READING OUT OF MY GENRE: THE ACCIDENTAL LIFE by Terry McDonell: A Review

In a deliberate effort to read “more than just novels” this summer, I picked up McDonell’s 2016 collections of memories and recollections, (subtitle: An Editor’s Notes on Writing and Writers) from my local public library. The author shamelessly name-dropped (in a good way) sports figures names like Tiger Woods; authors like Hunter S. Thompson and Hemingway; and twentieth and twenty-first century celebs like Frank Sinatra, the Kennedys, Jack Nicholson, and Steve Jobs.  Most of his stories and recollections of meeting and working with these notables were fascinating.  I admit that I did not read every selection/chapter, for I knew nothing about some famous sportswriters or even about some of the literary “who’s who.”  Roy Blount, Jr. says on the back cover, “McDonell knew the wildest writers, edited most of them, and he remembers a great deal.” In his careers as editor at Esquire, Sports Illustrated, Gentlemen’s Quarterly (GQ), McDonell came face to face and often toe to toe with the eccentricities and demands of writers.  He was often “in on” plans for the next “big” undertaking of the writers, and his impressions were so accurate that he cold have been excused for saying, “I told you so.”

Tom Brokow called McDonell, “…one of the prominent editors in the world of popular magazines.” Interspersed with the author’s recollections about writers and editing magazines are helpful asides to authors and editors as well. Here is a writer who writes on writing and an editor who writes on editing. Overall, The Accidental Life is interesting and helpful, especially for magazine readers.

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Author: Rae Longest

This year marks my fiftieth year in AAUW (American Association of University Women). The Alvin chapter was begun in 1947, and as a new, green teacher to Alvin Independent School District, I joined in 1968. In the 80's we began a book group to share our love of reading, books,and fellowship with other women and girls who loved the same. We resurrected the group on-line in September of 2015. Eventually Powerful Women Readers folded as an on-line book club, but I kept the title and turned it into a blog. (See "Introduction,"first blog). This is my first experience at blogging or publishing anything and is becomes more fun with each blog posted. I am currently teaching as an adjunct at The University of Houston Clear Lake. This makes my 28th year there after three years at Alvin Community College and an almost-twenty year career as a classroom teacher with Alvin Independent School District. Reading and writing are "in my blood" just like teaching is. I hope you enjoy the blog.

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