Introduction

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.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

November 24, 2014 Issue


Pleasures abound in this week’s issue (“The Tech Issue”): “the easy, cheesy thrills of the appetizers” at Upland (“Amelia Lester, “Tables For Two”); the “in-process” feel of Bryan Graf’s photograms, “as if the fabric were still moving, refracting and layering gossamer passages of magenta, rose, and acid green” (“Goings On About Town: Art”); the “razor-sharp pulp efficacy” of the action scenes in Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s The Third Generation (Richard Brody, “Goings On About Town: Movies”); the “subtle but staggeringly delicious truffle pasta with grated yak cheese” at Aldo Sohm Wine Bar (“Sarah Larson, “Bar Tab”); the “heavy, golden, fan-shaped leaves” of New York City’s ginkgoes (Oliver Sacks, “Night of the Ginkgo”); the 10xers on the roof of Altay Guvench’s “hacker mansion,” finishing their drinks in the fog (Lizzie Widdicombe, “The Programmer’s Price”); Sean Parker, in his Plaza Hotel apartment, “dressed in jeans and rust-colored high tops, drinking tea from a white china cup” (John Seabrook, “Revenue Streams”); the sound of a Wyss Institute 3-D printer clacking and clattering like a busy riveting machine” (Jerome Groopman, “Print Thyself”); the roar of the crowd in Lincoln Theatre, “as it saw Scarlett plant a hatchery – a pulsing, cloudy blue blob – down in the corner, next to PartinG’s home base” (Ben McGrath, “Good Game”); the “jagged music” of Penelope Fitzgerald’s prose – “each sentence is a little different from its predecessor; nothing is allowed to settle into the familiar” (James Wood, “Late Bloom”). I enjoyed it immensely. 

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