Summer Read: 'The Receptionist'

August 01, 2012 | by —Jessica Ferri | Homepage

For 21 years, Janet Groth worked as the 18th floor receptionist at The New Yorker. From 1957 to 1978, she handled the office management of an assortment of contributing writers and editors, including the legendary editor in chief William Shawn.

Just out of college, Groth, a Midwestern girl, landed the job after an interview with none other than E.B. White. At her post she was privy to the comings and goings of some of the most famous writers of the time, including J.D. Salinger, James Thurber, Muriel Spark, and Joseph Mitchell. This was the pre-feminist era, and some of Groth’s struggles, including two ill-fated love affairs, are heart wrenching to read.

Eventually, she left The New Yorker and worked towards a Ph.D. in English literature. She is now a professor and scholar at the State University of New York in Plattsburgh. Released in late June, her aptly titled memoir, The Receptionist, is an inspirational summer read, perfect for those with literary interest or ambition. bookstores citywide

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