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Lecture

Terry McDonell, The Accidental Life: An Editor’s Notes on Writing and Writers

- Fully Registered

Wednesday, April 26, 2017 - 6:30 PM
| Open to the Public | Members' Room | $15 per person | Advance registration required

You might not know Terry McDonell, but you certainly know his work: he has served as top editor for Outside, Rolling Stone, Esquire, and Sports Illustrated, among others. In this revealing memoir, McDonell talks about what really happens when editors and writers work with deadlines ticking (or drinks on the bar). His stories about the people and personalities he’s known are both heartbreaking and bitingly funny—playing “acid golf” with Hunter S. Thompson, practicing brinksmanship with David Carr and Steve Jobs, working the European fashion scene with Liz Tilberis, or pitching TV pilots with Richard Price.

Here, too, is an expert’s practical advice on how to recruit—and keep—high-profile talent; what makes a compelling lede; how to translate online traffic into dollars; how, in whatever format, on whatever platform, a good editor really works; and what it takes to write well. Taking us from the raucous days of New Journalism to today’s digital landscape, McDonell argues that the need for clear storytelling from trustworthy news sources has never been stronger.

Jeffrey Eugenides says, “Every time I run into Terry, I think how great it would be to have dinner with him. Hear about the writers he’s known and edited over the years, what the magazine business was like back then, how it’s changed and where it’s going, inside info about Edward Abbey, Jim Harrison, Annie Proulx, old New York, and the Swimsuit issue. That dinner is this book.”

Terry McDonell has won numerous awards for his editorial work at magazines and websites. He is also a novelist and poet and has written and produced for film and television. In 2012 he was inducted into the American Society of Magazine Editors’ Hall of Fame. He is the president of the board of the Paris Review Foundation and serves on the Board of Overseers of the Columbia Journalism Review.

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