In this week’s New Yorker

March 9, 2011

The crunchiest, good-for-you feature in the magazine this week is a long slog — a meticulously reported piece by Raffi Khatchadourian (who wrote the now-famous profile of Julian Assange for the New Yorker) about the clean-up effort after the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The takeaway is quite surprising: what sounded like the most heinous and irreparable environmental disaster ever perpetrated by humans has actually been dispersed with remarkably little lasting harm, or much less than anyone feared. This is partly because everyone involved, especially Louisiana residents riding herd on British Petroleum with President Obama weighing in and kicking ass, threw every resource available into the cleanup. But the other hidden bit of information is that ocean has remarkable properties for absorbing and disarming toxic wastes. I keep forgetting that the earth is an organism that has its own quite powerful immune system.

Other than that, I appreciated John Lahr’s reviews of That Championship Season and Good People, which confirmed my suspicions. He especially voices my sentiments about David Lindsay-Abaire as a playwright of the Paint-by-Numbers school.

And the single most delightful story is a second helping from Tina Fey’s forthcoming book Bossypants, “Lessons from Late Night,” which includes my favorite footnote since Mary Roach’s book Bonk. In the section where she says  “the staff of Saturday Night Live has always been a blend of hyper-intelligent Harvard boys…and gifted visceral, fun performers,” she notes, “I say Harvard ‘boys’ because they are almost always male, and because they are usually under twenty-five and have never done physical labor with their arms or legs. I love them very much.”

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