Author Topic: In the New Yorker...  (Read 502893 times)

Offline serious crayons

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #970 on: October 18, 2014, 01:49:07 pm »
The magazine also published an article about him after he killed himself.

Good point!

It's as if they have a template, and every article gets made to fit the template.  :-\

Good point. They do sometimes publish outside-the-box writers like Mindy Kaling, Lena Dunham, Steve Martin or even David Sedaris, they're generally people who had already achieved fame and popularity elsewhere (such as show business).

Otherwise, they adhere pretty closely to a certain style and tone -- mostly serious though occasionally mildly amusing, erudite but modest, factual and detached and dispassionate. Not a lot of eccentrism or attitude. Writing, in other words, that doesn't call attention to itself as Writing. Exemplified by staffers like Adam Gopnik. Which is no doubt why David Foster Wallace didn't make the cut -- his stye was idiosyncratic and colorful and slightly neurotic; it just didn't fit the New Yorker mold.


Offline serious crayons

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #971 on: October 20, 2014, 10:40:58 pm »
Good point. They do sometimes publish outside-the-box writers like Mindy Kaling, Lena Dunham, Steve Martin or even David Sedaris, they're generally people who had already achieved fame and popularity elsewhere (such as show business).

Well, speak of the devil! Apparently the new issue, which I have yet to receive, contains fiction by Tom Hanks.

A Slate columnist reveiwed the story and wasn't particularly impressed. Here's her most damning paragraph:

I certainly was not blown away by this story, which seems to exemplify a growing New Yorker trend of opening up certain sections to famous Hollywood types. Jesse Eisenberg, Mindy Kaling, Steve Martin, Lena Dunham, and Tina Fey have all recently appeared in the magazine’s pages. Not to reverse-discriminate, but how many of their pieces would have made the cut without the glittering byline? Perhaps it is enough for The New Yorker to deliver the minor thrill of a popular figure trying something new. (Not that Hanks is an entirely unpracticed literary hand: He also wrote the scripts for That Thing You Do and Larry Crowne.) But the world is full of rich, interesting, funny, moving fiction by people we’ve never heard of. It’s a shame to see the high-profile New Yorker fiction perch occupied by a mediocre story that breezed past the bodyguards because of its Hollywood pedigree. 

http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2014/10/20/tom_hanks_new_yorker_story_alan_bean_plus_four_is_not_very_good.html

She asks a good question. I genuinely enjoyed the piece or two by Mindy Kaling that I read there. But then, Kaling was a writer before she was an actress -- she wrote the play Ben and Matt, she was a writer for The Office as well as an actress on it, and she has at least one book out that I think looks pretty decent (I gave it to my niece, along with another book, as a graduation present). But even in so, I wonder if the New Yorker would publish her if she weren't famous elsewhere.

The others, I bet, would not make the cut. I've read most of Lena Dunham's book and it was just OK (though I love Girls). I was never all that impressed with Steve Martin's writing and wasn't ever excited enough to read Tina Fey's book based on the few excerpts I did read. Again, Tina Fey was an SNL writer before she was a star, but still.

And I think I saw Jesse Eisenberg's "Shouts and Murmurs" piece and didn't think it was good.

Meanwhile, a year or so ago I read an interview in which David Remnick practically boasted about rejecting David Foster Wallace (or at least, about the magazine rejecting him; I'm not sure Remnick was editor when Wallace was alive). Anyway, Jonathan Franzen in this interview mentioned that DFW had never been published in the NYer. "Not for lack of trying," David Remnick said. I wanted to slap him.

Jesse Eisenberg clears the bar because he did a good job playing Mark Zuckerberg. But David Foster Wallace, one of the greatest essayists of the past 20 years, can't get in?




Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #972 on: October 21, 2014, 09:35:49 am »
Well, speak of the devil! Apparently the new issue, which I have yet to receive, contains fiction by Tom Hanks.

A Slate columnist reveiwed the story and wasn't particularly impressed. Here's her most damning paragraph:

I certainly was not blown away by this story, which seems to exemplify a growing New Yorker trend of opening up certain sections to famous Hollywood types. Jesse Eisenberg, Mindy Kaling, Steve Martin, Lena Dunham, and Tina Fey have all recently appeared in the magazine’s pages. Not to reverse-discriminate, but how many of their pieces would have made the cut without the glittering byline? Perhaps it is enough for The New Yorker to deliver the minor thrill of a popular figure trying something new. (Not that Hanks is an entirely unpracticed literary hand: He also wrote the scripts for That Thing You Do and Larry Crowne.) But the world is full of rich, interesting, funny, moving fiction by people we’ve never heard of. It’s a shame to see the high-profile New Yorker fiction perch occupied by a mediocre story that breezed past the bodyguards because of its Hollywood pedigree. 

http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2014/10/20/tom_hanks_new_yorker_story_alan_bean_plus_four_is_not_very_good.html

Ouch!

Quote
And I think I saw Jesse Eisenberg's "Shouts and Murmurs" piece and didn't think it was good.

"Shouts and Murmurs" is the one feature I practically never read, unless maybe if it's by David Sedaris or Paul Rudnick. The few times I have read it when it was by other people, I found it not funny at all--downright amateurish, in fact, like a bad attempt at humor in a high school newspaper.

Quote
Meanwhile, a year or so ago I read an interview in which David Remnick practically boasted about rejecting David Foster Wallace (or at least, about the magazine rejecting him; I'm not sure Remnick was editor when Wallace was alive). Anyway, Jonathan Franzen in this interview mentioned that DFW had never been published in the NYer. "Not for lack of trying," David Remnick said. I wanted to slap him.

Jesse Eisenberg clears the bar because he did a good job playing Mark Zuckerberg. But David Foster Wallace, one of the greatest essayists of the past 20 years, can't get in?

I've never read DFW, so I'm really, really not equipped to comment. But I think your points about celebrity authors are well taken.

I suppose being a good writer for TV comedy (e.g., Tina Fey) doesn't necessarily make one a good writer for a magazine.
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

Offline Front-Ranger

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #973 on: October 21, 2014, 10:32:32 am »


"Shouts and Murmurs" is the one feature I practically never read, unless maybe if it's by David Sedaris or Paul Rudnick. The few times I have read it when it was by other people, I found it not funny at all--downright amateurish, in fact, like a bad attempt at humor in a high school newspaper.

I agree with you, Jeff. "Shouts and Murmurs" can be far-fetched sometimes. I still read it, but sometimes don't finish it. Comedy writing is difficult. I like a broad range of comedy and satire, especially Monty Python-style comedy, so I tend to like Steve Martin's writing as well as Tina Fey's. But it's not for everyone. Conspicuously absent from this lineup is Woody Allen. I usually don't like the pieces that he has in The New Yorker. Martin has been writing for TNY for quite a few years, I think. I remember seeing his work there when I started reading it back in the previous century!
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Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #974 on: October 21, 2014, 11:05:15 am »
I agree with you, Jeff. "Shouts and Murmurs" can be far-fetched sometimes.

"Far-fetched" is a good way to describe some of what I've seen in "Shouts and Murmurs." That's what made me think of a kid trying to write something funny for a high school newspaper--and failing miserably.
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

Offline serious crayons

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #975 on: October 22, 2014, 10:23:17 am »
Somehow, The Onion manages to be pretty consistently funny on a weekly basis. But outside of TV, that's the only example I can think of. The Onion is working off the news, but then again so is "Shouts and Murmurs" sometimes. And I agree, it's only occasionally funny.

That said, I have occasionally happened on really good S&Ms by obscure writers. One, years ago, was so clever I ripped it out and saved it for years. Eventually I threw it away in a frenzy of organization and have regretted it ever since. It was an entire S&M written in the regular forms of words that we normally use only in prefixed forms. Not sure if those terms are right -- and I can hardly remember any examples, which is why I regret tossing it -- but basically it used "chalant" to mean the opposite of "nonchalant," "plussed" as the opposite of "nonplussed" and so on.




Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #976 on: October 22, 2014, 01:23:33 pm »
That said, I have occasionally happened on really good S&Ms by obscure writers. One, years ago, was so clever I ripped it out and saved it for years. Eventually I threw it away in a frenzy of organization and have regretted it ever since. It was an entire S&M written in the regular forms of words that we normally use only in prefixed forms. Not sure if those terms are right -- and I can hardly remember any examples, which is why I regret tossing it -- but basically it used "chalant" to mean the opposite of "nonchalant," "plussed" as the opposite of "nonplussed" and so on.

I think I remember that "Shouts & Murmurs." Or maybe I just have a vague memory of some comedian somewhere doing a routine about the same subject (e.g., kempt is not the opposite of unkempt). The Oct. 20 article is by Paul Rudnick; I read it over lunch, and despite its author, I didn't find it very funny.

And I didn't quite know what to make of the Patricia Marx piece about "emotional-support animals."
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

Offline Front-Ranger

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #977 on: October 22, 2014, 07:30:22 pm »
My NY came this afternoon finally so I had to sit down and read "Allen Bean Plus Four" by Tom Hanks. It was a breezy upbeat account of four madcap twenty-somethings who decide to make a figure eight voyage around the moon in their Rube Goldberg space capsule, just for fun. Kind of a Disney ride, science-fiction-lite saga. There were some interesting turns of phrase and the oft-expressed conceit that you can do anything with an iphone these days. Other than that, it was a bit of a waste of time, but at least I didn't end a NY fiction-reading session mired in existential angst as I so often do.  :P
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Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #978 on: October 22, 2014, 10:24:50 pm »
Mine arrived today, too. I jumped right into the profile of Billy Joel. I didn't even notice Tom Hanks' name in the contents.  :-\
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

Offline serious crayons

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #979 on: October 23, 2014, 11:09:31 am »
I am always the last person on the planet to get the latest New Yorker:(

Well, I should amend that. Once I was talking on the phone to a friend in New Orleans. This was about a year after Katrina. I mentioned something in the New Yorker and asked if she'd seen it. No, she said, because they still weren't getting magazine delivery.  :o