Solotaroff, Ted 1928-2008 (Theodore Solotaroff, Theodore H. Solotaroff)

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Solotaroff, Ted 1928-2008 (Theodore Solotaroff, Theodore H. Solotaroff)


See index for CA sketch: Born October 9, 1928, in Elizabeth, NJ; died of complications from pneumonia, August 8, 2008, in East Quogue, NY. Magazine editor, book editor, educator, and author. During the years that Solotaroff spent on the editorial staff of the magazine Commentary in the early 1960s, he explored the concept of a different sort of literary journal. He imagined a publication that showcased literature as an art form, rather than a vehicle for a political or moral agenda. He craved fiction and creative nonfiction that, piece by piece, reflected contemporary culture without collectively advancing a specific direction, and he wanted to promote experimentation that transcended novelty for its own sake. In 1966, under the sponsorship of the book publisher New American Library, Solotaroff launched the New American Review (later shortened to American Review). It was a mighty endeavor, and Solotaroff committed himself to it with all the resources at his disposal. The review was published three times a year in the format of a perfect-bound paperback book, without the columns, sections, and regular features of a typical magazine. He sought contributions from the literary giants of the sixties, and from the new voices that captured his attention, and he held all of them to the highest literary standards. The magazine struggled financially for years, perhaps because Solotaroff's editorial goal was to produce a magazine of work by sophisticated literary writers for an audience of mass-market readers searching for a higher level of quality. Try as he might, Solotaroff could not attract a profitable readership on a consistent basis and, after a few changes of sponsor, the American Review ceased publication in 1977. Solotaroff remained in the business as a book editor, first for Bantam, the final sponsor of the American Review, then as the senior editor for book publisher Harper and Row, but he reportedly carried with him an air of disillusionment over the demise of his lofty but implausible dream. He also taught literature and creative writing classes at several universities. Though Solotaroff had won a prestigious Hopwood Award from the University of Michigan for the very first short story he ever wrote as a student, he did not pursue a career as a fiction writer. He did write essays, including those collected in The Red Hot Vacuum, and Other Pieces on the Writing of the Sixties (1970), A Few Good Voices in My Head: Occasional Pieces on Writing, Editing, and Reading My Contemporaries (1987), and The Literary Community: Selected Essays, 1967-2007 (2007), and he published two memoirs. He edited several books as well, including Many Windows: Twenty-two Stories from "American Review" (1982) and Writing Our Way Home: Contemporary Stories by American Jewish Writers (1992).



Solotaroff, Ted, Truth Comes in Blows: A Memoir, Norton (New York, NY), 1998.

Solotaroff, Ted, First Loves: A Memoir, Seven Stories Press (New York, NY), 2003.


Chicago Tribune, August 13, 2008, sec. 2, p. 10.

Los Angeles Times, August 14, 2008, p. B6.

New York Times, August 12, 2008, p. C8; August 14, 2008, p. A4.

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Solotaroff, Ted 1928-2008 (Theodore Solotaroff, Theodore H. Solotaroff)

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