Walter Kerr, Bennet Cerf, Edward Weeks and Bernard Baruch

Tuesday, October 22, 1957

This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.

Irita Van Doren introduces theater critic Walter Kerr to discuss his book "Pieces at Eight." Kerr charms the audience with his self-deprecating humor (as well as several jokes about his wife). He speaks about the current difficulties of selling low-priced seats - and his thesis that the theater is supported by a relatively small patronage of individuals willing to pay for high priced tickets. He believes that the theater should be made popular to the mass audience, while striving for a high standard.

Kerr strongly believes that a diverse audience - which includes the popular and patron classes will force the production of a masterpiece, a great demand on the playwright. He speaks of the higher standards of his readers, and the many letters he receives that express shock that he enjoyed a show that they found so disagreeable.

The next speaker is Bennett Cerf, author of "Reading for Pleasure." He dismisses the notion that people have stopped reading books in favor of watching television. He jokes about all of the past "menaces" to reading - including trolley cars and bicycles.

The next speaker is Edward A. Weeks, editor of The Atlantic Monthly. The magazine is about to celebrate it's centennial anniversary, and for which a volume of 128 articles will be published, titled Jubilee. Weeks' speech highlights some of the great and unknown authors who had appeared in the magazine over the century.

The final author is Bernard Baruch, who speaks of his autobiography "Baruch: My Own Story."

Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection

WNYC archives id: 70960
Municipal archives id: LT7743

Hosted by:

Irita Taylor Van Doren


Bernard M. Baruch, Bennett Cerf, Walter Kerr and Edward Weeks


More in:

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.


About Books and Authors Luncheon

Hear, first-hand, the thoughts and voices of some of the greatest thinkers, adventurers, and characters of our nation.

Legendary New York Herald-Tribune book review editor Irita Van Doren, moderator of the series [1949-1968], has an intellectual largesse and a genuine interest in the American literary arts, which produces engaging, sometimes off-beat discussions with both first-time and veteran authors. 

In addition to literary writers like Louis Auchincloss, James Michener, and Rachel Carson, listeners are enthralled by nonliterary experts speaking on their autobiographies.  Sammy Davis, Jr., expounds on Yes, I Can!; burlesque star Gypsy Rose Lee entertains audiences while promoting Gypsy, A Memoir; and sociologist Vance Packard defends his groundbreaking exposé on advertising, The Hidden Persuaders. 

Those notable personalities join a slew of others like Steve Allen, Marian Anderson, Bennett Cerf, Noel Coward, Jules Feiffer, Edna Ferber, A. E. Hotchner, Fannie Hurst, Jane Jacobs, Somerset Maugham, Vladimir Nabokov, Gore Vidal, Jessamyn West, and Marguerite Young.  An indispensable catalog of craft talk and biographical context, the New York Herald-Tribune Books and Authors Luncheon series explores all manner of disciplines and issues in American arts and history.


Supported by