Monday, July 11, 2005

july 11 & 18 New Yorker issue and some notes on past issues

For those of you in the Pittsburgh area, you'll be pleased to note that I (only recently) read the nyer's Gertrude Stein article from this spring on the shores of Lake Erie, at that park everyone is so fond of. I liked it too, it was my first trip. Stupid me, I had the bikes locked to the car's bike rack (i'd been driving around town in between trips to the yough trail) and I forgot to bring the bike lock keys on the erie trip. So a leisurely trip around the island on my trusty bicycle is for another time. Oh wait, trusty bicycle has popped inner-tube from trip to local public pool. Any thoughts or advice on Lake Erie or public swimming in the area? Or the Gertrude Stein article?

As for this issue of the nyer, I liked the letters to the ed. I have liked them since the nyer started running letters to the ed - why shouldn't a news magazine be responsible to its readers? tho' I remember when I was little the magazine's disregard was part of its snob mystique. In any case, Kolbert's article on alaskan languages seemed too obviously motivated by personal and sentimental guilt, her relationship to her subject was uncomfortable, to say the least, and I think her perspective did limit her from addressing the kind of nuanced political and historical circumstances that Wilson (the letter-writer) calls to our attention. (p.10)

I also like Joan Acocella's writing, generally. On dance and other less mainstream arts, and she once wrote a smart piece on young adults. This is difficult in the nyer, where they like to publish sentimental (this word again, an nyer theme?) crap about the writers' kids - see Denby and Gopnik. even her little sidebar on Merce Cunningham is nice, "Climaxes, he once said, are for those who get excited over New Year's Eve." Smart quote, but smart use of quote, too. (p.14)

Margaret Talbot's piece on Roald Dahl is pretty good . . . For some reaon though I find the end a little weak. Just sort of wanders off. And I think it needs this correction - my correction is in brackets (p.98),

"We believe that we understand and communicate with our children far better than our parents or grandparents did with theirs, and we therefore can't imagine that our kids could secretly feel oppressed by our reasonable and enlightened approach to child-rearing. [Our children's enjoyment of] Dahl's books mercilessly upend[s] this illusion of harmony."

For me, this addresses the dark heart of censorship, when it is not even individual works, but access to works that is the goal of censorship and not works, but our interpretations and uses of them that are troublesome. Which is where she starts the article.

Guantanamo piece was an odd but interesting form of journalism in this day and age - an exploration of the limits of what we can know about the government's uses of torture.

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