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 Nick Paumgarten is not like a piece by Dana Goodyear, and neither is like a piece by Ian Frazier. One could not mistake Finnegan for Friend, or Bilger for Lepore, or Collins 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.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Interesting Emendations: John McPhee's Brilliant "Structure"

The “Structure” in John McPhee’s excellent new book, Draft No. 4, is not the “Structure” that appeared in the January 14, 2013, New Yorker. The book version contains three additional sections – one on the composition of “The Encircled River” (The New Yorker, May 2 & 9, 1977), one on writing leads, and one on the structuring of “Looking for a Ship” (The New Yorker, March 26 & April 2, 1990). These additions make “Structure” the longest and, for me, the richest of Draft No. 4’s eight essays. I’ll have more to say about this great piece in future posts.

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