Wednesday, March 7, 2012
March 5, 2012 Issue
We’re only in March, but Nick Paumgarten has already written what’s sure to be one of the year’s best pieces. I’m referring to his great “The Ring and the Bear” (The New Yorker, January 30, 2012). The question is can he score two hits in a row? Alas, the answer is no. His “Magic Mountain,” in this week’s issue, is damn near unstomachable. It’s about his attendance at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, in Davos, Switzerland. So intolerable is it, so full of wealthy, élite, globe-trotting, class-conscious, status-seeking, full-of-themselves windbags, pedants, and egotists (mostly male) that I had to force myself to keep reading. When I came to the sentence “The stratification begins with badges,” I closed the magazine and went for a walk. I finished the thing later, persisting only because it’s by Paumgarten, one of my favorites. Over the years, his writing has taken me on some memorable excursions, e.g., Inwood Hill Park (“The Mannahatta Project,” The New Yorker, October 1, 2007), Governors Island (“Useless Beauty,” The New Yorker, October 31, 2009). But this Davos trip – what a bummer!