Posts Tagged ‘alice munro’

In this week’s New Yorker

August 22, 2012

Some amazing stuff, starting with the cover, a characteristically dense, witty Bruce McCall special called “A Greener, Greater New York” (see above). Four pieces stand out for me in particular:

* Leo Carey’s biographical essay on Stefan Zweig, the once-famous Austrian writer and biographer whose name I’ve heard but never knew much about (he and his second wife committed suicide together in Brazil in 1942, in despair over the future of Europe);

* Alice Munro’s “Amundsen,” long, slow, and satisfying as her stories usually are;

* Jon Lee Anderson’s harrowing “Letter from Syria” (I hope he didn’t have to witness first-hand all the brutality he reports in the story); and most of all,

* “Altered States,” Oliver Sacks’s astonishingly candid Personal History essay (an excerpt from his forthcoming book Hallucinations) about his personal use of LSD, peyote, morphine, amphetamines, and other recreational drugs, which ranged from loosely controlled scientific research to the kind of self-isolating absorption that worried his closest friends.


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. “

Quote of the day: WRITING

March 17, 2010


It’s not possible to advise a young writer because every young writer is so different. You might say, “Read,” but a writer can read too much and be paralyzed. Or, “Don’t read, don’t think, just write,” and the result could be a mountain of drivel. If you’re going to be a writer you’ll probably take a lot of wrong turns and then one day just end up writing something you have to write, then getting it better and better just because you want it to be better, and even when you get old and think “There must be something else people do,” you won’t quite be able to quit.

— Alice Munro

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