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, March 3, 2017

February 27, 2017, Issue


McKenna Stayner’s “Bar Tab” sentences are amazing mashups of unexpected words and images. Her “The crawlers, finishing a hot whiskey cider that tasted like the dregs of an overly honeyed tea, passed through a teensy smokers’ patio and into the booze-soaked main bar, attracted by a glowing yellow counter, its surface like the cracked crust of a crème brûlée,” in “Bar Tab: Sycamore,” was one of last year’s highlights (see “Best of 2016: GOAT”). Her “Bar Tab: Super Power,” in this week’s issue, contains another dandy: “Visiting Super Power, with the gentle glow of a blowfish lamp, the fogged windows dripping hypnotically with condensation, and the humid, coconut-scented air, was exactly like being on a cruise, but everyone was wearing wool.” That sensuous conjunction of light (“gentle glow of a blowfish lamp”), steam (“fogged windows dripping hypnotically with condensation”), smell (“humid, coconut-scented air”), and texture (“everyone was wearing wool”) is ravishing!

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