The New Yorker

Why Book Criticism and Literary Culture Needs a Poptimist Revolution

When bestselling author Jennifer Weiner was profiled by The New Yorker in January 2014 in an article called “Written Off,” writer Rebecca Mead made sure to outline Weiner’s two audiences: one, the loyal readers of her books, who propel them onto the best-seller list, and number two, a pricklier sort, consisting of the “writers, editors, and critics… who have given Weiner a parallel notoriety, as an unlikely feminist enforcer.” The short version is that, through Twitter (and her following, which currently numbers about 93K), Weiner used her platform to needle such august institutions as The New York Times Book Review and everyplace else with mediocre VIDA counts regarding the amounts of space they give to reviewing and considering the three books that “matter” for the season written by male authors like Jonathan Franzen and Jeffrey Eugenides, while simultaneously ignoring the span of women’s writing, and, additionally, commercial fiction. … Read More

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‘The New Yorker’ Doesn’t Love ‘Broad City’ As Much As You Do

They already have a hit TV show and Amy Poehler’s stamp of approval, but this week arguably marks the point at which Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson have well and truly Made It: on top of everything else, they’ve now been immortalized in a New Yorker profile. Written by Nick Paumgarten, who charmingly billed himself as a “hockey dad” in his March piece on the Berlin EDM scene, the piece — which is paywalled but accessible here for those with subscriptions — is hardly a hit job. But it is a take on Glazer, Jacobson, and their web-series-turned-real-series by someone a few steps removed from its target demo of “naïve impertinent Millennials” (umlaut and capital M included, because it wouldn’t be The New Yorker without idiosyncratic house style). … Read More

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Flavorwire Interview: Adrian Tomine on Drawing Everyday People and Fantasies of Writing a Novel

Although he’s originally from California, if you look at any of Adrian Tomine’s many illustrations for publications named after the city that he currently calls home, it’s difficult to think of Tomine as anything other than a New York artist. His work for The New Yorker and New York magazine capture the everyday look and feel of contemporary New York City, with single scenes begging you to fill in the blanks for the rest of the story: the New Yorker out of his element (in this particular case, a Yankees fan in a sea of Red Sox caps), two readers on passing subways making eye contact, and the bored teenage tourist reading great literature set in the city instead of looking at the tourist destinations. If you’ve spent any prolonged amount of time here, Tomine’s illustrations are scenes with which you’re familiar. … Read More

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What Scarlett Johansson’s New Movie ‘Under the Skin’ Tells Us About Her Gross ‘New Yorker’ Profile

Late last month, The New Yorker’s Anthony Lane wrote a profile of Scarlett Johansson. Maybe you heard about it; if you did, it was probably not in terribly complimentary terms. Slate’s Katy Waldman called out its “inappropriate-uncle creepiness”; Talking Points Memo’s Kay Steiger deemed it “gross”; over at The New Republic, Esther Berger crowned it “the worst profile I can remember reading in The New Yorker.” The problem with Lane’s fawning, empty piece, in a nutshell, is that it’s basically a highbrow version of a Maxim or Esquire cover story: Lane’s thesis is that Scarlett Johansson is super-duper hot, though couched in dressed-up verbiage like “Johansson looks tellingly radiant in the flesh” and “using nothing but the honey of her voice” and “she seemed to be made from champagne.” What makes the whole piece particularly irritating is that there are interesting things to be said about Johansson right now; she has two movies coming out today which couldn’t be further apart on the modern movie-making spectrum. And, compellingly, one of them can be read as a kind of tacit commentary on precisely the kind of empty objectification that the Lane profile traffics in so freely. … Read More

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How Andrew Solomon’s Peter Lanza Piece Makes Us More Empathetic

In Leslie Jamison’s essay “The Empathy Exams,” the title piece in her upcoming book, she writes, “Empathy isn’t just listening, it’s asking the questions whose answers need to be listened to. Empathy requires inquiry as much as imagination. Empathy requires knowing you know nothing.” What the Sandy Hook shooting — or any of the 44 school shootings that have occurred since December 2012 — has taught us is that tragedy can, over time, feel unfathomable while also curdling into feeling absolutely commonplace. The rash of school shootings that have become not even front-page news in America have made us tired and frustrated. It leaves us looking for something like empathy, since it’s easy to feel just horror and sadness, looking for the balm of quick answers and a “bad guy” caught and put in jail. … Read More

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‘The Partisan Review’ and 8 Other Great Online Magazine Archives

Even though it shut down in 2003, The Partisan Review was the sort of publication whose articles and fiction deserve to be appreciated by future generations. Now, thanks to some heroic archivists, the magazine’s entire output from 1934 to its demise has been digitized, offering readers a chance to explore one of the most important intellectual institutions of the last century. Like The Partisan Review, some other great publications that have steered our cultural conversations about the arts, politics, and fiction, have also worked hard to get their back issues posted on the internet. Here are a few excellent examples to bookmark. … Read More

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Jennifer Weiner’s Curious Definition of Literary Sisterhood

This week the New Yorker profiles Jennifer Weiner, dissecting the way she’s been cast in the internet’s ongoing debate about the place of women in the world of writing. Or, sorry: “serious writing,” meaning not those ugly pink-and-blue books that only women read. The profile, by Rebecca Mead, is pretty good. I particularly liked how it highlighted, in a nice, subtle, not-laced-with-ad-hominem-attacks way, the flaw in the heart of Weiner’s crusade: she can’t seem to make her point without trashing women literary novelists. … Read More

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