September New Yorker reads

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September New Yorker reads

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syyskuu 1, 2011, 8:38 am

Qebo and I did brilliantly with our August Marathon. Now we hope to settle into some sort of low-key routine. I'm hoping to read two a week until I catch up and after that I hope to stay more or less current! I can dream.

I hope many more of you will join us in this less pressured environment.

syyskuu 1, 2011, 8:55 am

I'm on May 16, and you're somewhere in June, and if you're planning to slow down a bit, then my goal this month is to catch up with you. Though with Scientific American tossed into the mix, I'm not sure this will be possible.

syyskuu 1, 2011, 9:03 am

If I keep losing my NYers you haven't got a chance! Otherwise, I think you could easily catch up with me. Presently I've barely touched the mid-month two-week issue (fiction, by the way) so I think you have a good chance! I'm totally obsessed with the detective thriller I'm reading and a longgg book on Emerson and buddies, plus I have some work-related reading I need to get to.....

syyskuu 1, 2011, 9:29 am

I can lose NYers too... Oh, excellent, I just looked, and indeed the double issue is mostly fiction, not much else, so June should be relatively easy. I'm ahead of quota on books, though behind in reviewing, plan to dedicate the weekend to catchup and magazine momentum, and maybe a book that isn't about the worst of human nature.

syyskuu 2, 2011, 3:36 pm

Slowly making headway through this fiction issue -- Unbelievably sad memoir of losing a baby to some horrendous tumor. Why do I read these things? I liked the story by George Saunders, it's spare and tight and emotionally right on. You might like the very short pieces by various writers about early work experiences that might have 'guided' them toward a writer's life.

syyskuu 2, 2011, 5:07 pm

Yeah, I probably will like those; I'm curious about how people get to where they are. I read one article in May 16 yesterday, also began the January 2011 Scientific American, which I'll note in the other thread when I get past the little stuff and through a feature article.

syyskuu 3, 2011, 10:35 pm

I am creeping through this issue. You might like the translated letters of Nabokov off on a lecture tour around the USA. The other essay I read today was by Jhumpa Lahiri about her beginnings as a writer. Couldn't quite face a story. I'm kind of jumping around.

syyskuu 3, 2011, 10:38 pm

May 16 done. This is the post-Osama bin Laden issue, with related articles. Talk of the Town has four, and I read them all. James Surowiecki: consumers who take risks inspire businesses to invent products. Malcolm Gladwell: the invention of the mouse occurred in three stages: a computer scientist (at Stanford Research Institute) who conceived the idea but was more focused on concept than material reality, a research lab (Xerox PARC) that got it to work without concern for financial constraints, a business (Apple) that made it into a robust and inexpensive product. Skipped Pepsi getting into the health food business. Read about Pixar; I'm more interested in the process than the result. Then back to OBL. Then Lawrence Wright on unintended consequences of the US funding the Pakistan military. I have his highly regarded book The Looming Tower about 9/11 but haven't read it. Maybe it's getting to be about time. Then 10 pages on Afghanistan, the gist of which is it's not a cohesive place and different people have different allegiances and different agendas. Skipped the fiction. Read about Paula Fox, because I recall her books from my childhood. News to me: she gave up her first child for adoption, the child Linda Carroll grew up and found her and wrote a memoir and is the mother of Courtney Love, who even I have heard of. Briefly Noted reviews, positively but not enthusiastically, Unfamiliar Fishes by Sarah Vowell, an author I have yet to read though I've heard her on NPR. Skipped art and music and theater and film. Phew. Oh, and May has 5 issues. Sigh.

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 4, 2011, 9:53 am

Isn't that kind of interesting? -- the Paula Fox -Courtney Love connection....

I don't know if I am going to meet my extension deadline..... I'm still paddling through the fiction.

Because of the Nabokov I was butterfly sensitized this morning -- saw a few -- monarchs, some kind of similar looking one, but smaller, little yellow ones, and then the blacky-purple with the white strip along the top of the wing..... I don't have a proper butterfly ID book, just a book on the pleasures of studying butterflies......

syyskuu 4, 2011, 10:44 am

I have a butterfly bush in my back yard, planted it last year, a pathetic scrawny little thing that grew profusely beyond its intended boundaries. It attracts more bumblebees than butterflies, but I've seen a variety of butterflies around this summer. The only ones I can identify are monarch and cabbage butterflies. I'll suppose that you are more surrounded by actual nature than I am. SqueakyChu recommended the book Bringing Nature Home, which I have not yet read straight through, but I looked up butterfly bushes, and unfortunately they do not provide a habitat for breeding, so I need to consider what can be done with the remaining half of the yard.

Well, maybe your deadline can be reduced in intensity to a guideline, especially if you're enjoying the fiction. At the rate you've been going, you can slack off and still become current this month or next.

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 5, 2011, 1:07 pm

Yep, I'm out in the natural world all right! After we bought this land, which had no abode on it, we used to rough it up here, real camping, then a tent camper, and now we've gone and built a house, gosh-darn it -- but we're off the grid, though less as of two days ago when land-line was finally accomplished.... so now we have DSL and yet another modern amenity. Do I miss the days when I used to crouch by the pond clettering my dishes with a twig and Dr. Bronner's --- kinda, but not really! It is very very hard to fight the urge to improve and domesticate! It's a slippery slope.

I got so excited about the above I forgot to add that I finished this fiction issue. On the whole I'm pretty impressed with it. Two of the stories were very good -- they had a theme: 'lost' young people. The middle one by Jeffrey Eugenides didn't quite work for me although it had some moments and the description of Calcutta, of being a volunteer for Mother T. there, brought the experience to life.

One essay - the last 'how I became a writer' is wonderful -- as a disaffected teen the writer found St. John's University and never looked back. That is a college I wish I had considered.

Lastly a review of a book on the influence of Harriet Beecher Stowe and Uncle Tom's Cabin - I read an odd novel of hers earlier this year with Becky so it was of interest to me.

Edited for astonishing number of weird spelling mistakes.

syyskuu 5, 2011, 11:15 am

Well, I am impressed, in the abstract, with your immersion in nature. I sorta prefer nature to be out there somewhere, while I am in here.

Hmm, I might read the story for Calcutta.

I visited the St. John's Annapolis campus with a friend in HS, so it must've had some appeal, but I didn't pursue further and I don't think she did either, in any case didn't end up there.

I'm catching up with reviews (2 of 4 done), keeping on pace with the current book (The River of Doubt), stepping through January 2011 Scientific American, haven't opened a NYer since my post on Saturday night, and doubt I will today. I should be painting my house and weeding my yard too; not sure when that's gonna happen.

syyskuu 5, 2011, 1:22 pm

I'M DONE!! Thanks to the pouring rain, slumbering family members, and the holiday, I sat in my chair at the dining table and plowed through this last June NYer. A pretty good one.

The piece about Crystal Bridges, Alice Walton's museum is great. I can't wait to go and see it. I loved the Ozarks when we drove through in the early 90's. Skipped ballet and financial-sector crime because...... well..... because. LOVED Gopnik's piece on trying to learn to draw. It's the best of his essays in a while. Didn't like the Munro -- and I studied Munro intensively at one period; I'm tired of this kind of story where you know the dog is gonna die. Boring.

Lastly an excellent overview of books about cities - as someone who left the depths of rural life for the middle of a city and is now back in the boonies, I have my own views on the matter..... I think the city is/was a fabulous place to bring up a child - although, ok, full disclosure - I admit, I'm ok that we aren't there for adolescence.

I don't quite get the cover. Is it the 'dogs looking like owners' thing?

I do not plan to touch a NYer until sometime next week.

syyskuu 5, 2011, 8:00 pm


Muokkaaja: syyskuu 6, 2011, 8:56 pm

May 23 done. Unusually, didn't read the entirety of any Talk of the Town. Read about artificial meat, which seems a plausible thing for both environment and animal welfare. I can see the argument by Dan Barber of Blue Hill / Stone Barns for ecological complexity, but troublesome issues are best tackled in multiple ways. (Noting for the record that the idea emerged from Willem Van Eelen's experience as a WWII POW in Japan. Also, Animal Liberation by Peter Singer, which oddly I have never read, though it is indirectly the reason I became vegetarian.) Read about Clarence Darrow. Apparently the better of the two books mentioned is Clarence Darrow: Attorney for the Damned by John A. Farrell. Read the first couple pages about Thomas Drake and the NSA; I care in principle about this sort of thing, but I find it rather dull to read. Skipped Earl Sweatshirt. Skipped Joseph Brodsky. Briefly Noted reviews a biography of Obama's mother: A Singular Woman by Janny Scott, which I doubt I'll read but might conceivably acquire because there's a distant genealogical connection. Skipped fiction, art, theater, cinema.

syyskuu 8, 2011, 9:25 am

May 30, and thus May, is done! Read Talk of the Town re Syria, Osama bin Laden & Muslim porn ("department of loopholes"). Glanced at James Surowiecki long enough to get that BPP stands for Billion Pieces Project and that it grabs prices off the internet, so is more immediate than the Consumer Price Index. Read about Cory Arcangel, because he's semi-techie, and because I'm curious about the economics of the thing; I live in a world of marketable skills. Read about açaí, less because of it and more because of Brazil, which has been floating within my attention span recently with 1491 and River of Doubt. Skipped the 11 pages of baseball. Read the sad story of the woman discharged from the mental hospital after refusing to accept the diagnosis, and the issues this raises re consent to medication and disclosure to family. I do not have a solution. Read about Rabindranath Tagore; the book is Rabindranath Tagore: The Myriad-Minded Man by Krishna Dutta and Andrew Robinson. Read about vaccination and social resistance to it; the book is Pox by Michael Willrich. Briefly Noted mentions The Origins of Political Order by Francis Fukuyama, which I may get to one day. Skipped fiction, cinema, theater.

syyskuu 8, 2011, 9:39 am

I totally missed the Surowiecki and the BPP...... and I already forget how I'm supposed to pronounce acai....... ! And I read this stuff because...?

syyskuu 8, 2011, 9:49 am

I trust that it is reconfiguring neurons, and possibly the next or next or next time I read about the same thing, bits of memory will be retrieved. It's taken me awhile to get over the idea that reading non-fiction doesn't count unless I study as if there will be a test.

syyskuu 8, 2011, 10:11 am

I actually think I might have read the May 30 issue, because I recall the story about the woman who refused her diagnosis.

That said, I'm cruising through Autumn 2006, and will report the interesting tidbits tonight.

syyskuu 8, 2011, 10:16 am

Looking forward to hearing from you later.

syyskuu 9, 2011, 5:30 pm

I'm hopeless--but once in awhile I flip through one of these mags and find something interesting--not that they all don't have something of interest; it's just that I don't very often pick one up.

>13 sibylline:. I loved the article about Alice Walton's art museum in Bentonville, Arkansas. That's only about 5.5 hours from here. DH is always asking if I wouldn't like to go somewhere for the weekend. That sounds like the perfect place to go. The Ozarks are wonderful, particularly in the fall. It's not good to go hiking there in the summer because it's too hot, humid, and buggy. Coming from Colorado years ago, we were used to doing our hiking in the mountains in late July & August. The backpacking season in the Ozarks pretty much ends with Memorial Day--something we had a very hard time adjusting to.

Anywho, I'm so glad you mentioned that article.

I wanted to mention that if anyone is interested in the history of the New Yorker, there's a very entertaining and readable book, About Town: The New Yorker and the World It Made, by Ben Yagoda. I might have mentioned this here before. He was one of the first researchers to use the NYer archives when they opened them up to researchers at the NYPL. I'm about 80 pages into the book, so I can't say if he will keep up the good pace that he's set for the first part of the book, but I would imagine he does. I love the stories of the people who first worked there--what a great group and what a great place to work. Fun.

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 9, 2011, 6:11 pm

I've read the Thurber book and the one by Brendan Gill - how does this measure up?

Definitely, next time he asks say, I know where! I'll await your report. We had some adventures with our tent camper in the Ozarks, oh my!

syyskuu 9, 2011, 6:26 pm

21: Oh, that looks interesting. Thanks for mentioning it. I've added it to the wishlist, which alas is years long...

syyskuu 9, 2011, 6:54 pm

Having said I was sailing through autumn 2006, I am now obliged to report.

October 9, 2006:

I was moved and educated by Richard Preston’s article on the tallest tree yet found, a redwood named Hyperion, with measures 379.1 feet tall when measured by an expert, Stephen Sillett, who climbed it and measured using a metal pole, for the topmost part that was unclimbable, and a tape line in the other direction. He estimated that it was yet a young tree, only 600 years old. That makes me feel a little insignificant.

I still have to read a piece by Milan Kundura on What is a Novelist, lessons from Proust and Flaubert. At least I’ve read two out of the three authors in that sentence – haven’t gotten to Marcel yet.

Ocotber 16, 2006:

This was the media issue for the year, and full of articles on magazines and newspapers and journalists and moguls, most of which I skipped. But there were four articles I found fascinating and amusing

1. The Formula (Malcolm Gladwell) – a few Brits decide to see if they can quantify what makes a movie hit, using hundreds of attributes and past track records, and ignoring quality. Very amusingly told, and perhaps the reason why so many of our movies, especially summer movies, are so much alike.

2. He Knew He Was Right (Ian Parker) – a sort of intellectual history of Christopher Hitchens and his steady steamroll to conservatism, in which Hitch does not come off very well. It was followed in a subsequent issue in November by some scathing letters to the editor that were just as much fun.

3. Book review by Jill Lepore on new books on Thomas Paine. The review was fascinating in that it told so much of Paine’s biography. I hadn’t realized that he had come over from Britain after he reached adulthood and after failing in business and losing his family, or that he left the new US for France in search of more and better revolution. I suppose I should look for the books Lepore reviewed, as well: Thomas Paine and the Promise of America, by Harvey J. Kaye, and Thomas Paine: Enlightenment, Revolution, and the Birth of Modern Nations by Craig Nelson, and The Trouble with Tom: The Strange Afterlife and Times of Thomas Paine by Paul Collins, not to mention Paine’s own writing. Lepore is delicious in her discussion of how so many people were discomfited by Paine, especially John Adams, and in the following paragraph:

“Thomas Paine is, at best, a lesser Founder. In the comic-book version of history that serves as our national heritage, where the Founding Fathers are like the Hanna-Barbera Super Friends, Pain is Aquaman to Washington’s superman and Jefferson’s Batman; we never find out how he got his superpowers, and he only shows up when they need someone who can swim.”

4. And, in the same issue, I found a review of Jessica Mitford’s book Daughters and Rebels, by Thomas Mallon, which gives a biographic gloss to ‘Decca’ and makes me want to read more about her as well.

And all that without reading about Murdoch or conspiracy theory or any of the other media stories in the issue. I loved the cover, too – a patchwork of floating eyes and ears in bright colors with barely visible media logos interspersed. I can see it as an eye-popping patchwork quilt in an outrageously modern white and steel bedroom.

October 30, 2006:

A much more sedate issue. What caught my eye was another Ian Frazier story, this one about a fish called a ‘snook’ and how it figured in his life, and a wonderful article on Alexander Hertzen, prominent in Stoppard’s wonderful theater trilogy ‘The Coast of Utopia’, which I had the extreme pleasure of seeing in its entirety. To watch Ethan Hawke (as Bakunin, I think) command the entire, huge stage at Lincoln Center as the subject of an interrogation – he just seemed to expand like the Incredible Hulk, without ever leaving his chair – forever will be one of my most wonderful theatrical memories.

Sigh – more history to catch up on.

syyskuu 9, 2011, 9:52 pm

I totally remember the one about the redwood!

You lucky duck! (The Stoppard)

syyskuu 10, 2011, 8:45 am

>22 sibylline:. Well, Thurber & Gill of course both worked at the mag and had their own personal and particular slant on everything. Yagoda's book is billed as the biography of a magazine--and he can write! One of the blurbs on the back calls the book "engaging," and I would agree. Yagoda had access to the 2500 archival boxes from the NYer editorial files. The magazine donated the files to the NYPL when they moved to a new building in 1991. The files were opened to researchers in the spring of 1994.

In a perfect world, I would rent a place in NYC for a month or so and spend time just with the letters (and Yagoda says that both sides of the letters exist because they kept carbon copies of their own letters) of fiction editor Katharine Angell White--just for the shear pleasure of doing it. I think she's a fascinating personality, but unfortunately her biographer had Andy White hanging over her shoulder, so I'm afraid the "good stuff" was whitewashed.

syyskuu 10, 2011, 10:33 am

I loved both of their 'personal and particular slant' on things, but I will definitely track down the Yagoda.

Meanwhile, I confess I am enjoying my NY 'respite' although I keep wondering what's missing in my life??? Why is there so much extra time? ha ha

syyskuu 10, 2011, 12:46 pm

24: You're making me wish I'd paid more attention in 2006. The review was fascinating in that it told so much of Paine’s biography. Yes, I like this about the book reviews. Even, or especially, when I'm not interested enough to read an entire book. Thanks for the links though; in this case I may be interested enough.

27: I am enjoying my NY 'respite' I'm trudging through June 6, with no more enthusiasm than you had. I expect to finish it, and the January 2011 Scientific American, and a short book (which will put me three reviews behind unless I get my act together), this weekend. So enjoy your respite a little longer, and I may be able to catch up.

syyskuu 12, 2011, 9:04 pm

June 6 done. Read Talk of the Town about Netanyahu, and Ted Nugent's son. Skimmed Seymour Hersh about Iran and nuclear weapons, noticed the bit about surveillance by US intelligence: street signs were replaced by signs with similar appearance plus embedded radiation sensors, bricks in suspect buildings were replaced by bricks with similar appearance plus embedded monitoring devices (nothing was discovered). Read about Romney, who is, as The Onion puts it "haunted by past of trying to help uninsured sick people". Skimmed about Berlusconi, noticed the bit about honor killings in Italy being more legal more recently than I would've supposed. Read about the often appalling conditions, and deception, of foreign workers on US military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan. Read Louis Menard about college, meritocratic vs democratic vs vocational; seems all have a legitimate place, and are not mutually exclusive, but it's not a simple matter to sort through expectations. Briefly Noted reviews The Rise and Fall of Ancient Egypt by Toby Wilkinson, which looks interesting but is probably more than I want to take on. Skipped fiction, music, cinema.

syyskuu 13, 2011, 8:43 am

Well, now you can see why I'm still in 2006. I went back to the Kundura article in the October 9, 2006 edition, in which he cites the two prefaces to the 1972 pocket edition of Madame Bovary. Both commentators denounce the book and feel that Flaubert denied his genius!

Kundura, in contrast, states that Flaubert exemplifies the 'conversion', the maturation of a writer from the 'lyric age' of adolescent poetry to the age of the true novel, what Kundura calls 'the prose of life'. He then quotes a passage from Sentimental Education, in which Frederic, thinking himself in love with Madame Arnoux, goes home and views himself in his own mirror for a solid minute. This is what Kundura says is the 'lyric age' exemplified and gently mocked by Flaubert. I must read that book. Kundura further cites the end of Madame Bovary, when she flings her last five-franc coin at a beggar, and 'thought it quite fine, tossing the coin like that'. She is still measuring herself, pleased with herself even as she forges on to her death.

I hope this excerpt gets Kundura's point across, that novelists are interpreters, even re-enterpreters of life, distanced from the self-regard that so absorbs us - it's an article with many references to Flaubert, Proust and Cervantes, and has made me think quite a log.

In that issue also, an article by Mark Singer on Richard McNair, the wiliest prisoner ever to escape, repeatedly, from penitentiaries in various locations by a variety of means, including lip balm on his handcuffs (there's a lesson for you), close observation and what we would now call social engineering. As of the writing of the article, he was out again. He is such a con-man that in a rather extended meeting with an officer who had just been briefed on his latest escape, he manages to dazzle the officer into ignoring the obvious. There's a video-recording of the meeting, in which he is so likeable that the officer completely disregards what he himself is saying and lets McNair go!

Also, there is an article by Atul Gawande, always an interesting medical writer, on how childbirth techniques have changed over the years and why we now do so many Caesarian section deliveries. A little gruesome, actually, but very informative. And, a review of a biography of Kit Carson, containing, as Jill Lepore's reviews often do, much history of the time. It's interesting that a review like this rarely comments on the quality of the book or writing - it's more an introduction to the material and an invitation to look further.

AND - a 'review' of Hart Crane, prompted by the publication of a volume of his work by the Library of America.

AND - a review of the movie 'The Queen'. But I was too tired by then to do more than skim it.

And that's why I'm still reading 2006.

syyskuu 13, 2011, 9:20 am

And, a review of a biography of Kit Carson, containing, as Jill Lepore's reviews often do, much history of the time. It's interesting that a review like this rarely comments on the quality of the book or writing - it's more an introduction to the material and an invitation to look further.
Yes. I generally suppose the book to be worthwhile or the article would not have been written, because it does rather imply that the mentioned book is the place to look for more, but I don't know that I've ever followed through; typically the several page summary is as much as I want to know.

And that's why I'm still reading 2006.
Heh. I'm finding the NYer challenge a little bit addictive now. Instead of surfing the internet, I pick up the magazine and read a short article. I moved twice, in 2006 and 2009, and both times the backlog of magazines went into recycling. I'm grateful that you kept yours. You're not too far from 2007, and in theory you just have to read them faster than they arrive and you'll eventually catch up.

syyskuu 13, 2011, 10:40 am

29 - Me too, I'm actually happy that my self-imposed NYer holiday is over..... not that I've done more than read cartoons yet but the next issue is in my pile. I totally missed the surveillance stuff....

30 -I remember the McNair piece! The NYer loves these stories about scoundrels and rogues, and they are entertaining, no doubt about it!

I was a bit confused about the first para about Flaubert -- were these two prefacers are saying that Madame Bovary is less than a work of genius??? How peculiar! A Sentimental Education is my favorite of his books (I haven't read them all, could not get into Salambo for instance. But SE is often very funny -- maybe it is something to do with his send-up of that kind of self-conscious, self-absorption. In Bovary I've never been able to get past this feeling that while he is showing how empty Emma's life is, so she can hardly help being as shallow as she is, at the same time he somehow can take it to the limit because she is a woman. I always felt something mean in it. He is kinder to Frederic - a man - at least, that is how I remember it. I could be so wrong. I was in my teens the first time I read Bovary, early thirties second time and when I read SE. I just felt that Flaubert had an inner lack of regard for women as full people that made Bovary possible for him to write in the ruthless way he did. I might not feel so judgmental about it now, or I might feel it even more. Who knows?

syyskuu 14, 2011, 10:16 pm

> grateful that I've kept mine??? And here I'm huffing and puffing to catch up; note that I've been doing that in spurts for at least a decade, and this is as close as I've gotten to the current date! And the books are multiplying too. Heeeeeelllllppppp.

syyskuu 15, 2011, 9:04 am

33: Yeah, I can read vicariously. :-)
Re multiplying books... all I can offer is sympathy from the similarly drowning. Earlier this year I'd actually gotten everything cataloged and shelved, for the first time ever. Now I have stacks of books on the floor again.

syyskuu 15, 2011, 9:12 am

I at least had all my tbr books on shelves. Perhaps foolishly I left some 'expansion room' -- well..... you know what happened then......

syyskuu 15, 2011, 11:30 am

All my books are on shelves, although not all of them are on shelves intended for books. And all of them are catalogued except for the drama books.

I'm trying to formulate a decision tree for deaccession, but it's still hard. I think the Dick Francis will be the next to go, as they do not comprise a series. I'll have to see what other stuff is on the top shelf. If I can move the other series to that shelf, and free up some space lower down... sigh.

syyskuu 15, 2011, 2:08 pm

You realize that 'normal' people would roll around on the floor laughing at the idea of our hemming and hawing over which books to get rid of!!!!

syyskuu 15, 2011, 7:24 pm

Not anyone I know! Maybe I'm just lucky.

syyskuu 17, 2011, 8:53 am

Reporting that I'm back in the saddle, haven't finished the July 4 issue, but I'm maybe 1/4 in..... I thought I would find a piece on on-line dating entertaining but so far it's a bit of a yawn. But it's a 'slender' issue and I should be able to get through it, today, I hope!

syyskuu 17, 2011, 8:58 am

Well, I'm decreeing a book moratorium for the weekend, because I'm ahead of schedule in reading, behind schedule in writing reviews, aspire to be done with June New Yorkers and make progress on February Scientific American.

syyskuu 17, 2011, 9:17 am

I won't leap into the next July issue, I promise! And I just remembered I'm supposed to boil 20 pounds of taters for the library fundraiser chicken thingie tomorrow so I've got to scoot!

syyskuu 17, 2011, 3:06 pm

June 13 & 20 done. Read Talk of the Town re climate change and disappointment in the Obama administration, the home movie of Freud, Sayed Ishaq Gailani of Afghanistan. Read James Surowiecki re Elizabeth Warren. Read the several Starting Out essays, none especially notable except Salvatore Scibona on St. John's College. Read the longer article by Jhumpa Lahiri, meh. Skipped Vladimir Nabokov. Read about Harriet Beecher Stowe and Uncle Tom's Cabin, which I have not read and maybe should; this article is a review / summary of Mightier Than the Sword by David S. Reynolds. Read the harrowing article by Aleksander Hemon about the death of his infant daughter from a brain tumor, and the imaginary brother of his other daughter who helped the family process the events and emotions. I was so absorbed, and so taken with the combination of unsentimentality and devotion and observation, that I have added his novels to my wishlist. Skipped the fiction, though this was the fiction issue. Skipped TV and cinema.

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 17, 2011, 7:19 pm

That Hemon piece was tough going indeed.

You are getting within spitting distance of me!!! Not the most attractive metaphor, but heck!

syyskuu 18, 2011, 9:21 am

Done with July 4. Skipped 'Super Sam' (late-blooming baseball player), read the "Letter from Luton" with dismay, skibbled through Paumgarten on online dating -- it got more interesting, or else my brain was working better when I went back to it. No conclusions, really, except that maybe it is a way to 'vet' people a little bit the way you would in the old days, real village to global village or something. The piece about Han Han was interesting in a way -- he was in my 'Why haven't I ever heard of him?' category that makes me glad to be reading the NYer since he is hugely important in China and thus hugely important. Fascinated too that he is also a race-car driver. The Julian Barnes SS was amusing, clever and (icky work) and poignant. I tend to find stories about writers teaching writing quite entertaining and this one is no exception...

I'll be amazed if I get through another NYer next week..... things are hotting up, getting busy. I am going on a trip Sept 28- Oct 4 that will involve several hours of flight time, and I like to take NYers so I can throw them away as I read. I find it so satisfying to stride through an airport terminal chucking them into bins as I go, my bag lightening up with every step, etc.

syyskuu 18, 2011, 9:28 am

44: Shoot, you slipped in as I was typing offline and had the momentary illusion that I'd caught up. I'm only one behind now, but I too need to shift attention elsewhere.

June 27, and thus June, done. Read Talk of the Town re Anthony Weiner, NAEP history scores, Hue-Man book store in Harlem. Read about Alice Walton and Crystal Bridges (aagh! the web pages slide around and won't stay put). I like the image of bidding for art while riding a horse, otherwise, well, art isn't a thing I get emotional about, whether it's in Arkansas or New York, and wow that's a lot of money. Now the architecture of building and landscape, that's interesting. Skipped ballet. Read about the financial shenanigans and trial of Raj Rajaratnam. Again a lot of money sloshing around, and this time as a game and for personal gain, with no social consciousness whatsoever. Read Adam Gopnik about learning to draw with Jacob Collins, and here art becomes interesting, described as a craft, and as an interplay of conceptual and perceptual. Read Nicholas Lehmann about cities, with references to several books: The Cosmopolitan Canopy by Elijah Anderson, The Rise of the Creative Class by Richard Florida, Triumph of the City by Edward Glaeser, Aerotropolis by John D. Kasarda / Greg Lindsay (an "entity" that doesn't conform to LT's author system), Arrival City by Doug Saunders, The Agile City by James S. Russell. Skipped fiction, music, theater, art, cinema.

syyskuu 18, 2011, 9:35 am

Wasn't that a great piece, the Gopnik? I'm intrigued too about the mention of the Lascaux drawings -- part of their beauty being maybe - that the artists didn't have their minds so crapped up as ours with various notions. It had a ring of something in it.

Don't worry. I have NO INTENTION of touching a NYer this week. I'll be curious, in fact, to see what articles grab you in this issue. I wasn't terribly grabbed by anything. -- oh and I forgot to mention a piece on a Hungarian modernist Laszlo Krasznahorkai - I've read a bunch of Gombrovitz (polish) and Handke (austrian) and some others and while.... hmm..... there is something in it, this obsessive close-up stuff, it is also, for me, side-stepping too many other ingredients of fiction-writing, becoming too narrow and too cerebral. In other words, I doubt I'll be reading any Laszlo. That said there are a few modernists I do like -- Lars Gustafson I have to make sure I've got his name right) being one -- but his work has this incredible 'soul' in it. I will say though that bits of the words and ideas of the writers I've mentioned have stayed with me, so there is something in it.

syyskuu 18, 2011, 9:48 am

46: Yes, re Gopnik, and I'm curious about the education of an art historian, that experience doing what artists do is not part of it. And re the Lascaux paintings, it's intriguing, the argument that the perceptual style is evidence of no language, no symbolism to get in the way.

syyskuu 18, 2011, 1:13 pm

Your list of articles is quite interesting. I may have to read a current issue!

In the meantime, back in the November 13, 2006 issue, I read
- an article by Ben McGrath on bicyclists in New York, known for their actions under the name 'Critical Mass' to make biking more supported (and the police more supportive)
- an article by Janet Malcolm, 'Strangers in Paradise', about Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas. Mostly about Alice, and mostly fascinating, bringing her more to the fore as a personality in her own right. What sticks with me most is the way Stein's heirs mistreated Alice after Stein's death, and comments by several men who met Stein on how sexy she was! Who would have thought it?
- an article by Cynthia Zarin about the Icelandic artist and designer Olafur Eliasson, which described his collaborative approach to design. Very interesting, in that it focuses on design as both an imaginative, artistic endeavor and an engineering problem.
- Rebecca Mead on the 'cosmetic-surgery cult', as she titled the piece.
- Rachel Cohen on Leonard Woolf's writing life. I didn't and don't know much about Leonard Woolf except by association with Virginia Woolf, and it was refreshing to read about him and his contributions to writing history and publishing, as well as his support for his wife.
- a review of the movie 'Fur' by David Denby that is definitely not favorable, but does praise Nicole Kidman for doing whatever odd little film that catches her interest.

I may finish 2006 before Thanksgiving!

syyskuu 18, 2011, 1:40 pm

I may have to read a current issue!

I've been somewhat tempted to alternate new and old, but so far I've stuck with chronological order because it's less confusing and I have hopes of getting current within a couple months. If I'd done the honorable thing and kept all the magazines that I didn't read in previous years, I might be extremely tempted to stay current but intersperse the backlog.

November 13, 2006

I think I read this one!

syyskuu 18, 2011, 2:58 pm

48 - I'm amazed by how much I remember from these old issues when you bring them up. The idea of Gertrude as sexy!

I was such a Bloomsbury maniac that I even read old Len's journals -- he wrote well, very clearly and concisely and I kept on going even though he was rarely emotionally revealing about anything to do with his private life. A very punctilious and kind person, but on the cool side, and, seemingly suited to be dedicated to VW's health and welfare, while having a very fulfilling life of his own.

syyskuu 18, 2011, 5:26 pm

Sexuality is so wrapped up with personal intensity that I don't doubt she could have caused men to react, her looks and bulk and preferences notwithstanding.

Alternating new and old wouldn't be a bad idea. I don't mean to say I never read the current issue, but I usually don't sit down to read all of it. Cartoons first (of course), and then if some title grabs me or if Jim talks about a particular article, I sometimes read it THAT VERY WEEK. Otherwise I just skim the TOC to see if something feels important to read immediately.

Did you know that Ross originally did not print a table of contents? When people objected, he said that it was meant to be read through from cover to cover. Eventually, he caved, of course, but for quite a few years, he held firm. I think I read that in Brendan Gill's Here at the New Yorker, many years ago, and it stuck with me.

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 19, 2011, 6:52 am

I think you're right about all of that -- Gertrude and the Ross detail.

syyskuu 20, 2011, 10:51 pm

July 4 done. Read Talk of the Town re Afghanistan, and Project Neon. Skipped baseball. Read about Luton and the English Defense League. Lovely. Read about online dating. The relationship laboratory, assessing stated vs actual preferences, can data analysis save people from themselves? Read about Han Han, who seems... accessibly excessive. Briefly Noted, of interest is Conscience: Two Soldiers, Two Pacifists, One Family by Louisa Thomas. Skipped fiction, dancing, cinema.

Have I caught up? My goal is to finish July by the end of September.

syyskuu 21, 2011, 9:45 am

Hooray! You have indeed caught up. I also have the same goal! I hope in Oct to jump up a bit to 2 a week at least some of the time, I'd like to get to within 6 weeks and maintain that..... I'll be taking a big pile with me on the 28th when I have two long plane flights going and returning (Oct 4). I can usually knock off two or three each way.

Or excessively accessible! Completely missed the Thomas book.....

syyskuu 21, 2011, 9:52 am

54: Or excessively accessible! That too.

I think feasible to get current w/ NYers by the end of the year, then in 2012 I'll concentrate on catchup with other magazines.

syyskuu 24, 2011, 2:25 pm

V. busy week, no NYer reading. Maybe a little tomorrow? I can't stand the idea of falling behind after all this effort.

syyskuu 24, 2011, 3:39 pm

Well, I'm away for the weekend, brought the new Nook and a book but not any magazines, which means I'll have five days after returning to read about 1-1/2 New Yorkers and 3/4 Scientific American.

syyskuu 25, 2011, 8:45 am

I finished the July 11 & 18 issue! I was so tired I went to bed early last night and so woke up insanely early and just made tea and hunkered down to do some serious readin'.
This is a great issue and I think you'll love it too -- even the poems are worth reading -- I think you'll like both of them (before air-conditioning, dinosaurs). The story is not anything special. The Sedaris is very funny, Jaron Lanier is the 'new' person I'd never heard of, a genius clearly and an intriguing person. Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook upper management fame, who I had heard of, was fascinating to read about - both her achievements and her attitudes, the article on Rwandan bicyclists was utterly riveting, heartbreaking, revelatory - Rwanda is, apparently, breathtakingly lovely.

Now I will rest on my laurels! I won't read any until I start my trip on the 28th. I will probably take four with me, two for the trip down and two for the trip back. I don't always get through them, but if there is a delay, well, I might regret having only four!

syyskuu 25, 2011, 10:24 am

I've read some of the articles -- Sedaris, and about Jaron Lanier. Have FB and Rwanda flagged to read. Not a poetry person but I'll try.

syyskuu 25, 2011, 10:48 am

Just zip through them. Both are very very accessible.

syyskuu 25, 2011, 6:09 pm

Time to take you back to 2006, November 20th issue. This one was a find!

James Surowiecki's Financial Page was, in hindsight, way off the mark. He assigns the Democrats the dominance in balancing the budget, and thinks the just-passed elections will not change things much. He also cites the previous two recessions in somehow predicting that we won't have another serious one soon. Alas.

Bill Buford introduces us to a man who can literally talk Turkey - the bird, that is. Joe Hutto can converse with the wild turkeys he knows and sometimes raises, and has raised seemingly dozens of other species as well, in his role as wildlife biologist. Just the idea of talking turkey had me open-mouthed.

William Dalrymple explores the tradition of oral storytelling in rural India, a skill and way of life threatened by literacy and other forms of narrative - i.e. tv. The thought of anyone being able to recite a story over six 8 hour nights is wildly impressive, but there is a whole family profession of it in the most conservative of India's regions, and the stories are being lost as people become (paradoxically) more educated.

Peter J. Boyer actually had me reading about Donald Rumsfeld! I wouldn't have believed it, but the article on Rummy and the controversy over which kind of war our military should be trained to fight was quite compelling.

Elizabeth Kolbert scared the living daylights out of me by quantifying how much carbon is being absorbed by the world oceans, and how this will increase the acidity of those oceans and affect the food chain therein.

Anthony Gottleib got me thinking about Decartes by reviewing two new books about the scientist and philosopher, known primarily for his pronouncement taken out of context of 'I think, therefore I am.' Decartes contribution to mathematics is generally lost in the shuffle. Now I have to go back and look for it. My friend the exuberant math teacher was on it right away, explaining all the basic stuff we take for granted that Decartes invented during his lifetime.

I skipped the reviews of Deftones, Dexter, Beethoven and Shostakovich, and the then-new Casino Royale. I had gotten enough goodies from this round!

syyskuu 26, 2011, 9:50 am

Interested enough in the Descartes article to find the electronic version: Cartesian coordinate system, analytic geometry, but I'm vague on details and context.

syyskuu 26, 2011, 12:51 pm

I remember all of those articles except the turkey man. I have a sibling (a linguist) who has memorized, in ancient Greek, the Odyssey and occasionally does recitations here and there -- (I can give you a link if you're interested to a brief clip of it) - it's not as hard as one might think as it repeats itself in ways that lend to remembering. It is my opinion that we don't use our memories as they are designed to be used.

syyskuu 26, 2011, 4:49 pm

Wow. I'm totally blown away by the idea of reciting the Odyssey in any language. I'd love a clip, thanks.

And I agree. The tropes and rhythms of oral works are designed to support our memory, and we don't use what we have as we might. Too much assistance from all our fine inventions. I suspect we have sacrificed the neural connections of memory for those of 'where to find it' - for instance, how many of us have forgotten the phone numbers programmed into our phones? Or the dates we used to memorize in history class - because we don't have to remember them anymore? The brain isn't a muscle, but it is a series of connections that need to be kept fresh, like paths through the forest that must be walked on to survive.

Oh. This makes me want to memorize poetry or speeches just for the pleasure of knowing I still can.

syyskuu 26, 2011, 11:26 pm

July 11 & 18 done. Read Talk of the Town re same sex marriage history from 1960s to present, and the giant Polaroid camera. Read James Surowiecki re tax evasion in Greece and "tax morale". Read David Sedaris re language instruction: "There's no discord in Pimsleur's Japan, but its Germany is a moody and often savage place". Read about Jaron Lanier and virtual reality and his disappointment with real reality. Read about Sheryl Sandberg and Facebook and women in high tech. Read about the Rwanda bicycling team, inspiring and unexpected, the things that resilient people grab hold of. Skipped fiction, theater, art, cinema, book discussion of pseudonyms. Nothing of note in Briefly Noted. Read the poems; liked the one about dinosaurs.

syyskuu 26, 2011, 11:30 pm

64: The brain isn't a muscle, but it is a series of connections that need to be kept fresh, like paths through the forest that must be walked on to survive.
That's a wonderful image.

syyskuu 28, 2011, 4:22 pm

I'm sufficiently absorbed in my current sf read that I had to tear myself out of it on the plane to read at least one NYer -- the July 25 issue. The first article is about 'the tiny house movement' - I have impulses in that direction so I read it with great interest. My work studio is ten by ten inside with a porch that is 5 by 10 and I sometimes day dream about living there..... the next piece was a looking back at the freedom riders by Calvin Trillin who followed the movement as a young reporter. He writes so well. Then came 'the person I'd never heard of' piece -- Elizabeth Badinter -- presently 'the' premier french intellectual/feminist. Her main beef these days, and I gotta say I can't disagree are the sort of La Leche clap trap/guilt trip. As a mother who nursed valiantly for about a year and then, after weaning, discovered my child is lactose intolerant (which, yes, includes breast milk! although not with anywhere near the disastrous effect of cow's milk) and that was why she was never hugely enthusiastic about didn't really agree with her! At the end of the piece there is a mention of the anthropologist Susan Blaffer Hrdy who has written fascinating stuff with a different outlook than Badinter (who is against any legislation that differentiates between men and women as 'the thin edge of the wedge'). Interestingly, the french have the best daycare anywhere in the world, and although women don't push through to the top posts, there are more of them in responsible positions than anywhere else. The piece had some amusing moments too -- a description of a speech in NY that infuriated feminists, you have to read it, since it is a bit unprintable on LT! I did not read about the Hedge Fund genius, and the Coover story was too clever by half. The review was a piece on Wilkie Collins whose stuff is now available for free on e-books and was marvelous. I loved The Moonstone and The Woman in White and may not be able to resist rereading them. All in all a pretty good issue.

syyskuu 28, 2011, 4:47 pm

67: Looking forward to July 25. I've read the little stuff, flagged the longer articles that I plan to read, including all you've mentioned. I too love the tiny houses, though I'm not sure where the books would go, and as a city dweller I'm an advocate of renovating the existing stock rather than building new. Some 15-20 years ago a friend enthused about Wilkie Collins and I read several, but I seem to have passed along the physical books, so my new Nook is just the thing for free ebooks.

syyskuu 28, 2011, 9:21 pm

Hmm, OK, read the article on Elizabeth Badinter. I suppose premier intellectuals don't go in for moderation. Re the speech, meh, strikes me as a stereotypically French criticism of Americans. Seems France has a different cluster of issues than the US, makes it difficult to assess opinions, though... I was rather immediately put off by her advocacy of the burqa ban. Breast feeding does attract ideologues. When I was born, in the late 1950s, breast feeding was deemed inferior to formula, to which I was allergic, and a period of maternal guilt and consternation ensued. And friends with children have twisted themselves into knots over whether / how long / where / when to breast feed; it's nearly impossible to make a decision for one's own circumstances, without also composing arguments against potential criticism and taking a stance.

syyskuu 29, 2011, 11:52 am

I truly don't know what I think about the burkah business -- I really don't. I have a real 'on the one hand' and 'on the other hand' -- I feel intuitively that it does matter more than it appears to, however, as it has to do with sexuality and the truly pathetic 'pity me, poor guy that I am, I can't control myself when I see a woman's ankles' problem. ' So, on the one hand, given that men run the world, they should have some ability to control their sexual urges, n'est-ce pas? And on the other, if some woman wants to run around in a sheet, well, why not? It's an interesting case where the more radical stance can appear to be restrictive of liberties. Restricting a minor liberty to preserve a wider liberty? I guess that is Badinter's logic. To many that feels dangerous.

syyskuu 29, 2011, 12:33 pm

Well, the burqa thing in France extends from precedents of banning religious symbols, so it's got a different twist than it would in the US. I have troubles with (a) making assumptions about the personal/cultural reasons behind clothing (recognizing that there are practical reasons for restrictions under some circumstances), and (b) creating yet another rule that targets the women. (And if we were to get rules banning external manifestations of sexist attitudes, I wouldn't be averse to a ban on nylons and makeup... (Well, actually, I would, but I chafe at expectations of proper formal presentation.)) Agreed, and having recently read Nine Parts of Desire and In the Land of Invisible Women, there's some serious weirdity going on re the devastating power of, for example, women's hair.

syyskuu 29, 2011, 5:44 pm


I'm so with you on the pantyhose front! I've never worn make-up beyond lipstick -- although I admit now I do use a pencil to 'enhance' my fading eyebrows just a tiny bit..... Delightfully just about no one except teen-aged girls wears make-up in VT and they don't dye their hair either..... I suppose a few do, who would know, but most don't bother. You have some all white haired women in their early forties who look fantastic!

syyskuu 29, 2011, 6:25 pm

I've actually never worn makeup, and it's been awhile since nylons, but there was pressure back in the pre-computer days, and there would be pressure again if I aspired to a position above nuts-and-bolts programming. As it is, I can usually get away with crunchy/techie attire. On formal occasions, family and friends are so stunned to see me in a skirt that accessories are unnecessary.

syyskuu 29, 2011, 9:46 pm

lol I eschew most makeup, but look rather dead without blusher and mascara. In New York, that's practically sacreligious, and when I recently told my sister I didn't wear foundation, she was shocked. I think she'd look just as good without it, myself. To my delight is no one ever believes how old I am - maybe that's because I don't use the usual gunk. Or maybe I'm just lucky.

Or maybe I have a picture in the attic.

syyskuu 30, 2011, 10:10 am

Snort! The skirt comment! and double snort for the portrait in the attic! Must try that!

Foundation is beyond mysterious to me. I cannot imagine putting gunk on my skin beyond a little bit of moisturizer.

Still haven't touched an August NYer and tomorrow is October....... I am relishing, for today anyway, being only one month behind.

syyskuu 30, 2011, 10:35 am

74: Or maybe I have a picture in the attic. LOL!

75: I'm done with July NYer! As of this morning. Hope to write it up before the end of today, but top priority is reading the last 60 pages of the current book. Sadly, I will not finish the February Scientific American, but I should be able to increase the pace in October now that the NYer feels under control.

syyskuu 30, 2011, 10:36 am

Congratulations! It's nice to be 'on the same issue' with you! I doubt I'll get to August until next week when I'm flying home.

syyskuu 30, 2011, 2:28 pm

July 25, and thus July, is done. Read Talk of the Town re unemployment, skimmed a couple of others. Read about tiny houses, Jay Shafer and Tumbleweed; tempting, but there's maybe a happy medium between 100sf and a mcmansion. Read Calvin Trillin re the Freedom Riders; the article begins with a paragraph about Ruby Bridges then veers elsewhere. Read about Elizabeth Badinter; comments above. Read about Ray Dalio and Bridgewater Associates, "everything is a machine", as much as anything because I've been rather vague about what a hedge fund is; can't say I feel especially enlightened now. Read about Wilkie Collins; I've read The Woman in White and The Moonstone and maybe one other, but too long ago for memories. Read Paul Goldberger re Zaha Hadid, was more interested in the building that wasn't shown, the Evelyn Grace Academy. Skipped fiction, theater, music, cinema.

I should be working now...