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.

Friday, August 5, 2016

August 1, 2016 Issue


For me, the most pleasurable items in this week’s issue are all, except for one, in “Goings On About Town”:

1. Peter Schjeldahl’s “Young Master,” a consideration of Rembrandt’s Judas Returning the Thirty Pieces of Silver (“The coins—count ’em, thirty—lie strewn in a pool of light on the floor”);

2. Richard Brody’s capsule review of Andrzej Zulawski’s On the Silver Globe (“Zulawski films it all with a wildly gyrating camera that scampers across fields, vaults over hilltops, thrusts through phalanxes of warriors, and pivots to reveal soldiers dancing on the beach in front of orange flames”);

3. Becky Cooper’s “Tables For Two: Barano” (“End a meal with the panna cotta, cool and deeply vanilla, tucked under pistachio-hazelnut brittle and ribbons of basil, with slices of grapefruit just sanguine enough for you to pretend they’re blood oranges from Mt. Etna.”)

4. Emma Allen’s “Bar Tab: Northern Territory” (“Up on the pleasant roof deck, a Swiss gent ordered a pint of Narragansett lager with a healthy pour of Sprite, a take on his country’s panaché, or shandy: ‘The perfect thing for summer’ ”).

The exception is Marie Howe’s wonderful poem “Low Tide, Late August,” an evocation of a quiet coupling, floating in a bay’s “softly sucking and lapping water, / as the pulling out reached its limit and the tide began to flow slowly back / again.”

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