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.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

March 17, 2014 Issue

Notes on this week’s issue:

1. GOAT’s Roe Ethridge photo “Football and Lavender” very fine.

2. David Denby’s “The sound of tobacco and paper burning while someone takes a long drag on a cigarette is given the same emotional weight as, say, the view of the Japanese countryside from the air,” in his capsule review of Hayao Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises - excellent.

3. Lizzie Widdicombe’s Talk story “Table Talk,” recording views of various customers at Café Glechik, a Ukrainian restaurant, on Russia’s Crimean invasion - superb.

4. Dana Goodyear’s “Long Story Short” on Lydia Davis, particularly part showing how Davis used e-mail message to create story - delightful.

5. André Aciman’s wonderful “Are You Listening?” brings page alive with tender memories of his deaf mother (“her unhindered capacity to let intimacy happen at a glance with everyone”).

6. So many great, surreal quotations embedded in Tad Friend’s brilliant “Heavy Weather,” profile of movie director Darren Aronofsky, e.g., Aronofsky telling the visual effects folks at I.L.M., “Samyaza’s three arms in the back are doing nothing – we need a whole other layer of digi-double people flying out like knee-high grass from a lawnmower as he throws and crushes.” Piece is rich, variegated mosaic of quotation and description. Favorite line: “A musk of cigarettes and resentment filled the air.” 

This week’s Pick of the Issue: Tad Friend“Heavy Weather.”

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