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.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

March 27, 2017, Issue

I have to say I’m not crazy about any of the pieces in this week’s issue. But there are at least three sentences in which genuine inspiration appears to be present:

Strobe lights flashed on the placid face of the patron pink-bowed cat, which beamed down from the ceiling. [Wei Tchou, “Bar Tab: 100 Fun”]

Politics percolate in evocations of social class and function, with verisimilitude tipping toward the surreal in, for example, a set that suggests at once a beauty parlor, a medical facility, and a prison. [Peter Schjeldahl, “What’s New?”]

“Beauty and the Beast” is delectably done; when it’s over, though, and when the spell is snapped, it melts away, like cotton candy on the tongue. [Anthony Lane, “Pretty and Gritty”]

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