How About Never—Is Never Good For You? New Yorker cartoons can be whimsical, smart, hoity-toity, profound, or inscrutable. And that conglomeration of adjectives is a good description for this chatty autohagiography, written…
Book Review

How About Never—Is Never Good For You?

HOW ABOUT NEVER-IS NEVER GOOD FOR YOU? Bob Mankoff
HOW ABOUT NEVER-IS NEVER GOOD FOR YOU? Bob Mankoff

New Yorker cartoons can be whimsical, smart, hoity-toity, profound, or inscrutable. And that conglomeration of adjectives is a good description for this chatty autohagiography, written by the magazine's longtime cartoon editor. Mankoff guides the reader through his life as a cartoonist, and his development of a distinctive stippled-line style. As memoir, it's a bit impersonal; whole marriages are reduced to a couple of lines. But by mixing his snappy-banter writing with actual New Yorker cartoons, Mankoff offers fascinating insight into the professional trials and artistic struggles of a cartoonist — and his own method of defining what, precisely, makes a New Yorker cartoon. Mankoff frequently indulges in my-brilliant-career navel-gazing: ''I may not have the best job in the world,'' he writes, ''but I'm in the running.'' It's a bold statement. And, as How About Never proves, highly accurate. B+

Originally posted Mar 19, 2014 Published in issue #1304 Mar 28, 2014 Order article reprints