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Nation & World

For Writer Lillian Ross, the Story's in the Details

Writer Lillian Ross joined the staff at The New Yorker in 1945, and is one of the few writers who boasts the disinction of having worked for all five editors since the magazine's inception. Her work has been compiled in several books, including Talk Stories (1966), Takes (1983) and Reporting (1964). She discusses her work with Steve Inskeep.

Ross' profiles of famous people include rich details that bring the subject alive on the page. Ernest Hemingway liked to talk in broken English. During a conversation at dusk, Hollywood director John Huston deliberately left off the lights as if arranging a shot in his own film noir.

Ross began an article on Charlie Chaplin by describing him in the Plaza hotel, fretting over some soiled laundry.

"That's what he was," said Ross. "He was uneasy, uncomfortable in social situations. He didn't walk around with money. Using all these little minute details really revealed the person."

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