Book Reviews - Spring 2020

Poet of the Newsroom

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A journalist with the unteachable gift of making you read on

By Henry Allen | March 2, 2020
Carr collapsed and died in the newsroom of <em>The New York Times</em> in 2015.
Carr collapsed and died in the newsroom of The New York Times in 2015. "He wrote with the hard facticity of an AA meeting." (Jill Rooney Carr)

Final Draft: The Collected Work of David Carr, edited by Jill Rooney Carr; Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 400 pp., $28

Nearly a century ago, Stanley Walker, city editor of the New York Herald Tribune, was a living legend of journalism, a hard-eyed Texan who wrote about the speakeasies and ruckus of New York City. He foretold the future of other living legends in his beloved newspaper business, which is to say the prizes you get and the prices you pay for spending a gritty life in a gritty newsroom.

To wit: in the 1920s, Walker wrote,

What makes a good newspaperman? The answer is easy. He knows everything. … He can go for nights on end without sleep. … Men admire him; women adore him. … He hates lies, meanness and sham but keeps his temper. … When he dies, a lot of people are sorry, and some of them remember him for several days.

A few generations later, the legend in question would be the gritty David Carr, author of this posthumous collection of journalism, Final Draft, assembled by his widow, Jill Rooney Carr. It is his second book.

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