How excited was I, a wannabe New Yorker, to read Janet Groth’s “The Receptionist: An Education at the New Yorker?”
So excited I bought it the week before it came out and couldn’t wait to wake up and have it waiting for me on my Kindle Fire the day it was released.
I mean, just look at the fabulous cover, which has the best skyline in the world, the bun with the pencil in it, the font … it practically screams that it’ll divulge secrets from The New Yorker for cripe’s sake!
Giddy. I. Was. Giddy. With. Excitement.
And then I started reading it.
Excitement gave way to disgust. I agree when the LA Times wrote that Groth comes across as “an ingenue” – and felt annoyance at how men found her a “blonde babe” as she spent her 21 years on the 18th floor of the legendary magazine.
Mostly tales of her love life and extended jaunts to Europe, there’s no real depth to “The Receptionist,” no real meat of what life was really like as a long-time receptionist at the publication. Even recalling a meeting with the one and only Dorothy Parker was written as flip as flip can be. Plus, Groth talks down to her readers – people like me who probably bought into the “secrets of The New Yorker” sales pitch that surrounded the book.
She came across – at all times – as highly snooty, which I guess is to be expected what with it being The New Yorker, but c’mon. She did not need to come across so condescending as she did, especially considering she spent more than two decades as a receptionist in the same department save for a brief transfer to the art department.
Maybe that sounds catty, but allow me to cite a passage where she says, and I quote:
“Evan’s misquote of Noel Coward put an end once and for all to my sleeping with him. How could I ever go to bed with someone who not only misquoted Coward but could
dis the song Ingrid was humming just before she said, ‘Play it, Sam?'”
And that wasn’t even the worst of it. I feel so let down, and methinks it’s safe to say that “The Receptionist” is No. 1 on the Books I Wish I Didn’t Read list.
Did you read this? What were your thoughts?