An Honorable Estate by Louis Decimus, Jr. Rubin
My Time in the Working Press

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Synopsis

In his delightful new memoir, Louis Rubin takes us back to the days when Coca-Colas were called "dopes" and the newspaper business was still a young man's best entree to the world of letters. Rubin brings to life the newsroom of the 1940s and the 1950s and makes real the seductive lures of the low-paying but exciting work of the reporter. And ultimately, this consummate man of words discloses why he left the career he had pursued since the age of ten, when he produced his first newspaper using carbon copies.

In AN HONORABLE ESTATE, Rubin conjures the newsrooms of his youth, complete with lead slugs and the tangy smell of printing ink. He sketches the changing cast of characters of his early career: friendly police sergeants and vindictive fire captains from the local beat; middle-aged copyeditors with odd mannerisms and bad luck at the racetrack; and the very best and worst of people working as reporters and editors at papers large and small.

His unswerving historical perspective and faultless prose are on display throughout. By turns funny and profound, Rubin describes the sticky situations that arise from writing editorials and examines the reasons behind his reporting choices and job changes. He is utterly forthright about his career missteps, his nostalgia for a South that never was, and the evolution of his views on desegregation-views that landed him at odds with his brilliant conservative friend and one-time boss James Kilpatrick.

Guiding this remarkable reminiscence is Rubin's desire to work out why, in his thirties, he relinquished his lifelong ambition to be a daily journalist-a profession he continues to admire mightily-and what this says about his temperment and capabilities. Anyone interested in the Golden Age of journalism or considering a career in the Fourth Estate, and all who admire Rubin's extraordinary storytelling gift, will relish this account of the birth and metamorphosis of a writing life.

 

About Louis Decimus, Jr. Rubin

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Born in Charleston, South Carolina, Louis D. Rubin, Jr., retired as University Distinguished Professor of English in 1989 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The Founder of Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, he served as publisher and editorial director until 1991. Rubin has written and edited forty-eight books, the most recent being Seaports of the South: A Journey; Babe Ruth's Ghost and Other Historical and Literary speculations; The Heat of the Sun; and The Quotable Baseball Fanatic. He lives in Chapel Hill.
 
Published September 1, 2001 by Louisiana State University Press. 216 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Education & Reference, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

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A century ago, says Rubin, there were 1,967 dailies in the US, and for someone who wanted “a way to work with words,” professional journalism offered “an ocean of possibilities.” This, Rubin explains, was in a time when newspaper work could be a way to move into a life of writing, even into a lif...

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Publishers Weekly

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The dream he had of journalism unravels and he uses the threads to weave a new dream for himself based on the realization that "When I am not writing, nothing else suffices."Anyone with a nostalgic yearning for journalism's recent past, and any budding journalist eager to learn what the life was ...

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