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Saratoga Reads Announces This Year's Titles!

Frank Sullivan at His Best, a selection of writings by the late Algonquin Round Table member and contributor to the New York World, The New Yorker, and The Saturday Evening Post among many others, is Saratoga Springs Public Library’s 2017 selection for the SaratogaReads! community-wide reading and discussion initiative.

Sullivan’s fellow Cornell alumnus and The New Yorker contributor, E. B. White, is the author of the SaratogaReads! Junior Companion selection, Stuart Little.

Francis John Sullivan was born in Saratoga Springs on September 22, 1892. As a child he worked at the race track, meeting inspirational people such as Diamond Jim Brady and Lillian Russell. He attended Saratoga Springs High School, working part-time for The Saratogian newspaper before graduating in 1910. His talent blossomed early, earning him a scholarship to Cornell University where he graduated in 1914. Sullivan returned to Saratoga Springs and worked for the newspaper again, eventually moving to New York City in 1919 and ending up as a reporter and feature writer for the New York World, becoming a columnist in 1924. He had also been writing humor articles for The New Yorker since 1926 and continued to do so until the 1950s. He also contributed to Harper’s Atlantic Monthly, the Saturday Evening Post, Good Housekeeping, Vanity Fair, and other magazines. His twelve books include Broccoli and Old Lace and A Pearl in Every Oyster. He often wrote fondly of Saratoga Springs.

As a humorist, Sullivan was known for his gentle touch and for the characters he created to give voice to his observations on life: Aunt Sally Gallup, Martha Hepplethwaite, the Forgotten Bach (a member of the Bach family who was tone deaf), and Mr. Arbuthnot, the cliché expert.

A lifelong bachelor, Sullivan returned to his childhood home in Saratoga Springs in the 1960s, stating that it was “the most comsopolitan small town this side of Europe; tolerant, urbane, often rowdy, but kind to the visitor.” Sullivan was a good friend to all in the vicinity of the house he shared with his sister Kate at 135 Lincoln Avenue, often stocking up on small presents to delight neighborhood children.

Sullivan is buried in St. Peter’s Cemetery with the most fitting epitaph: “Frank Sullivan was a Saratogian.” Portions of his estate, including papers from influencers of Groucho Marx, Ogden Nash, E.B. White, and Edna Ferber were split amongst three local institutions: Cornell University, The Saratoga Springs History Museum, and the Saratoga Springs Public Library’s Saratoga Room.

It is only fitting that Saratoga share in the writings of a Saratogian, and by extension, the companion title adds some playfulness from a friend. Join us in our reading celebration! Below are some of our planned events throughout the year.

Note: The majority of this biography was taken from Sullivan’s entry in the Saratoga Springs History Museum’s Hall of Fame.

To learn even more about Frank Sullivan, visit the digital exhibit Frank Sullivan, The Sage of Saratoga by the library’s Saratoga Room, or for further resources on Frank Sullivan, related writers, and this season’s Saratoga Reads! choice visit the Saratoga Reads Tie-In Guide provided by the Saratoga Springs Public Library.


A Frank Sullivan / New Yorker Christmas Celebration with Patrick Donovan and The Living Library
Sunday, December 11, 2:00 pm

Sullivan’s seasonal works with other New Yorker columnists will form the basis of a holiday-themed performance by Patrick Donovan and his Living Library colleagues.

Frank Sullivan: The Sage of Saratoga with Chris Millis
Thursday, January 12, Noon

Prize winning novelist, cartoonist and screenwriter Chris Millis discusses one of his literary heroes, Frank Sullivan, using resources of the library and History Museum.

A Day at the Races Tootsie-Fruitsie January Ice Cream Social
Saturday, January 21, 2:00 pm

Celebrating Frank Sullivan’s friendship with Groucho Marx and the 1967 Frank Sullivan Race at the Saratoga Race Course, we present the Marx Brothers, A Day at the Races.

“Life is Short” discussion of writings of Frank Sullivan
Friday, February 3, 10:30 am

The library’s short-story reading group (open to anyone) will discuss selections from the community selection, and Sullivan’s 1954 piece for The New Yorker, “A Saratoga Childhood”.

Paint and Sip The New Yorker Style
Monday, February 20 (Adults: 9:30 am, Teens: Noon, Children ages 8-11: 2:30 pm)

Make art inspired from The New Yorker covers or cartoons all while enjoying some flavored teas. Due to limited space, Saratoga Springs City School District residency is required. Register at the library or online at the library’s event calendar starting December 1.

Capstone Event: In Conversation with Ian Frazier
Wednesday, March 15, 7:00 pm

Reporter, Thurber-Prize-winning humorist, and The New Yorker staff writer, Ian Frazier, joins us to cap off the Saratoga Reads! season with a discussion of his work. A book sale and signing will follow the program.


Related Events and Discussions:

Discussion of Between You & Me by Mary Norris
Thursday, November 17, 3:30 pm

Mary Norris has been a copy editor for The New Yorker for over three decades, and takes a very humorous look at the English language.

Discussion of Dissident Gardens by Johnathan Lethem
Thursday, December 15, 3:30 pm

A Yaddo alumnus and contributor to The New Yorker, Johnathan Lethem often writes about New York City, and in this story about a Queens communist.

Discussion of Selections from The Best American Short Stories, 2016
Friday, January 6, 10:30 am

Discussion of stories that originally appeared in The New Yorker including Apollo by Chiminanda Ngozi Adiche and Cold Little Bird by Ben Marcus.

Discussion of So Big by Edna Ferber
Thursday, January 19, 3:30 pm

Discussion of Algonquin Round Table member and friend of Frank Sullivan, Edna Ferber’s 1924 Pulitzer Prize winner, So Big.

Discussion of Selections from Frank Sullivan at His Best
Friday, February 3, 10:30 am

The short-story discussion will also feature Sullivan’s 1954 “Carnival” piece for The New Yorker, entitled A Saratoga Childhood.

Discussion of On the Rez by Ian Frazier
Thursday, February 16, 3:30 pm

Our Saratoga Reads! capstone event’s invited author’s book, On the Rez, covers a sharp, unflinching account of the modern-day American Indian experience. Come join in on the discussion.


For a full program brochure with more complete program and event descriptions, as well as the Junior Companion Stuart Little discussions and activities (beginning in February), see our full 2017 Selection and Junior Companion announcement brochure.

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