Magazines: The Whisperer

"And suddenly, after 40 years, it all adds up," began the ad for the Herald Tribune Sunday magazine last week. "Whispering, inconspicuous—formal, efficient—but precisely the perfect qualifications for a museum custodian, an undertaker, a mortuary scientist. Thirteen years ago, upon the death of Harold Ross, precisely that difficult task befell William Shawn: to be the museum curator, the mummifier, the preserver-in-amber, the smiling embalmer—for Harold Ross's New Yorker magazine."

Breaking the Rules. If some readers had a hard time following the meaning of this convoluted prose, one reader grasped it immediately. The man described in the ad as the "embalmer"...

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