In this week’s New Yorker

April 30, 2010

Those who need a reason to renew — or begin — their admiration of Janet Malcolm (above) as a writer are directed to her report in this week’s New Yorker on a murder trial, “Iphigenia in Forest Hills.” The teaser on the newsstand cover captures the heart of the story: “The shooting of Daniel Malakov in front of his four-year-old daughter stunned a tight-knit Queens community. But when his wife stood trial for ordering the hit, the courtroom didn’t hear about the shocking injustice behind the crime.” But you have to read the entire piece to appreciate the multitudinous layers of Malcolm’s mastery: her scrupulous attention to the use of words, her simple yet deep explication of the occupations journalist and trial lawyer, her unerring journalistic objectivity and yet her unapologetic subjectivity (she tells you she doesn’t think the wife was guilty of hiring an assassin, and why), her fastidious laying out of all the facts in the case in such a way that, paradoxically, preserve several crucial mysteries.

Also in the magazine: a very thoughtful review by Hilton Als of the revival of La Cage aux Folles and Sondheim on Sondheim.

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