Posts Tagged ‘hilton als’

In this week’s New Yorker

March 12, 2017

The March 13 issue is especially strong in both the feature well and the back of the book. I was edified by:

  • Jake Halpern’s report on a safe house in Buffalo designed to help refugees making their way to Canada from the U.S.;
  • “The Polymath,” the ever-brilliant Alec Wilkinson’s profile of Jack White, whose music (the White Stripes, etc.) has never interested me but who turns out to be a fascinating, adventurous, productive guy;
  • “Donald Trump’s Worst Deal,” Adam Davidson’s excellent follow-the-money expose of the current president’s unlawful business dealing with a legendarily corrupt Azerbaijani family — there are clearly innumerable stories like this to be told, not likely to result in impeachment given the Republican strangehold on Congress, but it’s an in-depth account of the thriving world of international corruption;
  • Ariel Levy’s characteristically exquisite and intimate profile of Catherine Opie, renowned photographer of communities on the edge (the New Yorker website and tablet app include a portfolio of 15 amazing Opie portraits and landscapes, including “Self-Portrait/Nursing,” below);

 

In last week’s New Yorker

May 1, 2016

This week’s issue of The New Yorker, the one with the instant-turnaround purple rain cover, has two pieces I highly recommend in categories the magazine is best-known for. Ian Frazier writes deep-dive articles in a folksy voice in the department called “Our Local Correspondents,” and this week he covers an issue near and dear to my heart: “The Bag Bill,” focusing on activist Jennie Romer and her campaign to reduce the number of plastic shopping bags we use because they do substantial environmental damages. Meanwhile, Eyal Press contributes “Madness,” a wrenching expose of how mentally ill inmates in Florida are routinely tortured.

erykah badu

Last week’s “Entertainment Issue” had a few good pieces, notably Adam Gopnik on Paul McCartney, Kelefa Sanneh on Erykah Badu  (above, photographed by Amanda Demme), and Emily Nussbaum on Kenya Barris, the creator of the TV show “black-ish.” I’ve never watched the show, but Barris is smart and funny, and Nussbaum is a terrific writer — she deserves the Pulitzer Prize for criticism she just won. Here’s the way that article ends:

In April, Barris’s family went on a vacation that could be taken only by people at the pinnacle of success. During a visit to New York, they saw “Hamilton” not once but twice. They also flew to Washington for the White House Easter Egg Roll, and were part of a V.I.P. group who met the President and the First Lady. “That’s our family,” President Obama told Barris, about “black-ish.”

Not everything went smoothly. After four hours at the White House, Barris, tired, insisted that they leave. Once they were outside, Kaleigh got a text from Anthony Anderson’s son: they’d just missed Beyoncé and Jay Z. Barris’s daughters were furious at their dad; tears formed in Leyah’s eyes. When he saw those tears, Barris lost it: “You just met the President!” They apologized. Barris stayed mad. But he was also inspired. “I texted Groff and said, ‘We have to use this next season.’ ”

But the week before that was an especially good issue. Aside from Hilton Als’s piece about Maggie Nelson (which inspired me to go out and buy her book The Argonauts) and Ariel Levy on the delightful eccentric artist Niki de Saint Phalle, the issue contains one of the most important political news stories I’ve read all year. Ben Taub’s “The Assad Files” is a long, strong reporting piece about the Commission for International justice and Accountability, an independent investigative body founded in 2012 by American lawyer Chris Engels which has been collecting hundreds of thousands of top-secret documents tracing the mass torture and killings directly to Bashar Al-Assad and his regime. The first-hand accounts are horrifying and upsetting to encounter. The situation in Syria is so bad and so hopeless, who knows when and how it will ever be resolved. If there’s any good news in this story, it’s that whenever the moment comes to prosecute Assad in the International Criminal Court, there will be no lack of evidence for his responsibility.

 

In this week’s New Yorker

February 6, 2016

elif batuman illo by anna parini
You know me, I’m a huge fan of the New Yorker. But in the current anniversary issue, there’s a Personal History essay, “Cover Story” by Elif Batuman, that really captivated me so much that I’d like to convene a salon to read it aloud and discuss it. Batuman is a young (38-year-old) writer who grew up in a non-religious Turkish family. Her parents benefited from Ataturk’s establishment of a secular Turkish Republic. While living in Istanbul reporting for the New Yorker, in 2011 Batuman traveled to a rural area in southeastern Anatolia to report on an archaeological site. She found the locals unfriendly to an English-speaking non-religious woman. Then one day by chance she wore a hijab (head scarf) all day long, and her experience changed dramatically, which led her to consider a series of deep, profound, searching questions about meaning, purpose, journalism, religion, and freedom. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Elsewhere in the issue:

  • charming Talk of the Town pieces about Supreme Court justice Sonia Sotomayor and magician/collector/author Ricky Jay;
  • “The Bouvier Affair,” a long riveting report by Sam Knight about the hidden-in-plain-sight world of high-end art storage and the intersection of dealers, collectors, artists, and the people who handle framing, transporting, and storing artwork for Russian oligarchs and other one-percenters;
  • “Putin’s Dragon,” Joshua Yaffa’s piece about the ruler of Chechnya that I had to force myself to finish reading because it was important but also sickening and infuriating;
  • “Forced Out,” a sad compelling story by Matthew Desmond about eviction as a way of life in a poor Milwaukee neighborhood;
  • Hilton Als’s deft Critic at Large essay about hip-hop DJ/producer Madlib; and
  • James Wood’s intriguing review of two new novels by gay American expats in Europe, Garth Greenwell’s What Belongs to You and Darryl Pinckney’s Black Deutschland.

There are also a couple of big duds in the issue. Patricia Marx, the often-droll shopping correspondent, writes about high-tech sleep gadgets in a way that shows off her quippiness but doesn’t actually convey anything that would be helpful to someone looking for effective sleep aids. And despite his status as a fiction superstar these days, George Saunders left me cold with his story “Mother’s Day.”

I’ve been gobbling up every episode of The New Yorker Radio Hour, the hour-long podcast hosted by editor-in-chief David Remnick — nonstop good stuff. I can’t believe how much I’m looking forward to next week’s show, which focuses on Laura Poitras (the exceptional documentary filmmaker whose art show, “Astro Noise,” just opened at the Whitney Museum) and the local jazz players whom David Bowie hired to play on his final album, Blackstar.

In last week’s New Yorker

October 22, 2015

recognition nyorker coverI haven’t done this in a while, and I’m still working my way through this week’s, but last week’s issue of the New Yorker was unusually stuffed with exceptional pieces worth catching up on:

  • “Thresholds of Violence,” Malcolm Gladwell’s riveting and disheartening report about how many school shootings specifically intend to replicate the massacre at Columbine. The piece leads and ends with a hair-raising account of a rampage that was aborted and concludes: “The problem is not that there is an endless supply of deeply disturbed young men who are willing to contemplate horrific acts. It’s worse. It’s that young men no longer need to be deeply disturbed to contemplate horrific acts.”
  • “Road Warrior,” Jane Kramer’s in-depth up-close-and-personal profile of Gloria Steinem, which increased my already high regard for the feminist icon exponentially.
  • “Drawing Blood,” in which reporter Adam Shatz introduced me to French-Arab cartoonist Riad Sattouf, whose book The Arab of the Future I can’t wait to read.
  • “Cold Little Bird,” Ben Marcus’s short story about a father struggling to adjust to the reality of his ten-year-old’s son personality change.
  • critical essays by Alex Ross and Hilton Als on two artists near and dear to my heart, Laurie Anderson and Sam Shepard (Hilton was kind enough to reference my Shepard biography in his review of the Broadway production of Fool for Love).

    Not to mention Adrian Tomine’s cover image (above), which will induce groans of recognition from many writers who live in NYC.

In this week’s New Yorker

December 5, 2013

The highlights of the issue are:

* “The Big Sleep,” Ian Parker’s long article about the workings of sleep medications, in particular Ambien;

* Rivka Galchen’s short story “The Late Novels of Gene Hackman”;

* Hilton Als’s review of the Broadway revival of Waiting for Godot, which has fresh things to say about Beckett and the play, while confirming my suspicions about the performances of Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen;

and an unusually good crop of cartoons:
photo 5 photo 2 photo 3 photo 4photo 1 (1)

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