Veronica Geng (January 10, 1941 – December 24, 1997) was an American editor and writer.
Geng was born in Atlanta, Georgia, raised in Philadelphia and attended the University of Pennsylvania. She died in New York City of brain cancer.
Geng was an influential and acclaimed humorist and editor who typically wrote short stories and essays, the best of which generated humor that worked on more than one level. An April 29, 2007 story in the Los Angeles Times called her "a brilliant contributor to The New Yorker and the quirky dark lady of Manhattan's literary scene, celebrated for her deadpan essays and revolving-door sex life."
Her work included satire and parody, with allusions to both high culture and popular culture. Critics praised her parodies for their unusual coupling of subjects and control of style, e.g., the Watergate Tapes reviewed by a hip Rolling Stone critic, or a sitcom about the young Henry James. She wrote approving essays about Monty Python in The New Yorker and The New Republic. However, Ben Yagoda in About Town: The New Yorker and the World it Made called many of her later writings "subtle to the point of unintelligibility."
In addition to her essays and work as an editor, Geng reviewed books for The New York Times for many years, starting in the early 1970s. She also wrote for the Village Voice in the early 1970s. Her short parody of the film critic Pauline Kael, published in The New York Review of Books in 1975, caught the eye of Roger Angell, a fiction editor at The New Yorker; he called her "the hardest person he ever had to edit." She then began writing for The New Yorker in 1976 and also became an assistant fiction editor.
Geng worked closely with writers such as Philip Roth, Frederick Barthelme, Milan Kundera, William Trevor, James McCourt, and Ian Frazier. She remained at The New Yorker until 1992, leaving because of disagreements with the magazine's editor at the time, Tina Brown.
Geng was also a film reviewer in the 1970s and 1980s for Film Comment, American Film, The New Yorker, Soho News, The New Republic and The New York Review of Books.
In addition to the writing noted above, Geng wrote about feminist issues in pieces such as "Women in Science Fiction," for Bookletter, "Requiem for the Women's Movement," for Harper's and "Comment" on the Equal Rights Amendment" for The New Yorker.
In 2007 her brother, Steve Geng, published a memoir titled Thick as Thieves, which chronicled his relationship with his sister as well as his experiences of growing up as an army brat, drug addiction, time in jail, military experience, HIV and osteonecrosis.
Bibliography (not inclusive)
- Guess Who? A Cavalcade of Famous Americans 1969 (a children's historical book)
- In A Fit of Laughter: An Anthology Of Modern Humor, edited by Veronica Geng with an introduction by Steve Allen, 1969
Collections of her writings are published in:
- Partners 1984
- Love Trouble is My Business 1988
- Love Trouble, 1999, published posthumously, collects the two previous books and adds previously uncollected work.
- Cosmopolitan's Hangup Handbook, 1971
- Not the New York Times, 1978
- The 80s: A Look Back at the Tumultuous Decade, 1980–1989, 1979
Contributions to The New Yorker
- Various stories/essays/criticism, 1976–1992