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.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

December 15, 2014 Issue


Pick of the Issue this week is Ben McGrath’s “The Ice Breaker,” a profile of Montreal Canadiens’ kinetic, charismatic, brilliant defenseman, P. K. Subban. I’m a Toronto Maple Leafs fan. But last year, when the Leafs collapsed in the final month of the regular season and missed the playoffs, I followed the Canadiens’ post-season exploits. Their triumphant series against the thuggish Bruins was, for me, the hockey highlight of the year. Subban was mesmerizing. He scored a goal I’ll never forget. McGrath describes it beautifully:

Yet it was a projectile from Subban’s howitzer that lingers in my mind as one of the enduring images of last spring’s playoffs. This was during Game Five of the Eastern Conference semifinal series between the Canadiens and their hated rivals the Bruins, in which Cherry had accused Subban of “poking the bear”—provoking Cherry’s former team with a low and possibly dangerous hit on the enforcer Shawn Thornton. After the first game, in which Subban scored two goals, including the overtime winner, a disturbing number of Boston fans had used the N-word on social media. (One tweet read, “Tied something for SUBBAN,” and was accompanied by an image of a noose.) And here, four games later, was Subban, occupying the point on the power play, so impatient for the puck that he began bouncing up and down on his skates, like a child without a care. (“He says, ‘Mom, when I’m playing, from my head to my toes, I don’t feel anything,’ ” Maria told me.) He even got airborne, just as a teammate was finally getting around to setting him up with a pass. Slow it down now, and watch carefully: Subban’s skate blades reëstablish contact with the ice a second before he one-times a laser beam into the upper right corner.

That “Slow it down now, and watch carefully: Subban’s skate blades reëstablish contact with the ice a second before he one-times a laser beam into the upper right corner” made me smile, as I mentally replayed Subban’s marvelous goal.

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