Posts Tagged ‘zadie smith’

In this week’s New Yorker

August 1, 2012


An engrossing issue to read on a three-hour plane ride. Having spent a good chunk of the weekend watching the Olympics, I enjoyed the cover, along with a string of engrossing articles I might not otherwise have devoured quite so closely:

Ryan Lizza’s informative and characteristically in-depth profile of Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan, he of the ostensibly sensible budget that barely conceals all kinds of ideological landmines. Obama’s budget director, as Lizza puts it, “dismantled Ryan’s plan, point by point.” Ryan’s proposal would turn Medicare “into a voucher program, so that individuals are on their own in the health-care market,” he said. Over time, the program wouldn’t keep pace with rising medical costs, so seniors would have to pay thousands of dollars more a year for health care. The Roadmap would revive Bush’s plan to privatize Social Security and “provide large tax benefits to upper-income households . . . while shifting the burden onto middle- and lower-income households. It is a dramatically different approach in which much more risk is loaded onto individuals.”

Lauren Collins’ piece on conceptual artist Tino Sehgal, whose work involves no objects whatsoever but focuses on personal interaction;

Mark Singer’s absolutely riveting story about a Michigan dentist who went to incredibly arduous lengths to present himself as a marathon champion without ever actually completing a race and in some cases inventing them (and their websites) from scratch — which falls into the Department of Ugly Truths, or How Fucked-Up Human Beings Can Be. It is essentially a sleuth job on a pathological liar, a mysterious breed of personality;

Evan Osnos on the curious case of Myanmar’s bloodless regime change; and

— a curious little previously unpublished story, “Thank You for the Light,” recently discovered among the papers of F. Scott Fitzgerald, which you can read in its (brief) entirety here. The evocative illustration (below) is by Owen Freeman.


While I’m at it, let me put in a word for two must-reads in the previous issue (cover date July 30): the long and terrific profile of Bruce Springsteen, all the more impressive for being written by New Yorker editor-in-chief David Remnick, who often surprises me with his choice of subjects; and Zadie Smith’s delightful story, “Permission to Enter,” an excerpt from her forthcoming novel NW.

Quote of the day: PEOPLE-PLEASING

August 21, 2011

PEOPLE-PLEASING

In “Generation Why?” a social-networking jeremiad published in The New York Review of Books last year, Zadie Smith reduces the motivations of the Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to one: he wants to be liked. She writes, “For our self-conscious generation (and in this, I and Zuckerberg, and everyone raised on TV in the Eighties and Nineties, share a single soul), not being liked is as bad as it gets. Intolerable to be thought of badly for a minute, even for a moment.” Even if you reject, as I do, the universality of her diagnosis, Smith has pinpointed the reason so much of what passes for intellectual debate nowadays is obscured behind a veneer of folksiness and sincerity and is characterized by an unwillingness to be pinned down. Where the craving for admiration and approval predominates, intellectual rigor cannot thrive, if it survives at all.

— Maud Newton, New York Times Magazine

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