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Literary Types Find Love In 'The New York Review Of Books'

Feb 9, 2013
Originally published on February 9, 2013 12:11 pm

There are a lot of places these days to look for all kinds of love, especially online. But what's an aging intellectual who loves William Gass, Philip Glass and a good merlot to do?

The distinguished New York Review of Books celebrates its 50th anniversary this month. It is noted for its rigorous writing and stellar cerebral lit stars — and its personal ads.

For example: "ANTEDILUVIAN MARINER (M) seeks attractive coxswain (F) to put in at terra firma amidst coming torrents. Long-term relationship inevitable. Will steer clear of Mount Ararat in protest of Armenian genocide. Mont Blanc? Open to suggestions."

The magazine's associate publisher, Catherine Tice, tells NPR's Scott Simon that she doesn't know exactly what the reasoning was behind the decision to run personals. "But I do have the very first personal ad, from the July 11, 1968, issue. It's very succinct." And it is: "Wife wanted: intelligent, beautiful, 18 to 25, broad-minded, sensitive, affectionate. For accomplished artist and exciting life. NYR box 1432."

No word on whether the accomplished artist found his broad-minded and affectionate dream wife, but Tice says there have been some personal ad success stories. "We've been told of marriages and alliances of many kinds," she says. One woman said the responses to her ad "literally knocked my socks off."

Tice says the ads reflect an intellectually engaged and curious readership. "[They're] interested in politics and culture certainly, and the arts and science, and sort of unabashedly happy to state that they wish to share those things with others," along with descriptions of their looks. "If an armchair radical who's 25 seeks dialectical synthesis with street-credible jacobin female, must have nothing to lose but chains, absence of property a plus — I wonder who will please that fellow, but I imagine that there's a reader of The Review who will."


A Few Of Catherine Tice's Favorites

ONE-BREASTED WOMAN seeks one-armed man.

FRISKY COUGAR, 84, seeks dude, 72 to 76, share walks from parking lots to doctors' offices. Must like detailed descriptions of illnesses; enjoy matinee "naps"; daytime driving essential; relishes grandchildren's pictures. Limited flatulence, clacking teeth ok. Don't anticipate LTR.

PORTLY, HANDSOME MAN, 81 summers, some hair and teeth, ample supply blue pills; seeking 90+ foxy cougar, to snuggle under afghan, swap podiatry, colonoscopy, and dental stories; knowing "Hut-sut rawlson" and "Mairzy
 Doats" a plus. Large type for response.

SQUALID SYDNEY WOMBAT (M), striking natural dirty digger seeks beckoning, foxy NYC squirrel (F) for trans-Antipodean roo, pert exchanges, and postmodern "Murdoch-She-Wrote" contemplations of retrospectives in hot metal prints.

WORN-OUT HUSBAND, friend to his wife's nerves and father to five silly daughters (the two eldest excepted) for almost a quarter century, seeks wealthy, titled, childless widow of an unentailed estate for long walks across ha-ha's.

FANNIE MAE with troubled assets, bored with Freddie Mac, seeks well-regulated stimulus package from counterparty too big to fail. No cash for clunkers.

DISPROPORTIONATELY BLESSED GENERALISSMO, deposed by an ungrateful peasantry, languishes in luxurious tropical exile. Seeks a talented contortionist with low morals and high pain threshold for long-term relationship, satori, and maybe a little narco-crime on the side.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

There are lots of places these days to look for all kinds of love, especially online. But what's an aging intellectual who loves William Gass, Philip Glass, and a good merlot to do? The distinguished New York Review of Books celebrates its 50th anniversary this month. It is noted for its rigorous writing and stellar cerebral lit stars, and for its personal ads. For example:

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Antediluvian mariner seeks attractive coxswain to put in at terra firma amidst coming torrents. Long-term relationship inevitable. Will steer clear of Mount Ararat in protest of Armenian genocide. Mont Blanc? Open to suggestions."

SIMON: The New York Review's associate publisher Catherine Tice joins us. Thank you so much for being with us.

CATHERINE TICE: Thank you, Scott.

SIMON: Do you have any idea how the personals got started and was there some skepticism at first?

TICE: I don't know what the story was, but I do have the very first personal ad from the July 11th, 1968 issue. It's very succinct.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Wife wanted: intelligent, beautiful, 18 to 25, broad-minded, sensitive, affectionate. For accomplished artist and exciting life. NYR Box 1432.

SIMON: I had no idea my ad would wind up all these years later.

(LAUGHTER)

SIMON: Does it work? Do you have any indication?

TICE: We've had some success stories. We've been told of marriages and alliances, many kinds. I do have here, and this is a recent response. She says: The men who responded to the personal ad I placed in the New York Review of Books in 2012 have literally knocked my socks off. I wish there was a venue to spend a few hours with each to discover their fascinating background stories. I've communicated with correspondents and authors, international businessmen, financial experts and many others. There's no question that I have met and will continue to meet meaningful people through the NYRB.

SIMON: Does it say something about the New York Review, do you think?

TICE: I think that they reflect readership. Intellectually engaged, intellectually curious, interested in politics and culture certainly, and the arts and science, and sort of unabashedly happy to state that they wish to share those things with others. And that doesn't preclude more sort of quotidian descriptions of oneself as being tall or small or thin or fat or old or young.

If an armchair radical who's 25 seeks dialectical synthesis with street-credible jacobin female, must have nothing to lose but chains, absence of property a plus - I wonder who will please that fellow, but I imagine that there's a reader of the Review who will.

SIMON: Catharine Tice is associate publisher of the New York Review of Books. Happy anniversary. Thanks so much for being with us.

TICE: Thank you for having me, Scott.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG "CUPID")

SAM COOKE: (Singing) Cupid, draw back you bow, and let your arrow go...

SIMON: This is NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.