An elegant sense of bureaucracy and institutional power

John McPhee, who wrote much of his work from home, found returning to the New Yorker's offices a burden ...

After glancing through Bingham’s condensation, I called the office, asked if I could see Mr. Shawn, got on a train, and went to the city. Shawn was even smaller than I am, which is getting down there, but after going past his moats and entering his presence you were looking across a desk at an intimidating sovereign. Pathetically, I blurted out, “Mr. Bingham has removed eighty-five per cent of what I wrote?”
Shawn (incredulous, innocent, saucer-eyed): “He has?”
I responded affirmatively.
He said perhaps I should have a conversation with Mr. Bingham. He would arrange it. Mary Painter, his quiet Cerberus, would be in touch with me.

His quiet Ceberus ... often the most effective, and not necessarily the most aggressive, of assistants.