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.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

June 26, 2017 Issue


Last week, in response to Richard Brody’s “My Twenty-Five Best Films of the Century So Far” (newyorker.com, June 12, 2017), I posted my own list. For my #1 movie, I chose Sofia Coppola’s wonderful Lost in Translation (2003). Yesterday, reading Anthony Lane’s “Across the Divide,” in this week’s New Yorker, I was delighted to find a reference to Lost in Translation. Reviewing Coppola’s new film, The Beguiled, Lane writes,

Certainly, there is nothing here to match the crisp definition of Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson, who, in “Lost in Translation” (2003), stood out so clearly, and with such a funky need for one another, against the jet-lagged atmosphere. That remains Coppola’s finest hour, and, by her standards, the new work is amazingly unhip—touched with a gruesomeness that makes you giggle (“Go to the smokehouse and get me the saw, now”), yet too indolent to summon the energy for camp.

That “with such a funky need for one another, against the jet-lagged atmosphere” is very fine, perfectly capturing Lost in Translation’s bluesy romantic essence.

Other pleasures in this week’s issue:

1. “Goings On About Town: Art: Hilary Lloyd” (“Casually shot videos – of abstract imagery, women, the Adidas trefoil, blossoms – shed ambient light on painterly wallpaper”).

2. “Goings On About Town: Night Life: Wiki” (“Terse, frostbitten beats drag inventive new rhythms from grime and noise influences”).

3. Shauna Lyon’s “Tables For Two: Otway” (“the natural shades of toffee, rhododendron, and sunlight filling the lovely corner space”).

4. Peter Schjeldahl’s “Home and Away” (“Fiction blended with fact generates truths of life as it is lived and felt—or, perhaps, numbly not felt—by so many who labor in the penumbra of wealth. Gomez commands a Vermeer-esque, held-breath aura of transfigured ordinariness”).

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