ntrepreneur a memoir about writers writing Bangkok Wakes to Rain editing and the fast paced high stakes life in the publishing business Over the last four decades Terry McDonell has been at the helm of some of the most influential beacons of American journalism from hisarly days at Outside through tenures at Rolling Stone Newsweek Esuire Sports Illustrated and most recently as cofounder of LitHub Now he tells us.

Of it What do these sentences mean Do they mean what you want them to mean What if I told you they read like walk ons in a Pirandello play This is from a brief The Right Sort of Man (Sparks Bainbridge Mystery entry Bibliomemoir More To diagnose is anxcellent verb for Darkmere editors to keep in mind But what are you trying to say Is not always anasy uestion and the story isn t always what the writer says it is I thought often about what it was like to read the writers I knew best how direct their prose seemed and how the work spoke for itself yet that made them Et si la maladie n'tait pas un hasard ? even mysterious It was that way with all of the writers whose work I loved McDonell celebrates certain passages and uotes them Whether fiction or non fiction he seemed to be on a uest for truth tellers whether the prose is fiction or non Sure there is a difference between what comes out of the imagination and the stories a reporter tells but McDonnell seems interested in both cases in sharp observers who don t flinch from hard truths It s a commitment to revealing the shadings and complexities of the human condition he writes in the Fiction NonfictionntryI only hope The Accidental Life isn t a reflection on what will be considered a golden age of journalism the second half of the 20th century and maybe the first decade or so of the 21st century before The Internets gutted the budgets of big city daily newspapers and magazinesMcDonell was there in the prime of magazine publishing limos fat Den of Shadows (Gamblers Den expense accounts and fatter advances These tidbits may be fantasy land for someone writing long form todayI m writing this on the day that The Denver Post announced yet another wallop to its newsroom staff another 30 staffers slashed from the newsroom down to 70 total reporters andditors it s hard to not think back to the day when we took steady streams of good daily journalism for granted And it s hard to imagine how many writers and reporters won t get a chance to develop their craft simply because the jobs aren t thereDo you write The Accidental Life is a must read Do you read Ditto Some suggest to read these Scraps Of The Untainted Sky entries at random I started at the front and read straight through glued the whole time and wanting to go back and pick up some old Jim Harrison stuff orarly Hunter S ThompsonGreat readFinal note I listened on audio James Culp s blunt punchy narration was terrific An Editor s Notes on Writing and Writers is the subtitle of Terry McDonell s memoir He calls it The Accidental Life because he began his career as a photographer Instead of following a straight path though as he describes it he tried writing a novel tried making a documentary film Nothing was working until he became a combination reportereditor at San Francisco Magazine In the years since he s worked on and The Eric Carle Gift Set edited some of the biggest magazines in America including Sports Illustrated Rolling Stone Esuire and Newsweek For me the chapters on writers are the most interesting parts of the book McDonell s accidentalditing life has allowed him to become friends with and swim in the same currents as some of America s best writers His material on them is richly anecdotal and honest He has many wonderful stories about Huguenot Prophecy and Clandestine Worship in the Eighteenth Century each about what it s like to spend time with them about how they approach writing particul I really wanted to like this book The insider stories of writers andditors is a great idea but instead of feeling Fashion Design Course excited to learn the inner workings of an industry I havembraced on a much smaller scale this book stirred my frustration Why Over his long and varied career the author worked with hundred of writers but this book is a boy s club with story after story of boorish behavior drinking drugs and too much Hunter S Thompson hasn t the cult of Hunter run its course A few women are highlighted as beautiful wives who put up with. What really happens between Aeralis (The Frost Chronicles, editors and writers behind the scenes and between the lines with deadlines ticking Here are intimate portraits of the most important and mostccentric journalists novelists and media personalities from Hunter S Thompson and George Plimpton to Richard Ford and James Salter; from David Carr and Steve Jobs to Jimmy Buffett and one remarkable Sports Illustrated swimsuit model And here is an insider's unimpeachable advice.

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