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.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

November 30, 2015 Issue

This week’s “Goings On About Town” (GOAT) brims with shuddery pleasures: Will Mebane’s jubilant “School of Rock” photo; Roman Muradov’s whimsical "Celebrating the Holidays" illustration; Richard Brody’s exquisite capsule review of Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s Cleopatra (“The director’s analytical intellectualism—with an emphasis on the diplomatic maneuvers of empire-building, the tactical complexity of ancient warfare, and the psychological pressure of romance on the levers of power—is heated by the erotic passion of Antony and Cleopatra and the intense bond between Taylor and Burton, which is as entrancing in the movie’s drama as it was in life”); Andrea K. Scott’s wonderful "Seeing Stars" on Rachel Rose’s video “Everything and More” (“unfolds onscreen for eleven minutes and orbits in the mind’s eye for days”); Shauna Lyon’s ravishing "Tables For Two" on Sushi Azabu (“An epic procession begins: a square of piquant cured tuna, a small ceramic cup of velvety uni risotto, a gorgeous pair of cold kumamoto oysters topped with fresh grated wasabi—when announcing this last part, the young sushi chef, Tasuku Murakami, points to the gigantic gnarled green wasabi root displayed in a case: See? It’s very fresh”); Colin Stokes’s sublime "Bar Tab: Caledonia" [“Michael joked, as he served a creamy pint of Belhaven ale alongside a smooth and sweet Bunnahabhain Toiteach (“the ‘bh’ is a ‘v,’ ” he offered helpfully), whose aroma piqued nostrils from a tulip-shaped Glencairn glass”]. That “whose aroma piqued nostrils from a tulip-shaped Glencairn glass” is brilliant! It inspires me to propose a toast. Here’s to GOAT – my favorite part of the magazine.

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