Janet Coleman worked at the NYR from 1963 to 1966. She is the author of The Compass: The Improvisational Theater That Revolutionized American Comedy and (with Al Young) Mingus/Mingus: Two Memoirs. She is one of playwright/director Richard Maxwell’s New York City Players and, for Pacifica Radio, a producer and host. She is writing a biography of Viola Spolin, the creator of theater games.
The Fisk Building had a stolid utilitarian look, like one of Ben Katchor’s cartoon office buildings, and was surrounded by automobile showrooms, at the dowdy end of West 57th Street. New York was paradise. You took a 57th Street Cafeteria bagel on a shortcut through the Yangtze River Restaurant, passing the wonton wrapper, to an elevator crammed with other smokers, to the thirteenth floor where The New York Review had an office like a detective agency in a film noir. I arrived in December 1963, before the NYR had been on the newsstands a year. I was twenty-one.