S.I. Newhouse’s contentious appointment of Robert Gottlieb as the editor of The New Yorker in 1987, and what Gottlieb did to bring the magazine into a new era:

“Orlean was an early Gottlieb-era hire. ‘She came in off the street,’ said McGrath, her Talk of the Town editor (though, she noted, Gottlieb was often her second reader). ‘She came into my office and, in the space of a twenty-minute conversation, she had about a hundred ideas for stories, and about eighty of them were good.’

“Orlean laughed about this. ‘By the standards of The New Yorker I was being brought in off the street. I had a book contract; I was writing for Rolling Stone and The Boston Globe, so that’s hilarious. That’s so classic of The New Yorker to feel that if you weren’t at The New Yorker you were essentially homeless and living hand-to-mouth on crap.’

“‘When I got there the mood was not very nice,’ she said. Orlean was unusual among New Yorker writers, most of whom, she said, had spent their careers at the magazine and hadn’t written for other publications. ‘It’s a little bit like, I wasn’t a virgin, and more typically people came to The New Yorker as virgins. They came into their adulthood there.’ The place was cliquey, she said, but that has since dissipated, in no small part because Gottlieb brought in so many writers who ‘weren’t born in the manger.’ At this point, ‘that aristocratic, inbred feel—that if you weren’t there from birth you didn’t deserve to be there—has really dissolved.’”