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, November 1, 2016

Contenders for "Top Ten Reporting Pieces" (So Far)

Illustration by Bjorn Lie (from Dana Goodyear's "Mezcal Sunrise")

Well, with only eight weeks left in the year, I want to start considering what my “Top Ten Reporting Pieces” might look like. Here are some of the contenders:

Ben Lerner, “The Custodians” (January 11, 2016)

Tad Friend, “Holding the T” (January 18, 2016)

Andrew O’Hagan, “Imaginary Spaces”  (March 28, 2016)

Dana Goodyear, “Mezcal Sunrise” (April 4, 2016)

Carolyn Kormann, “The Tasting-Menu Initiative” (April 4, 2016)

Dexter Filkins, “The End of Ice” (April 4, 2016)

Ian Frazier, “The Bag Bill” (May 2, 2016)

Lizzie Widdicombe, “Happy Together” (May 16, 2016)

Jonathan Franzen, “The End of the End of the World” (May 23, 2016)

Hilton Als, “Dark Rooms” (July 4, 2016)

Adam Gopnik, “Cool Running” (July 11 & 18, 2016)

Jill Lepore, “The War and the Roses” (August 8 & 15, 2016)

Nick Paumgarten, “The Country Restaurant” (August 29, 2016)

Dana Goodyear, “The Earth Mover” (August 29, 2016)

Janet Malcolm, “The Performance Artist” (September 5, 2016)

Tom Kizzia, “The New Harpoon” (September 12, 2016)

Ian Parker, “Knives Out” (September 12, 2016)

Burkhard Bilger, “Ghost Stories” (September 12, 2016)

Ian Frazier, “Patina” (September 19, 2016)

Elizabeth Kolbert, “A Song of Ice” (October 24, 2016)

These pieces are listed in the order they appeared in the magazine. Eventually, the list will have to be whittled down to ten – no easy task (they’re all excellent pieces). And I’ve learned from previous years not to decide prematurely. Last year, with about three weeks to go, I was sure Nick Paumgarten’s “Life Is Rescues” would be my #1 pick. Then Ben McGrath’s extraordinary “The Wayfarer” appeared, in the December 14 issue, and I had to revise my opinion (see here). By the way, where is McGrath? He’s a consistent Top Ten contender. But this year, he’s yet to appear. I miss him.  

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