December 24 and 31:
Because this actual issue is lost in the hodgepodge of my vacation abode, I have to rely on the online Table of Contents, which doesn’t list all the Talk of the Town contributors (neither does the one in the magazine).
Though none of the fiction grabbed neither my mother’s nor my hearts or minds, it was a decent issue in terms of gender breakdown:
14 dudes and (including the cover and counting both of Grace Paley’s stellar poems two times) 6 womens – an almost 2:1 ratio is actually a super sweet proportion for the NYer.
That Raymond Carver thing really taught me the value of a good editor – what a long-winded paper-waster the original story was! But I have never been able to sink my teeth into even well-edited Carver, so please take my haughty opinion with many grains of salt. And I know I’m not supposed to say this, but I could totes have written a better short story than “The Arbus Factor” – does anyone else get the feeling that they sometimes toss quirky stories like that in in a bid to placate whiny critics (like me) accusing them of only publishing stories like the Updike fiction in the 1/7/08 issue? But it’s not really fair to whine either way, so please excuse that last sentence.
And maybe right here is a good spot to say that the reason – in case anyone was wondering – that I criticize the NYer so much is because I have a profound love for the fucking magazie. I feel I should periodically toss that out there.
The January 7, 2008 issue is a fairly good example of why:
Nice advocacy journalism from Carol Elliott, fascinating piece by Burkhard Bilger (god, I worked as a secretary in the Art Department at Simon and Schuster when his book Noodling for Flatheads was coming out, and the strange string of words “Noodling for Flatheads by Burkhard Bilger,” together with the accompanying strange cover design, still pops into my head at random times, 7 years later.), a good hatin’ on Giuliani from our pal Elizabeth Kolbert, and though not exactly my cup of tea, admittedly flawless Updike fiction. I had a sneaking suspicion that “The Prophet” was pretty much pap and was glad to see my suspicions pretty much confirmed by Joan Acocella. And finally – though David Denby is, as he himself admits, not “a good enough person” (I’d agree) his movie-reviewin’ chops just keep getting tighter. Tight chops, that one.
But I have to comment on these utterly strange Renaissance Hotel ads (click on “Stay Interesting”) – the one on page 3 of this issue literally made my stomach ache. Oh, the slight shame of reading a magazine that accepts ads that unapologetically advocate a lifestyle in which resort goers have latter day kinda fashionably dressed slaves (3 out of 4 of them white, I wonder how that compares to the actual make up of their staff) breathlessly waiting to wrap you in a luxurious color-coordinated robe and offer you fresh lemony water and out-of-season fruit off gorgeous Eva Zeizel platters. Also – do they literally have an ocean that terminates in a pool, and if so how did they get approval from the EPA or whoever for that, and what about the tides? I love, however, that the two dudes are staring at her breasts and the lady is staring at her like “I’ma cut you, ho.”
Moving along –
Talk of the Town:
by men: 4
by women: 1
rest of mag (including the cover, not including cartoons):
by men: 8
by women: 4
(The NYerWbW is a regular feature whereby my mother and I keep track of the male/female breakdown in The New Yorker magazine.)