Just Enough Liebling Classic Work by the Legendary New Yorker Writer

A.J. Liebling; Introduction by David Remnick

North Point Press



Trade Paperback

560 Pages



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The restaurants of the Latin Quarter and the city rooms of Manhattan; the beachheads of Normandy and the boxing gyms of Times Square; the trackside haunts of bookmakers and the shadowy redoubts of Southern politicians—these are the places that A. J. Liebling shows us in his unforgettable New Yorker articles, brought together here so that a new generation of readers might discover him for the first time.

Born a hundred years ago, Abbott Joseph "Joe" Liebling was one of the greatest of all New Yorker writers, a colorful figure who helped set the magazine's urbane tone and style. Today he is best known as a celebrant of the "sweet science" of boxing, and as a "feeder" who ravishes the reader with his descriptions of food and wine. But as David Remnick observes in his fond and insightful introduction, Liebling "is boundlessly curious, a listener, a boulevardier, a man of appetites and sympathy"—and a writer who, with his great friend and colleague Joseph Mitchell, deftly traversed the boundaries between reporting and storytelling, between news and art. Whatever his role, Liebling is a most companionable figure, and to read the pieces in this grand and generous book is to be swept along on a thrilling adventure in a world of rogues, press barons, and political cronies, with an inimitable writer as one's guide.


Praise for Just Enough Liebling

"A.J. Liebling's appetites were as ample as his frame, and this bulging collection of three decades of his writings for The New Yorker provides a lavish banquet for reader."—Jamy Ian Swiss, New York Post

"As Just Enough Liebling proves, [Liebling] sounds as fresh and irreverent today as he did nearly fifty years ago."—Allen Barra, San Francisco Chronicle

"A.J. Liebling wrote memorably about anything that interested, offended, or amused him: from Connecticut cockfights to the D-Day landing, from French cuisine to Belmont oddsmakers, from Times Square gyms to the myths of Henry Luce to the blood sports of Louisiana politics and Nevada Mustang buzzing. And he did it all in a wonderfully digressive voice that no one can copy without making a fool of himself."—Nathan Ward, The New York Sun

"Liebling hit all the right notes, blending a wised-up, unsentimental attitude toward the culture and business of prizefighting with a profound attention for and understanding of boxing's craft."—James Surowiecki, Bookforum

"A.J. Liebling was one of those writers whose sophistication, versatility, elegant prose style and fascination with everything under the sun shaped The New Yorker in its classic era."—The Washington Post

"To read A. J. Liebling now is an unbearable pleasure . . . Just Enough Liebling is a witty but provocative title—count on it, you are going to want much more."—David Thomson, The Nation

"Pound for pound the top boxing writer of all time."—Sports Illustrated

"Liebling invented, almost from scratch, the journalistic genre of literary press critic . . . [His] literary vision is too hard to imitate, and it's hard to imagine someone else trumping it."—Jack Shafer, Slate

"A. J. Liebling wrote memorably about anything that interested, offended, or amused him, from Connecticut cockfights to the D-Day landing . . . And he did it all in a wonderfully digressive voice that no one can copy without making a fool of himself . . . Literature written on deadline, perched memorably between the novelists writing for posterity and the newspaper boys banging it out for the next edition."—Nathan Ward, The New York Sun

"The writing is as fresh and engaging as the day it was set down on paper . . . The title should be Never Enough Liebling."—Roger K. Miller, St. Petersburg Times

"No amount of Liebling is ever enough. He had a raptor's eye, a virtuoso's ear, and an enormous heart. He was wildly funny and frequently profound, and he may well have been the greatest American prose stylist of the twentieth century."—Luc Sante, author of Low Life

"Liebling, it's now apparent, is not just one of the great American reporters but one of the great American writers, whose baroque sentences continue to twist and turn and soar to our delight and instruction, his high and hyperbolic comic constructions glinting in the light of his first-rate and empirical intelligence. Just Enough Liebling is a necessary purchase for anyone who cares about American style."—Adam Gopnik, author of Paris to the Moon

"All great city reporting begins in the general vicinity of the little desks that pack Liebling's Jollity Building, and now that I've revisited all those airless offices and always-manned phone booths yet again, I'm afraid that it probably ends there too."—Robert Sullivan, author of Rats

"Liebling glorified gluttony not only by indulging in great food in great amounts, but in consuming in great detail the events of his time, the high life, low life, people at peace and war, prizefighters in the ring and on the political stump. In the late 1950s I had a job in the Times' sports dept., and what I most looked forward to seeing while attending big fights was the figure of Liebling at the ringside, squeezed into a folding chair, squinting through those thick glasses out through the cigar smoke and missing nothing."—Gay Talese

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  • A.J. Liebling; Introduction by David Remnick

  • A. J. Liebling, born October 18, 1904, joined the staff of The New Yorker in 1935 and contributed innumerable articles before his death in 1963.

    David Remnick is the editor of The New Yorker.