New Yorker’s 40 under 40

June 22, 2010

We have seriously slacked off here. Let’s say this: The big fan 40-under-40 fiction issue arrived in our mailbox in Dubuque FOUR DAYS LATE. On a Friday, when usually the New Yucker arrives on a Monday or Tuesday. I guess they wanted to increase our anticipation.

They failed. The 40 under 40 just aren’t the most impressive writers on the planet, but we know it’s subjective. Did they REALLY need to include both Nicole Krauss and her husband, what’s his name?

Anyway…never mind picking on the literati; how’s the writing in this issue, and in future issues? Good question. We haven’t gotten to it yet. We’re just as lame as this blog. And in fact, it’s probably time to take a long hiatus from this blog, because it’s averaging two hits a day. Yes, two. And we’re too busy to do the job that should be done raking over the New Yucker.

We will probably be back from time to time, but the pressure to do this every week, when we have our own bad novels to splice commas in, is hard. So just don’t expect regular posts. We’d like to come back at some point, but life interferes.

Meanwhile, here’s some more lit gossip. Sports writer, one-time founder of the Black Table, and even sometime young-adult writer Will Leitch has finally gotten married after at least 17 failed attempts (he wrote about his first one). Congratulations to Leitch and the lovely Southern belle he has embraced.

That is all for now, but add comments!

Where’s our New Yorker?!?!?!?

June 9, 2010

How are we supposed to have at it with the new literary wunderkinds if the postman won’t deliver the latest issue to our mailbox in Dubuque?! We are waiting with fanged breath. Today is Wednesday, and we know it must come by today. We’re crouching in the dandelions just near the curb, my pretties, all coiled up and hissin’.

New Yorker debut fiction issue

June 7, 2010

Well, it’s time for us to get back from our lazy siesta.  Actually we’ve been busy, but that is no excuse.  There’s so much to analyze in the in the magazine of literary record.

Publisher’s Lunch tells us the following (see below), so as soon as the issue slides into our mailbox in Dubuque, we will have our special reaction.

By the way, isn’t it great that under 40 is the new standard for young writers, not 35 anymore?  We sure hope they aren’t including photos of the writers like they used to.   These are not spring chickens, people.   The photos of contributors should wait until the swimsuit issue.

From Publisher’s Lunch:

The New Yorker has three stories from their new 20 under 40 issue–by Gary Shteyngart, Salvatore Scibona, and Rivka Galchen–available at open online links. And the editors of the magazine discuss their choices here. “What we have tried to do, in selecting the writers featured in this issue, is to offer a focussed look at the talent sprouting and blooming around us. These writers (stories by eight of them appear here; twelve more will follow, one at a time, in the next twelve issues) are hardly the only gifted storytellers of their generation. Some terrific candidates were excluded solely because they didn’t have a new piece of fiction available by our deadline.” But “these twenty men and women dazzlingly represent the multiple strands of inventiveness and vitality that characterize the best fiction being written in this country today.”

Sorry for the slacking; we’re back

May 26, 2010

There’s just no excuse for slacking off. Each week, new issues of the New Yorker come for to pick on. But we’ve been busy. There’s lots to do in Dubuque. Just last week the mailbox needed repolishing so we can receive our dispatches from our intellectually superior brethren in the East.

Here’s the lowdown on the May 31, 2010 New Yorker:

-The cover. Strikingly similar to a cover they had about two and a half to three years ago. Well, okay, the drawings of people are similar, so it may just be the artist. Still, we accidentally almost left this week’s issue in the mailbox, figuring it was just delivered again by accident, and really really late.

For Medical Dispatch: Jerome Groopman takes on a certain material that is frightening to everyone who’s seen “The Graduate” (or last week’s “60 Minutes”): “Plastics.” More specifcally, are there chemicals in them that are a threat to us and our children, or is this just hype? Should we not take a risk? And a question we here would like to add: What if you cook stuff on a plate that you later realize wasn’t labeled microwave safe? We do this all the time.

In Shouts & Murmurs, Paul Rudnick takes on a subject who is little too easy. For criticism, we mean. We’re talking about MTV reality star Heidi Montag, who’s been in the news for having 10 plastic surgeries in one day. Paul, does that mean you’ve seen the show? So like should she totally drag Spencer Pratt in for mental health counseling, and why does Lo Bosworth roll her eyes at everyone? Up next week: A Shouts & Murmurs about Brodie Jenner.

Jonathan Franzen writes fiction (bravo!) in the voice of someone much like Heidi Montag as imagined by Paul Rudnick.

Here is an article we really don’t get: Patricia Marx offers serious and strange gifts for the college grad. Why does this merit nearly four pages? Next time just get Junior Junior, Jr. a subscription to a magazine. The price is right. Or, subscribe them to this blog – the price is even righter.

The New Yorker is unconcerned with baseball pedantry

May 4, 2010

In last week’s New Yorker, a pedantic baseball fan (is there any other kind?) wrote in to say that the previous week’s cartoon was WRONG WRONG WRONG! It involved a Yankee player. The offense?  The guy in the cartoon had facial hair, which the real-life Yankee manager does not allow.

If you New Yorker pansywaist cartoonists were real men and watched sports, you might have noticed!!!

Nothing else remarkable in that issue, or we can’t remember.  On to the next, which should arrive at our big Rural Route mailbox today, out here in Dubuque.

What’s bad for book publishing in Europe is good for America?

April 21, 2010

Publisher’s Lunch ran a story yesterday suggesting that the Volcano, which has put a damper on things at the London Book Fair, may bring more life to the Book Expo America next month in New York, because people now have to focus attention there.  This is no time to cheer, but it makes sense.  It’s too bad a Volcano has to cause such harm, but we suppose we’ll see you all at BEA.

New Yorker 4/19/2010

April 18, 2010

Several good articles this week.  Alec Wilkinson writes about Swedish explorers who took a hot-air balloon to the Arctic (sounds deadly already, right?) in 1897 and never returned. Their bodies were found 30 years later…as well as journals detailing their every move.  The journals are fascinating.

Peter Hessler writes about moving to the Rocky Mountains with his wife after 15 years in China.  Also a great piece.

Now, can we please not ruin these two pieces by trying to stretch them to book-length in order to make a quick buck, as New Yorker writers often do when their articles are popular?  Pretty please?  With ice on top?

Nice cartoon on page 4 of an airplane announcement:  Please turn off your eBooks.  You laugh…

Lauren Collins exhibits brilliant writing in her piece on George Steinmetz’ photos of the Sahara.  But what is this word, jerrican?  It wasn’t in our SAT books.

Then the story about a new book on Time publisher/editor/founder Henry Luce. The story talks about his mini-war with Harold Ross, who founded the New Yorker around the same time, in the same building.  Ross gleefully proclaimed that the magazine was “not edited for the old lady in Dubuque.”   Yes, because there is a way to edit that still keeps writing so complicated no one understands it except the writer – and that’s a GOOD thing?  Or is it the opposite of what an editor should do?!

 Time then observed that the old lady likely said, “They should learn that there is no provincialism so blatant as that of the metropolitan who lacks urbanity.”  How true.  We meet a lot of New Yorkers like that.  They don’t know the geography of anyplace outside of New York.  But gosh, they’re so darn cosmopolitan!

That’s why this blog enjoys poking at the New Yorker now and then.  (Yeah, and occasionally praising it.)

Speaking of pointing out the problems…

Bruce McCall’s Shouts & Murmurs piece would be understood by any reader in Iowa, as well as the 12-year-olds who subscribe to MAD, because it’s satirical – but no more funny than the kinds of things a group of middle school kids would write for their student magazine.  It’s called “Living Up to Your Prius” and is a list of environmentally friendly things a Prius owner might do to live up to such a standard.  While it passes for humor, it does beg the question we ask here all the time:  If someone else unknown to “The Magazine” hadn’t written it, would it have been accepted?

Again, a big NO.

New Yorker, 04/12/10

April 13, 2010

That’s ‘ridiculous’!

We’re quite far behind in analyzing last week’New Yorker — in fact, we’re so far behind that we just got the new one in the mail before we could catch up with last week’s (and it’s actually compelling reading, so that one may take a few days to get to.)  Last week’s was not compelling and we were loath to comment on it.

Except that we must highlight one of the first stories, a Talk Piece that starts off in a condescending way, attempting to make a weather forecaster look stupid by putting his rank in quotes and noting that he only has a Bachelor’s Degree (did some of the long-time New Yorker writers even graduate from college?)  There are more subtle words to make the point; why start off the story with such supercilianimity?  (We just made that word up.)

Elizabeth Kolbert writes:

Joe Bastardi, who goes by the title “expert senior forecaster” at AccuWeather, has a modest proposal. Virtually every major scientific body in the world has concluded that the planet is warming, and that greenhouse-gas emissions are the main cause. Bastardi, who holds a bachelor’s degree in meteorology, disagrees. His theory, which mixes volcanism, sunspots, and a sea-temperature trend known as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, is that the earth is actually cooling. Why don’t we just wait twenty or thirty years, he proposes, and see who’s right? This is “the greatest lab experiment ever,” he said recently on Bill O’Reilly’s Fox News show.

Bastardi’s position is ridiculous (which is no doubt why he’s often asked to air it on Fox News). Yet there it was on the front page of the Times last week. Among weathermen, it turns out, views like Bastardi’s are typical. A survey released by researchers at George Mason University found that more than a quarter of television weathercasters agree with the statement “Global warming is a scam,” and nearly two-thirds believe that, if warming is occurring, it is caused “mostly by natural changes.” (The survey also found that more than eighty per cent of weathercasters don’t trust “mainstream news media sources,” though they are presumably included in this category.)

Far be it for we to suggest that a magazine writer should withhold her opinion, and use the facts to tell the story.  This is a magazine, not a straight piece of journalism.  However, as liberal-leaning sorts ourselves, we have to ask: isn’t part of being a liberal pretending to be open-minded to other points of view, so that the right-wingers have no idea of our real agenda? By revealing your instant closed-mindedness, Liz, you’re letting the ever-cooling earth know that you are really only open-minded about left-leaning points of view similar to yours.  Gosh, this is shocking!

A blog called Climate Realists has a response from Bastardi, who clearly is not a great writer:

We finally have an objective way of measuring temps, and they are obviously afraid that their answer is wrong.

I am growing weary of stating the obvious.. in a fight that is a side issue to me. My agenda is nailing the weather, not saving the planet. I believe what I believe based on research to get to the correct forecast on anywhere from a day to a multi-decadal trend. That the IPCC is busting on lower trop temps, upper trop temps, the stratosphere, the positive feedback, and the death to the ice cap people have now also been beaten back , at least for the time being, should make any person of good will understand there is room for a debate here…

A nation that has homeless and uninsured should not be dumping money into chasing something that may not be there, when we have problems that are there. I am sorry that my old New England John Kennedy roots come out with that statement, actual concern for what I know to be rather than a ghost that may not be there…

by 2030 we will return to where we were at the end of the last cold PDO, in the 70’s…

So that we don’t steal all of the website’s, ha ha, thunder, here is Bastardi’s full statement.

Some further searching shows that Kolbert is not the first to criticize Bastardi, or to use a very similar statement about Fox. writes:

Accuweather’s meteorologist Joe Bastardi likes to push anti-science global cooling conspiracy theories, which is no doubt why Fox News extremists like Bill O’Reilly love him.

In any case, we are here to make fun of the New Yorker, not Bastardi, who apparently has enough facets that can be derided — he’s a bodybuilder, and he launches into strange invectives against the National Weather Service.  But it seems to work for him.  He married a 26-year-old when he was 37.

Elvis Costello was almost right.  You’re nobody ’til everybody thinks you’re a Bastardi.

New Yorker: 04/05/2010

March 30, 2010

We see no major comma problems during a cursory check in this week’s New Yorker (but send ’em if ya spot ’em!).  So let’s look at:

Cartoons: The IRS cartoon that starts on page 52 and finishes on 53 is pretty good.  Page 77 good also:  Differences between male and female priorities.

And later…sigh…another dull cartoon by Roz Chast. It is nice that the New Yorker publishes someone who (presumably) has a vagina, even if she’s very ‘chast’ with it, but what’s funny about this cartoon?  It’s a typical night in most people’s house.  Men and women have this same conversation all the time about clothes.  It’s a cliche.  Even Mad Magazine wouldn’t recycle it in “The Lighter Side Of…Marriage.”

Zo vut else?

Nick Paumgarten wrote a Shouts piece about Neil Young and Jonathan Demme Skyping.  It starts boring and continues to be boring.  We suppose the excitement is that two withered vets of their respective industries are using the new technology.  But it’s not.  Exciting, that is.  I’m sure it will appeal to fans of either man; not many others.

Adam Gopnik writes about “Le Fooding,” a seemingly down-to-earth French culinary movement.  “Le Fooding,” really?  That sounds about as French as “El Foodito” would sound Spanish.  We must stop here to comment:  Why is it that during a recession, everyone seems still obsessed with one of the unnecessary pleasures in life – unusual food – if travel and recreation are down?  Someone should write a piece on that, or on how Neil Young feels about it.

We just read the contributors’ list.  Two of them have children’s books coming out.  Way to ride a trend.

Jeffrey Goldberg’s “The Hunted,” about two conservationists, gets interesting later on in the piece.  If only he hadn’t dithered so much in the beginning.

We’re getting sick of our own criticism.  Back next week.

New Yorker: 3/29/2010

March 24, 2010

Crap.  Another good issue of the New Yorker.

But just like with a Purdue chicken, we can always find something to pick on.

Let’s call the roll:

Joyce Carol Oates has a short story.  It appears to be written in a youngster’s voice.  She’s used up every adult plot possible, so it only makes sense.   The bio up front says that her most recent novel was published in January.  That’s no surprise.  Doesn’t she publish one ever four weeks?  Even Ann M. Martin wasn’t that fast.

While we’re here, let’s critique an ad.  It’s an ad for the new Hotel Hershey. No, that’s not a nickname for my derriere.  It’s about the actual hotel in Hershey Park.  The ad shows a girl eating a brownie and drinking chocolate milk with it.  Like anyone’s parents let them get away with that just because it’s Hershey.  Anyway, they should be running this ad during Saturday morning cartoons and hit families where the real influence lies.

By the way, when our families went to the hotel decades ago, all we got was a lousy chocolate bar at check-in.  Big frickin’ deal.

Three pages later:  An ad for Lu biscuits in chocolate.  Not to favor the French over the American, but guess which chocolate I’d rather eat…

Elizabeth Kolbert writes about a bat census in Vermont.  Apparently most of them did not turn in their forms on time.

Oh, and according to Lauren Collins, there is a new reality show coming.  This one is like “Jersey Shore,” but it follows the Russians at Brighton Beach. No, we are not joking.

In an effort to address the magazine’s key demographic, Judith Thurman writes about wrinkles and treatments for such — quite topical, so to speak.

And one fascinating fact in Jill Lepore’s story on marriage therapy:  eHarmony claims to be responsible for one out of every fifty weddings in the U.S.!  Okay, so how many is JDate responsible for in New York?

Finally, letters:  Someone writes in to comment on Keith Gessen’s article on the recent Ukranian election.  The person has the name of Edyta Bojanowska, so we know he or she knows his or her stuff.  However, we were not as impressed to find out the Americanized version of the name: Eddie Bauer.

Comment below!