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A cautionary tail
July 14, 2008 5:04 PM   Subscribe

The end of Moore’s influence came when, years later, she tried to block the publication of a book by E. B. White. Watching Moore stand in the way of “Stuart Little,” White’s editor, Ursula Nordstrom, remembered, was like watching a horse fall down, its spindly legs crumpling beneath its great weight.

Although librarians don't come out all that well in this story, archivists figure quite heroically in the author's sidebar on her research into the saga.
posted by Horace Rumpole (30 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
Apparently metafilter.com now redirects you to newyorker.com.
posted by the bricabrac man at 5:14 PM on July 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


Apparently metafilter.com now redirects you to newyorker.com.

Are you experiencing a bug or was that an attempt at a joke?
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 5:17 PM on July 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Ah, I see that the post below this links to the new yorker as well. Joke it is.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 5:20 PM on July 14, 2008


Apparently metafilter.com now redirects you to newyorker.com.

Perhaps, but this was a fantastic story. If only all New Yorker posts were this good.
posted by skammer at 5:28 PM on July 14, 2008


Interesting link, thanks.
posted by tkolar at 5:29 PM on July 14, 2008


Wow, does that site have the worst cartoons on it, or what?
posted by interrobang at 5:33 PM on July 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


In 1896, Anne Carroll Moore was given the task of running just such an experiment, the Children’s Library of the Pratt Institute, in Brooklyn...

Said institution to be featured eighty-two years later in the groundbreaking juvenile classic 'Debbie Does Dallas.'

On the other hand, the New Yorker offices were featured in 'Bright Lights, Big City,' so I'm not sure who got the worse end of things.
posted by Kinbote at 5:46 PM on July 14, 2008


A very interesting article.
posted by sonic meat machine at 5:48 PM on July 14, 2008


I love children's lit, and therefore this. Katharine Angell went to my small college, so I picked up an interest in her career.

Poor Miss Moore! She reminds me of Salieri. Or perhaps a discarded first wife of the publishing industry. I loved E.B. White's work, too, but I have a soft spot for the Margaret Hamiltons of the world.
posted by Countess Elena at 5:48 PM on July 14, 2008


I was just trying to listen to the related podcast, but it sounds all bubbly.

Ursula Nordstrom was a fascinating figure, by the way. I highly recommend Dear Genius, a book of her letters to children's book authors and illustrators.
posted by Powerful Religious Baby at 5:50 PM on July 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


"Wow, does that site have the worst cartoons on it, or what?"

Christ, what an asshole.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 5:59 PM on July 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


From the wikipedia article about Stuart Little: "The reason for the book's abrupt ending was White's hypochondria. He thought he was going to die soon, so he ended the book in order to get it published before his death (which was actually 40 years after the book's publication)."

Thanks for the article, HR! One of my favorite books as a kid. I should read it again to drive the memory of the movie-version back out of my brain.
posted by not_on_display at 6:02 PM on July 14, 2008


Having just scanned the FPP, when I went into this thread I thought we were gonna be talking about Michael Moore. You can imagine my disappointment.
posted by ZachsMind at 6:03 PM on July 14, 2008


Having just scanned the FPP, when I went into this thread I thought we were gonna be talking about Alan Moore. You can imagine my relief.
posted by hal9k at 6:29 PM on July 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Wow, does that site have the worst cartoons on it, or what?

"The pig says 'my wife is a slut'?"
posted by delmoi at 6:30 PM on July 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Swear to god - my first thought was 'Dudley Moore.' You can imagine something something.
posted by skammer at 6:37 PM on July 14, 2008


I thought it was going to be about Roger Moore. You can imagine the jet ski chase.
posted by dirigibleman at 6:49 PM on July 14, 2008


Thanks for this, Mr. Rumpole. Here on the second bay to the east of E. B. White's one-time summer home, we are so overrun by New Yorkers (and other tourists) at the moment that — guiding two different boat tours — I don't have time to check out The New Yorker. So I would have missed that splendid story.

I loved the part about the librarian 'censoring' a book by sitting on it so no one would know it was in the library. (Much nicer than burning it, I suppose.)
posted by LeLiLo at 6:49 PM on July 14, 2008


Great post. Stuart Little was my favorite book at a kid and is still in my top twenty. Or maybe ten. The abrupt ending was the best part; that he left Stuart open to future adventures but never detailed them, was inspiring as hell. That last line, "But the sky was bright, and he somehow felt he was headed in the right direction. ", made everything seem possible.
posted by octothorpe at 7:23 PM on July 14, 2008


I highly recommend Dear Genius, a book of her letters to children's book authors and illustrators.

It is, indeed, fantastic. I still giggle thinking about the letter she composed to one colleague, which ran along the lines, "I thought I should warn you an enemy of yours is trying to ruin your reputation by sending appalling letters to me and signing your name."
posted by rodgerd at 7:44 PM on July 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Fascinating. I think the argument over what is or isn't suitable within the realm of "children's literature" is hardly settled; I sometimes wonder whether Anne Carroll Moore's view -- all toothless whimsy, no "fangs" -- isn't the dominant one today. At the very least it's a bit too soon to declare it defeated.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:48 PM on July 14, 2008


Thanks for making an FPP of this - I mentioned it here but I was kind of sad to see such a great article lost in all the Obama cover frenzy.
posted by naoko at 7:51 PM on July 14, 2008


If I were to start codifying a pantheon of gods, E.B. White would be on the short list for an elder role.
Thank you, Horace Rumpole, for pointing this out, and hooray for archivists, who often keep librarians honest.
posted by Hadroed at 8:11 PM on July 14, 2008


I thought it was going to be about T. H. White, you can imagine the anachronisms...
posted by 445supermag at 8:29 PM on July 14, 2008


Apparently metafilter.com now redirects you to newyorker.com.

The New Yorker is stealing my site.
posted by Opposite George at 9:02 PM on July 14, 2008


Thanks, H. Rumpole. The fact that Anne Carroll Moore panned Charlotte's Web says more about her than the book, although to be fair she deserves great credit for advancing children's libraries everywhere.
posted by longsleeves at 10:24 PM on July 14, 2008


Alan Moore?
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:57 AM on July 15, 2008


And people ask me why I don't want to work in public libraries?
posted by aldus_manutius at 8:01 AM on July 15, 2008


This article made me sad. It's such a shame when someone who starts out as inspired and helpful and revolutionary as A. C. Moore can all of a sudden get stuck in a stubborn problem and end up so wrong with her reputation ruined.

I think this happens a lot in politics, too. Off the top of my head, I am thinking of Nader...
posted by rmless at 8:58 AM on July 15, 2008


I could see an editor sending it back and demanding an ending. (And talk about Chekov's gun: at one point Stuart gets a freakin' invisible car which he never uses. That really bugged me.)

But her actual reasons mentioned in the article for not wanting to publish it? Lame.

But it sure is a weird book. Not very much like Trumpet of the Swan or Charlotte's Web. I wish he'd had time to really finish it.
posted by straight at 2:27 PM on July 15, 2008


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