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Just Enough Liebling: Classic Work by the…

Just Enough Liebling: Classic Work by the Legendary New Yorker Writer

by A. J. Liebling

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177467,048 (4.1)53

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There is “Never Enough Leibling!” says fellow Floridian Roger Miller of the St. Pete’s Times and I can only agree. These edited pieces are from his columns and books from the 30s until his early death in 1963. His experiences in “feeding” as he called his immense appetites for his gastrological adventures led to his most marvelous work, Between Meals (http://www.librarything.com/work/book/85431985) on Paris and its restaurants. In this book he references Marcel Proust crafting a book just from eating a madeline. Dismissing this merest morsel as a ’tea biscuit’ Leibling suggests that if Proust had eaten one of Leibling’s own luncheon of “a dozen oysters, a bowl of clam chowder, a peck of steamers, some bay scallops, three sautéed soft shell crabs, a few ears of fresh picked corn, a thin swordfish steak of generous area, a pair of lobsters, and a Long Island duck, he might have written a masterpiece”!

All the pieces in this volume, even when Leibling is at his most Damon Runyonesque … in fight stories and stories on the ‘heels and promoters’ of his well loved New York… are eminently readable and some, like his description of his transatlantic convoy crossing in a medium ‘dirty” tanker on his return from the war, are truly lyrical and leave the reader thirsting for more. In fact it is his reporting as a war correspondent, across the African and European fronts that grip the readers attention, they are brilliantly written and full of details that only an experienced reporter’s eye could have seen.

While he did not, like Hemmingway, recruit and arm a private army and race the rest of the Allies into Paris, Leibling got there as soon as he could and made the rounds of his ‘feeding’ spots in dread and reverence.

This book is very enjoyable feed indeed!
1 vote John_Vaughan | Jun 2, 2012 |
Last year I read Secret Ingredients, a compilation of food-related articles originally published in The New Yorker magazine. A few authors were particularly enjoyable: Calvin Trillin is a long-time favorite author and I'm well familiar with M. F. K. Fisher, but A. J. Liebling was an unknown to me prior to that book.

This book contains 26 of his articles and essays, divided into sections on dining in Paris, World War II, New York City, Boxing, the Press and politics in Louisianna. If you can imagine essays written by a beat reporter, that will give you some of the flavor of these pieces. They are funny and sophisticated, full of gusto for life, and not a little bit of self-regard: "...Fowler's Modern English Usage, a book I have never looked into. It would be like Escoffier consulting Mrs. Beeton (The author of the first modern cookbook)."

Was this "just enough" of Liebling? On the whole, I'd say yes. I wouldn't have minded a bit more on Paris and World War II; they were wonderful...while the attraction of a long excerpt about a con man ("from The Honest Rainmaker") and the Louisianna politics had faded by their respective ends. Overall, however, I really enjoyed these pieces. ( )
2 vote TadAD | Apr 9, 2009 |
Just Enough Liebling left me yearning for more! Abbott Joseph Liebling was an immensely engaging and skillful writer-journalist (and droll character) whose work is truly unparalleled. This volume provides just a sampling of his writing -- on subjects ranging from dining in Paris to World War II to boxing -- most of which were originally published in The New Yorker. Only wish I could give it 6 stars! ( )
1 vote Imprinted | Oct 8, 2007 |
What can you say about Liebling? He is one of the finest essayists I know, whose sense of character, scale, and humor are nearly unparalleld. His style is very essentially New Yorker, done to perfection. ( )
1 vote alamosweet | Dec 28, 2006 |
Showing 4 of 4
He has never been a war correspondent; he has never written about boxing, or chronicled the lives and customs of grifters and con men. And though Lemann is said to be an excellent cook, just from looking at him you know that he is hardly a trencherman of Lieblingesque appetite and amplitude. No one is anymore. Liebling's idea of a good lunch was as follows: ''raw Bayonne ham and fresh figs, a hot sausage in crust, spindles of filleted pike in a rich rose sauce Nantua, a leg of lamb larded with anchovies, artichokes on a pedestal of foie gras, and four or five kinds of cheese, with a good bottle of Bordeaux and one of Champagne.''
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374104433, Hardcover)

The restaurants of the Latin Quarter and the city rooms of midtown Manhattan; the beachhead 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 to us in his unforgettable New Yorker articles, brought together here so that a new generation of readers might discover Liebling as if for the first time.

Born a hundred years ago, Abbott Joseph "Joe" Liebling was the first of the great New Yorker writers, a colorful and tireless figure who helped set the magazine's urbane style. Today, he is best known as a celebrant of the "sweet science" of boxing or as a "feeder" who ravishes the reader with his descriptions of food and wine. But as David Remnick, a Liebling devotee, suggests in his fond and insightful introduction, Liebling was a writer bounded only by his intelligence, taste, and ardor for life. Like his nemesis William Randolph Hearst, he changed the rules of modern journalism, banishing the distinctions 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 confidence men, rogues, press barons and political cronies, with an inimitable writer as one's guide.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:30 -0400)

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