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, February 24, 2017

At the Archive: Nick Paumgarten's "Tables For Two: Tony Luke's"

Today, I’m in the Archive pleasurably devouring Nick Paumgarten’s “Tables For Two: Tony Luke’s” (April 11, 2005). Early in his New Yorker career, Paumgarten wrote a slew of “Tables For Two” pieces. “Tony Luke’s” is one of his most inspired, featuring this memorable description of a Tony Luke’s cheesesteak:

The cheesesteaks here are about a foot long, and they are served without the benefit of being cut in half. As a result, as you eat one, the structural integrity starts to go; well-cheesified clumps of steak ooze out the sides. Quick flanking bites along the roll’s perimeter don’t much help, and soon you find yourself pushing the thing into your mouth like a log into a chipper.

That last line makes me smile every time I read it. 

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