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 Nick Paumgarten is not like a piece by Dana Goodyear, and neither is like a piece by Ian Frazier. One could not mistake Finnegan for Friend, or Bilger for Lepore, or Collins 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.

Monday, August 17, 2015

August 10 & 17, 2015 Issue

Notes on this week’s issue:

1. My pleasure-seeking eyes devoured the “Goings On About Town” capsule review of the Met’s “Van Gogh: Irises and Roses,” particularly the description of the roses: “pinwheels of thickly applied light blue, cream, and canary yellow.”

2. Amelia Lester’s “ ‘Did he say scallop sperm? He did, and it’s mild, sweet, and a little bit wobbly, like custard,” in her superb "Tables For Two: Shuko," is inspired.

3. Jake Halpern’s absorbing "The Cop" brings us face to face with the police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown, on August 9, 2014, in Ferguson, Missouri. The officer’s name is Darren Wilson. Halpern says, “Many Americans believe that Wilson need not have killed Brown in order to protect himself, and might not have resorted to lethal force had Brown been white.” I share that belief. After reading Halpern’s detailed piece, I still believe it. Wilson didn’t shoot Brown in the back. But he did fire ten bullets at him. Halpern says that a few bullets missed him, “but he was hit in the chest, the forehead, and the arm.” This, in my view, is damning evidence of Wilson’s overreaction. His insistence that “I did my job that day” is outrageous.

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