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 Ben McGrath is not like a piece by Jill Lepore, and neither is like a piece by Ian Frazier. One could not mistake Finnegan for Goodyear, or Filkins for Khatchadourian, or Bilger for Paumgarten. Each has found a style, and it is that style that I respond to as I read, and want to understand and describe.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

April 3, 2017, Issue


For me, the most striking item in this week’s issue is Riccardo Vecchio’s exquisitely drawn and colored portrait of the poet Bill Knott, illustrating Dan Chiasson’s “The Fugitive,” a review of Knott’s I Am Flying Into Myself: Selected Poems. Vecchio is one of The New Yorker’s all-time greats. His portrait of Hank Jones for Gary Giddins’s superb “Autumn in New York” (The New Yorker, June 4, 2007) is my pick for best New Yorker illustration of the Remnick era.


Riccardo Vecchio, "Bill Knott" (2017)
Riccardo Vecchio, "Hank Jones" (2007)





































Six sentences in this week’s New Yorker that I enjoyed immensely:

1. The show’s duelling series demonstrate Oehlen’s savvy ability to take the piss out of painting via his non-allegiance to style. [“Goings On About Town: Art: Albert Oehlen”]

2. Davies resurrects footfalls and shadows, the pattern and texture of carpets, the sound of his mother’s singing voice—the inner drama of undramatic things that are lodged in memory for a lifetime. [Richard Brody, “Goings On About Town: Movies: The Long Day Closes]

3. It’s a pleasure to hear Duterte dip a toe in groovier waters on songs like “Baybee,” a velvety yacht jam that shows just how much pop can be wrung out of bedroom studios. [“Goings On About Town: Night Life: Jay Sam”]

4. Roberta’s mere presence, as she delivers the tarte tatin, a rose of butter-caramel apple slices hugging a hazelnut crust, rescues the experience from the dispassion of the suits—as does François’s wink and pour of gifted Calvados. [Becky Cooper, “Tables For Two: Augustine”]

5. I sometimes pretend that the ringing in my ears is a sound I play on purpose to mask the ringing in my ears—a Zen-like switcheroo that works better than you might think. [David Owen, “Pardon?”]

6. He is, at his best, a poet of home-brewed koans, threading his philosophical paradoxes into scenes of slacker glamour. [Dan Chiasson, “The Fugitive”]

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