What is The New Yorker? I know it’s a great magazine and that it’s a tremendous source of pleasure in my life. But what exactly is it? This blog’s premise is that The New Yorker is a work of art, as worthy of comment and analysis as, say, Keats’s “Ode on a Grecian Urn.” Each week I review one or more aspects of the magazine’s latest issue. I suppose it’s possible to describe and analyze an entire issue, but I prefer to keep my reviews brief, and so I usually focus on just one or two pieces, to explore in each the signature style of its author. A piece by Matthew Trammell is not like a piece by James Wood, and neither is like a piece by Peter Schjeldahl. One could not mistake Finnegan for Frazier, or Lepore for Paumgarten, or Goodyear for Khatchadourian. Each has found a style, and it is that style that I respond to as I read, and want to understand and describe.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Garner "Hooked" On Kael

This morning, perusing The New York Times Sunday Book Review, I was delighted to find Dwight Garner’s appreciation of Pauline Kael’s 1989 collection Hooked [see “A Great Guide (Apologies to Its Author),” The New York Times, July 14, 2011]. In his piece, Garner says that, “rereading Hooked was a treat, like someone taking me to Grand Central Oyster Bar and saying, ‘Amigo, the check’s on me.’ I can’t imagine a better beach book in 2011.” I agree. Hooked is a wonderful book; all the material in it originally appeared in The New Yorker. I take this opportunity to tip my hat to Garner for writing one of this year’s most memorable reviews, an expert demolition of Annie Proulx’s Bird Cloud (see “A Novelist Wills Her Dream Home Into Being,” The New York Times, January 4, 2011).

Credit: The above photo of Pauline Kael is by Chris Carroll; it appears on the back cover of Kael’s great 5001 Nights at the Movies.

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