Boulder-based scribe Dan Baum has had a pretty distinguished writing career. The guy's byline has popped up in The Wall Street Journal, New York Times Magazine and Rolling Stone, among others, and his latest book, Nine Lives: Death and Life in New Orleans, made the New York Times' extended bestsellers list. (Learn more about Nine Lives in our March Q&A with Baum.) But his resume also includes one tidbit that raises a few awkward questions: He's a former staff writer for the New Yorker. How, exactly, did Baum end up losing one of the most rarified gigs in the whole writing biz?
Baum gets the question a lot, so he's decided to set the record straight - in 140-character chunks on his Twitter page.
He started the lengthy story last Friday (to find the beginning, click way, way down to his 10:46 a.m. posting on May 8), and he plans to wrap up the tale this morning. For journalists and non-journos alike, it's a compelling, voyeuristic read, from his descriptions of the New Yorker office -- one of the most fabled newsrooms around -- as a place that feels "like being in a hospital room where somebody is dying" to his assessment of why, exactly, New Yorker editor David Remnick called him in early 2007 to say he wouldn't be renewing his $90,000-a-year contract.
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Sure, there's a bit of insider-baseball wonkiness to the whole thing. But think of it like a Behind the Music segment with less sex and drugs and more copy editors.