In this week’s New Yorker

March 23, 2012

The Style Issue features several articles that reveal in great, sometimes disheartening detail how things are made these days:

* John Seabrook’s closely observed story about Ester Dean and the phenomenon of “top-liners,” the people who create the semi-coherent, fragmented, not-quite-lyrics that accompany hit singles these days…and make beaucoup bucks at it;

* Jonah Lehrer’s entertaining profile of Roger Thomas, in-house designer for Steve Wynn’s over-the-top Vegas hotels, whose obscenely luxurious decor apparently boost casino income exponentially;

* Ian Parker’s preview (“Expletive Not Deleted”) of the forthcoming HBO comedy series “Veep,” whose British show-runner Armando Iannucci apparently keeps a stable of writers onhand who specialize in supplying high-volume zesty swearing for his hit shows (such as the BBC’s “The Thick of It”). The series stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus as the vice president who refers to her bumbling staff as “the Keystone Cunts” and in one scene is heard to say, “Well, God bless the President. he is really a great man. but he is busting my fucking lady balls here.”

Another highlight is the latest of Paul Rudnick’s laugh-out-loud Shouts and Murmurs pieces, this one a take-off on recent books touting the superiority of French women in all things. “To maintain my figure, I eat only half portions of any food, always arranging it on my plate in the shape of a semicolon. For exercise, at least once a day I approach a total stranger and slap him. And late each afternoon I read a paragraph of any work of acclaimed American literary fiction, which makes me vomit.”

Speaking of fiction, there’s also a story by Antonya Nelson, “Chapter Two,” that trafficks in the misrepresentation of what AA meetings are like, with what has become a fiction cliche, the supposedly sober character who drinks on her way to and from meetings. Yawn. It’s been done.

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