For a while I did this thing
which I’m sure you know about
because WHY ON EARTH would anyone start reading this blog / I’m guessing anyone currently reading this blog has been reading it for years because maybe they made a bookmark for it and/or get it in their email and it’s just one of those weird habits they idly do even though if they were to really analyze it they don’t quite know why anymore because lawd knows I never talk about anything new, just the same topics again & again.
anyway so I did this thing where I analyzed The New Yorker looking for gender parity because even though I’ve been reading the magazine since I learned how to read sometimes I have issues with it, as one sometimes does, & it helped to take each issue and see how many men and how many women wrote it. And sometimes I tried to do race stuff but mostly that involved too much Googling.
Veronica mentioned that maybe I should do a NYerWBW for old times’ sake since she knew I was in Hawaii which is where I finally catch up on NYers and I thought, why not.
I’m not really going to tally up the numbers though, because I am far too lazy but I’ll tell you something: I feel like there are a lot more women and a lot more people o’ color writing for the mag than in recent times, don’t you? My completely unscientific gut feeling is that things have shifted more than a little, and now someone will be all “actually: SO NOT TRUE” and I’ll feel stupid, but ah well. Feelings!
So I’ve got seven issues for you and all I’m really up for is telling you what I liked from ’em. Then you do the same, OK?
Here we go.
Any Dan Chiasson piece is a treat, right? And what I mean by that is that anytime a popular magazine actually writes about poetry I get all frantic and flushed and happy like maybe there’s hope for the world after all. Also I like Chiasson’s writing just fine. I should really check out some of his poems. Bet they’re gems. His piece on Marianne Moore was insanely fascinating, as basically any piece devoted to the domestic life of any poet probably will be (it’s ridiculous to say that all poets have interesting—or at least devastating, in some way—lives but I’ma say it anyways), but seriously—Marianne Moore’s life was insane! Had no idea. Also: maybe someday should read some Marianne Moore. She’s a poet my mom likes. She loves the modernists, & she was at Bryn Mawr when Moore was at her height.
Levy is my current favorite New Yorker regular, I love her slavishly, and reading this literal gut-bomb gave me such a stomachache that I had to take a walk for a while afterward.
I thought it was a bit bizarre how she refused to mention the gender of her spouse, however. I’m assuming it was because the story was so intense that she wanted to keep any politics out of it, but it was a sour note for me that the woman who basically wrote the book on being a lesbian bride wouldn’t just say “her” instead of “my spouse” repeatedly—at some point casually mentioning being queer has to cross over from obliquely being a political statement and into just telling it like it is, right? Can’t we be at that fucking point, yet? But you know what, whatever. After what she went through, she can phrase things however she likes. I just want her to heal, and feel OK again.
The Shouts & Murmurs immediately following the Levy blindsiding, however, (stupidly not online) was not only one of those truly funny Shouts & Murmurs you get every 6 months or so, it made me feel like I could keep breathing long enough to continue with the issue. This entire issue was pretty readable, really—the long piece on the obstacles to legalizing pot; the craziness of the tomb-raiders in Egypt after the Arab Spring, I’ll never turn down a Eugenides short story, & there was even Sasha F-J on Katy Perry right after she was apparently sighted on the beach next-door to the beach I was on.
All that & a Tomine cover, too.
What the hell is this, the Tech issue? Isn’t that every issue? Why didn’t they put that profile of the Square guy they just did in this issue? Michael Cera wrote the Shouts & Murmurs? Wow, younger & younger whiteboys with their classist humor, yay yay yay. Nothing about this issue didn’t make me vaguely want to throw something except that CRAZY article on “Between,” (not online grr) which is this app that South Koreans use to keep track of their relationships and make them insanely claustrophobic, which blew my mind. THE INTERNET IS INSANE IN SOUTH KOREA, is what you need to know in case you didn’t already know.
What is one to make of the fiction please tell me. A friend of mine mentioned she couldn’t decide whether or not she loved it or hated it, and I agree, though I’m leaning toward the latter, as I always lean when Older Men Write About Young Women & And How Quirky They Are.
China is insanely full of pollution which is killing everyone, which we all knew, but there are some people fighting back against it, which was nice to read about, though guilty-making since I was reading it while breathing the sparkling-clean air of the least polluted place in all of America, at least according to me.
Interesting piece about “a custody fight in California,” articles like these which used to make me feel like “women’s issues” were something Remnick & co occasionally threw a bone at are more frequent now, it seems. Not at frequent as they should be (nor are they “women’s issues”) but it’s something & I’ll take it.
I loved the fiction, by Rivka Galchen, and I love the graphic design of the title page for it, on p. 74, so much I ripped it out and gave it to Jacob as “inspiration” for the new line of chocolate bar wrappers he’s designing for us.
Whatever these words were by James Wood, they exemplified for me Why The New Yorker Is Only Read By White People Who Live on the Upper West Side and even though I was secretly interested in them I skipped them on principle.
Just gonna say, this issue was insanely dude-penned (and also more-so-than-usually about white dudes, too.). Of the names on the Table of Contents (that is: skipping the Talk of the Town), 11 are dudes and 3 are not-dudes. Which is totes OK because that’s an exact gender breakdown of the population of the US, anyway. Without exhaustive Googling it appears roughly 95% white (oh, Hilton Als!), which is also accurate in terms of who we are as a people, so we’re all good here. Sigh.
EVERYTHING IS OK THOUGH BECAUSE THE NEXT ISSUE HAS NELSON MANDELA ON THE COVER.
December 16, 2013
Excellent Kolbert, but there is nothing but, so there we are.
Don’t know why I read that whole article about blah blah Kirsten Gillibrand, but now I know a lot more about my Senator though I don’t feel any differently about her: she’s an insider in an insider’s world, hooray.
Ahhh that piece about forging that Galileo book was RIDICULOUS.
I like Rae Armantrout. I like it when her words are in the magazine.
Pollen on intelligent plants! It’s online, read it!
It’s circulating in my circle a bit, maybe yours, too?
Obviously I read it & now I’m no longer vegan.
Actually I read it & love plants even more than I already do & it gave me lots of good reasons for being vegan & eating plants not only because obviously if you want to save plants you have to be vegan because so many more plants are consumed when you consume animals blah blah cycling grain through meat etc etc baby stuff.
I was so gratified to know that it debunked some of The Secret Life of Plants, because that book was popular when I was a baby a/r activist (it came out in 1973 and I started doing animal rights around 1992 when I was 14ish & that shows you how behind the trends Arizona is) & I constantly had to justify why eating plants was OK when they loved Mozart so much & it got real old.
How crazy that plants are so busy though, right? Always fidgeting & sending secret symbols & chemically chatting & things.
“A plant has a modular design, so it can lose up to ninety per cent of its body without being killed,” he said. “There’s nothing like that in the animal world. It creates a resilience.”
Indeed, many of the most impressive capabilities of plants can be traced to their unique existential predicament as beings rooted to the ground and therefore unable to pick up and move when they need something or when conditions turn unfavorable. The “sessile life style,” as plant biologists term it, calls for an extensive and nuanced understanding of one’s immediate environment, since the plant has to find everything it needs, and has to defend itself, while remaining fixed in place. A highly developed sensory apparatus is required to locate food and identify threats. Plants have evolved between fifteen and twenty distinct senses, including analogues of our five: smell and taste (they sense and respond to chemicals in the air or on their bodies); sight (they react differently to various wavelengths of light as well as to shadow); touch (a vine or a root “knows” when it encounters a solid object); and, it has been discovered, sound.
I really like that phrase “the sessile life style.” (A weird NYer quirk is to spell lifestyle with a space, eh? I love finding those.)
Also right outside my door are Mimosa Pudica, or, as I call them, “open-close-ies” & after reading about how smart they are I went outside and stared at them for a while in awe.
As I’ve stated here before, I don’t enjoy the wordy stylings of one Adam Gopnik, so I grudgingly read his piece on the Beatles and Duke Ellington, which to my annoyance was thoroughly enjoyable. Then again I have a slavish and obsessive affection for the stupid Beatles so what do you expect.
How many Seamus Heaney poems do you think The New Yorker publishes a year?
My guess is 52.
Nothing really grabbed me from this one, except I guess the piece on the street dancing by an egotistical dude & amazing dancer named Storyboard P. Then again, I read the whole issue today on the beach, sun-drunk, lazy, watching the waves out of the corner of my eye.
But hey, there was a Dan Chiasson poem! & it was a gem.