In this week’s New Yorker

June 20, 2011

I had the luxury today of sitting on my veranda for several hours this afternoon reading the entire issue of the New Yorker the day it arrived in the mail.  Unprecedented! A slightly guilty pleasure but a reward to myself after a period of many days hard work without a break.

Some good stuff I might have skipped on a busier weekday: Rebecca Mead’s profile of Alice Walton, the Wal-Mart heiress who’s building an American art museum in Bentonville, Arkansas; Joan Acocella’s profile of American Ballet Theater’s new artistic director, the Russian emigre Alexei Ratmansky, whose work I now feel compelled to check out; and Adam Gopnik’s personal essay about taking drawing lessons, a humbling experience for a seasoned art critic.

And then there’s Alice Munro’s short story, “Gravel,” as deft and light-handed and remarkable as any Munro story (with the ultra-casual introduction of the central character’s lesbianism a typical Munro touch). I would love to know which editor matches up the New Yorker’s fiction with the photographs that illustrate them — it’s almost always a mysterious and perfect selection.

And Margaret Talbot’s commentary in Talk of the Town, in contrast to most of the media whirl, speaks sensibly about l’affaire Anthony Weiner: “If you were Anthony Weiner’s wife, you’d have your own concerns. But if you were his constituent, and thought he was doing a good job representing you, maybe you’d just as soon ignore his Internet amusements. That’s different from saying that what a politician does in private is never our business. It’s more a tacit acceptance that some of the qualities that launch people into public office—self-regard bordering on narcissism, risk-taking—can also launch them into risks of a more personal kind, and that this doesn’t inevitably reflect on their ability to govern. Maybe it’s an acknowledgment that sometimes there are more important things to talk about. “

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