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Lance Morrow, The Noise of Typewriters: Remembering Journalism and Roger Rosenblatt, Cataract Blues: Running the Keyboard

Thursday, October 26, 2023 - 6:00 PM | Members' Room | open to the public | $15 per person | registration required

Two of America’s master essayists, Roger Rosenblatt and Lance Morrow, discuss the art of the essay and the state of American journalism, then and now. The two have been colleagues and friends for forty-odd years, since the days when their work appeared, in alternate weeks, on TIME magazine’s Essay page. Rosenblatt went on to become an essayist on the PBS Newshour and the award-winning author of 21 books. His latest is a brilliant meditation called Cataract Blues: Running the Keyboard. Morrow, winner of the National Magazine Award for his articles at TIME, now writes essays for the Wall Street Journal and City Journal. His new book is The Noise of Typewriters: Remembering Journalism - partly a memoir and partly a chronicle of some of the extraordinary characters who produced magazines and newspapers in the bygone age of typewriters. The conversation will be moderated by Jim Kelly, former managing editor of TIME.

Lance Morrow is an American essayist whose op-ed articles regularly appear in the Wall Street Journal. He is the Henry Grunwald Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, DC. For many years, he was an essayist for TIME magazine. He is a winner of the National Magazine Award and the author of ten books.

The Noise of Typewriters is, among other things, an intensely personal study of an age that has all but vanished. Morrow is the son of two journalists who got their start covering Roosevelt and Truman. Here are striking profiles of Henry Luce, TIME’s founder, and of Dorothy Thompson, Claud Cockburn, Edgar Snow, Joseph and Stewart Alsop, Joan Didion, Norman Mailer, Otto Friedrich, Michael Herr, and other notable figures in a golden age of print journalism that ended with the coming of television, computers, and social media. The Noise of Typewriters is the vivid portrait of an era.

Roger Rosenblatt is the author of five New York Times Notable Books of the Year, and three Times bestsellers, including the memoirs Kayak Morning, The Boy Detective, and Making Toast. His newest book is Cataract Blues: Running the Keyboard, and he has also written seven off-Broadway plays. Recently retired as Distinguished Professor of English and Writing at SUNY Stony Brook/Southampton, he previously held the Briggs-Copeland appointment in creative writing at Harvard. Among his honors are a 2023 Guggenheim Fellowship, the Kenyon Review Award for Lifetime Literary Achievement, two George Polk Awards; the Peabody, and the Emmy, for his essays at Time magazine and on PBS; and the President's Medal from the Chautauqua Institution for his body of work.

In his latest book, Rosenblatt charts a journey that is as visual as it is poetic. Cataract Blues, on the surface, is a collection of lyric fragments illustrated by the legendary Jules Feiffer. A careful reading (and viewing) rewards bibliophiles (and optical aficionados) with a nuanced, thoughtful, and magical paper machine that is about seeing, cataracts, mystery, the blues, insight, love, and memory. At once a masterpiece of creative non-fiction and a poetic experiment, ‘Blues invites readers to consider new approaches to the visual and the literary.