Posts Tagged ‘sasha frere-jones’

In this week’s New Yorker

April 14, 2013

The April 15 issue is dominated by four long, strong feature stories:

* John Le Carre’s remembrance of how his early novel The Spy Who Loved Me got made into a film starring Richard Burton (who knew that LeCarre goes by the name of David among his friends?);

* Joan Acocella’s extremely entertaining profile of puppet master Basil Twist;

* Nick Paumgarten’s long consideration of James Salter, making a case for the greatness of a writer who’s never been on my radar; and

* Susan Faludi’s piece on Shulamith Firestone, the once extremely influential radical feminist who quickly receded from the fray (bearing the brunt of being trashed by her comrades, in all too familiar internal divisiveness that infects progressive movements) and died last year, alone and mentally ill.

shulamith

Nicholas Lemann reviews a number of books astutely analyzing the environmentalist movement and what it could learn from the original Earth Day (April 22, 1970). Sasha Frere-Jones makes me want to track down a hit single from 2002 that somehow escaped me, the Knife’s “Heartbeats.” And David Denby’s review makes me curious to see the new Robert Redford film The Company You Keep, though I probably won’t.

In this week’s New Yorker

December 22, 2012

I found myself surprisingly lukewarm about the series of articles on the issue’s theme of World Changers, though I appreciated “Out in Africa,” Alexis Okeowo’s illuminating article about Frank Mugisha and other courageous gay activists in Uganda, as well as Elif Batuman’s long article about an amazing all-female theater troupe in rural Turkey. I got drawn into Bill Wyman’s review of Randall Sullivan’s Michael Jackson biography Untouchable: The Strange Life and Tragic Death of Michael Jackson, which includes this remarkable assertion: “It’s an open question whether Jackson ever had sex with anyone — man, woman, or child. Sullivan believes the singer died a virgin.” Speaking of weird and self-destructive R&B singers, Sasha Frere-Jones writes an unusually unsparing essay about Rihanna and her relationship with Chris Brown, whom he describes as “an agile dancer, a better-than-average rapper, and a passable singer…also, by all appearances, a vile human being. ” A bunch of kinda great cartoons, though:

low level person abominable snowmom had work done

In this week’s New Yorker

June 19, 2012


Top stories this week for me start with Ezra Klein’s “Unpopular Mandate,” which traces all the ways that former Republican legislative policies have gotten demonized and trashed as soon as bipartisan support for them showed up, thereby making it entirely likely that Obama’s Affordable Health Care legislation will be reversed by the Supreme Court. Pretty sickening.

I have almost no interest in television or Hollywood movies, yet I often find myself reading every word of New Yorker profiles, such as Tad Friend’s long story about Ben Stiller (or last week’s long report on Seth McFarlane, creator of Family Guy). It shocks me that Stiller is seen as the world’s biggest comedic movie stars simply because he has acted in three billion-dollar “franchises” (movies and their sequels). Madagascar? Night at the Museum? Meet the Parents? This is what sells? Okay….

Among the reviews, James Wood writes about an intriguing young Canadian writer named Sheila Heti and Jill Lepore digests some choice chaotic biographical details David Maraniss unearthed in his book on Barack Obama.¬† Sasha Frere-Jones makes new albums by Norah Jones and Fiona Apple sound mouth-watering. Plus, you know, Gayle Kabaker’s sweet cover illustration (see above).

Before the moment passes, I want to tag as recommended reading the always-scrupulous Jane Mayer’s terrific “Letter from Tupelo” about Bryan Fischer, a raving lunatic radio preacher from Mississippi who represents the kind of crackpots that Mitt Romney Republicans cater to these days. Fischer was the one whose homophobic railings about Romney hiring an openly gay press secretary,¬†driven by insane 1950s stereotypes about homosexual blackmail, hounded the guy out of his job. One more creep to keep an eye on this electoral season. It will be full-time work to keep calling a creep a creep as the money of the Koch Brothers continues to steamroll the American public with lies and propaganda.

In this week’s New Yorker

April 12, 2012


The travel issue surprisingly didn’t excite me much. I read without interest Basharat Peer on the hajj and Lauren Collins on Croatia as destination for drunken revelers from Britain. I skipped Julia Ioffe on Russian borscht and Daniel Mendelsohn on the Titanic. The high points for me were Patricia Marx’s fascinating piece on CouchSurfing.com — never heard of it! must make note! — and Bruce McCall’s great cover, “Carry-On Luggage” (above), which reminds me (like so many things these days) of Louis C.K.’s neo-Seinfeld episode on that subject. Hilton Als writes about a couple of plays in Chicago by intriguing writers new to me. And although I’m often happy to follow Sasha Frere-Jones wherever his musical enthusiasm leads him, I remain unconvinced by his take on Spiritualized, whose new album “Sweet Heart Sweet Light” strikes me as pretty yawny. If you hurry, you can check it out free yourself on NPR’s First Listen page.

In this week’s New Yorker

December 4, 2011


A lot of terrific stuff in this issue, starting with the cover by the great comic-book artist Daniel Clowes, “Black Friday” — notice the amount of shelf space in the “bookstore” available for actual books…. The ever-excellent George Packer contributes a closely reported piece focusing on a representative Occupy Wall Street regular (“All the Angry People”). Calvin Tomkins, one of my all-time heroes as an arts journalist, profiles Carl Andre, a once-prominent visual artist whose work most American art followers haven’t kept up with largely because of the mystery surrounding the death in 1985 of his wife, Cuban-born artist Ana Mendieta. Andre was charged with her murder and acquitted, but many people harbor the belief that he was to blame. Tomkins, as usual, provides a clear-eyed 360-degree portrait of this artist.

I learned more about contemporary politics and economics from Nicholas Lemann’s Reporter at Large story on Brazil than I have from any other political reporting I’ve read this year. It is ostensibly a profile of Brazil’s current president, Dilma Rousseff, the incredibly smart protege who was hand-picked as successor by the hugely popular former president Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, known as Lula. Rousseff, raised in an affluent family, was radicalized in reaction to the 1964 coup that established Brazil’s military dictatorship. She and her former husband, Lemann writes, “are said to have planned the single most financially successful operation of the militant resistance: the 1969 theft of two and a half million dollars from a safe in the home of the mistress of a former governor of Sao Paolo. In early 1970, the military finally caught up with her. She spent three years in prison, where she was reportedly subjected to extensive torture with paddles, electric cattle prods, and other devices.” And now she’s President!

Lemann’s piece serves more generally as a survey of Brazil’s journey from being a low-functioning democracy with an enormous poverty-level population to a country that become a world economic power while increasing political freedom and income equality. Lemann spends some time with Fernando Henrique Cardoso, the two-term president who succeeded in turning the economy around. “Cardoso has spent his life analyzing Brazilian society. He has an ability, rare in a politician, to pull back emotionally from the field of play. In his memoirs, he says that he first discovered that poverty existed, as a child growing up in an overwhelmingly poor country, by reading John Steinbeck’s ‘The Grapes of Wrath.’ But distance isn’t the same as dispassion. Another anecdote has George W. Bush, in one of their talks, asking him, ‘Do you have blacks in Brazil?’ Cardoso was shocked. About half of Brazil’s population is made up of people of African descent.”

I was impressed with this unflinching observation about American politics from Governor Sergio Cabral, who may be a future president of Brazil: “The Republican opposition is different from the opposition here. I think the anger against a black man as President should not be enough to put the country in trouble. They disrespect Obama because of his race. It’s not just bad for Obama — it’s bad for the country. In Brazil, the opposition tried tricks against Lula, but the people made solidarity with Lula. The worker, the black man, the workingman, the woman. The world is changing. Thanks God.” But I was most impressed with Lemann’s fascinating conversation with Lula, a straight-talking man of the people. I wish I could provide a link to the whole article, but it’s worth buying the issue or, if you’re a subscriber, not skipping over it but sitting down with this article for 45 minutes.

Elsewhere in the issue: I don’t get fantasy fiction, but I get the truth of what Adam Gopnik says in his long essay about the genre. “Of all the unexpected things in contemporary literature, this is among the oddest: that kids have an inordinate appetite for very long, very tricky, very strange books about places that don’t exist, fights that never happened, all set against the sort of medieval background that Mark Twain thought he had discredited with A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.” I also don’t really get hip-hop’s new superstar, Drake, whose chorus of praisers is joined by Sasha Frere-Jones, but he sure is handsome.

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