A.J. LIEBLING (1904–63) was a free-range journalist for the New Yorker from 1935 until his death. He got his reportorial education at the Providence Journal and the New York World and his sensibility from the Manhattan of his childhood and a year in France as a student. His prose style he pulled out of books and the yammer at the cigar store and thin air. He wrote about street life at first, sharing the beat with his friend Joseph Mitchell, and then he expanded to boxing and horse racing and saloons — and food. Brilliantly, the New Yorker sent him to cover the European theater in World War Two, and the unathletic Liebling rose to the challenge heroically, following the troops on the ground from the North African campaign to the liberation of Paris. All of his interests infiltrated his assignments; he found chiselers, promoters, and fourflushers wherever he went — as well as great food and exhilarating turns of phrase uttered by preoccupied citizens. His 1961 account of Earl Long’s career as governor of the Crescent State, The Earl of Louisiana, is his crowning achievement: a dark comedy of banana-republic local politics featuring advanced histrionics and virtuoso cartoon oratory. Liebling was one of history’s great noticers, and he had an ear like they make maybe once a century. And he was funnier than hell.
HILO HERO ITEMS by LUC SANTE: Dashiell Hammett | Pancho Villa | James M. Cain | Georges Bataille | Félix Fénéon | Émile Henry | A.J. Liebling | Jim Thompson | Joe Hill | Nestor Makhno | Hans Magnus Enzensberger | Captain Beefheart | William Burroughs | Ring Lardner | Lee “Scratch” Perry | Serge Gainsbourg | Kathy Acker | Arthur Cravan | Weegee | Alexander Trocchi | Ronnie Biggs | George Ade | Georges Darien | Zo d’Axa | Petrus Borel | Blaise Cendrars | Alexandre Jacob | Constance Rourke | Damia | J-P Manchette | Jean-Paul Clebert | Pierre Mac Orlan | Comte De Lautreamont | Robert Desnos | Arthur Rimbaud |
READ MORE about men and women born on the cusp between the Hardboiled (1894-1903) and Partisan (1904-13) Generations.