Tuesday, January 03, 2023

Robert Caro's editor comes out to take his curtain call

If, like me, you've been waiting years for the fifth and final volume of Robert Caro's Lyndon Johnson biography the announcement of the release of "Turn Every Page" can only be taken as a hopeful sign.

It's a documentary about the relationship between Caro and his editor Robert Gottlieb, who can also boast that he has been the midwife of such trifles as "Catch 22", that he's edited both John Le Carre and Len Deighton, Toni Morrison as well as Doris Lessing, no end of Presidents and hyper-temperamental bigwigs and is also presumably the only person in the world who really knows how Bob Dylan's "Chronicles" came to be.

Gottlieb's ninety-one and still working. Caro's a mere eighty-five.

I can't wait, which is an expression use far too freely these days. My guess is we'll come out of it rooting for the editor.

July 26th, 1966 was the day when football first became compulsory

According to Two Brothers by Jonathan Wilson, when Bobby and Jack Charlton were both playing for England in the semi-finals of the 1966 World Cup, their father Robert Charlton, who had no interest in football, was at work. He was that kind of man. 

When David Coleman heard that he’d missed the match he made sure that Dad was sent a tape and the means to play it on. 

If he had been bothered he would have been there. But no, he couldn't be permitted his one quiet, very Northern display of independence. Presumably Robert then had to dutifully sit down and give the impression of being excited by something which, frankly, he could take or leave. 

Even to this day nothing offends a broadcaster more than the idea of somebody not sharing the excitement they are professionally obliged to whip up.