Since I first picked up The New Yorker back in the early 1990s I have been a huge admirer of the weekly magazine. And I don’t even remember the glory days before Tina Brown “ruined” it. Since the magazine just published its 85th Anniversary issue I thought I would give you my top fice reasons why I love The New Yorker (in no particular order):
1. The covers. Every week for the past 85 years The New Yorker has commissioned fantastic cover art. Sometimes profound, sometimes satirical, many times witty, they never fail to catch my attention.
2. The cartoons. The magazine is full of some of the best cartoons going. And over the past several years they have been having a caption contest on the last page where readers can send in their suggestions for the perfect caption.
3. The articles. I pretty much never read non-fiction books. The non-fiction in The New Yorker tends to be just the right length, using as many or as few words as necessary to tell the story. Very accessible but always intelligent. I have read and enjoyed articles on every conceivable topic: books, art, music, math, science, economics, politics, biography, communities, architecture, pop culture, you name it.
4. The articles are continuous. You know how most magazines get you started on an article and then make you flip to the back of the magazine to finish it off? Not The New Yorker. Once you start an article you just have to turn the page for the continuation, no flipping around. This sounds a little silly, but I find it hugely annoying to have to flip back and forth.
5. It was my link to the real world for two years. From 1995 through 1997 I lived in Honolulu, Hawai’i. Our 50th state yet one of the remotest chain of islands in the world geographically, Hawai’i has a way of feeling both very familiar and rather foreign and remote at the same time. I moved to Hawai’i for graduate school without ever having even visited it before. Needless to say I was more than a little discombobulated by the 10,000 mile move. In those early days of the World Wide Web, The New Yorker was my link to the East Coast of the U.S. Not only did I love the long stories and the smaller current events bits in the “Talk of the Town”, but I also enjoyed living vicariously through the arts listings, imagining myself spending the afternoon at a gallery before heading to a concert at Carnegie Hall or a performance at the Met.
And the continuous articles mentioned in number four above made it perfect beach reading. Since I was doing so much reading for school and working 30 hours a week on top of it, The New Yorker was my weekly treat. It would show up on Tusdays. I would page through it and read all of the cartoons and get a sense of what was in each issue, but I wouldn’t really read it until I got to the beach on Saturday. Although there is much to do in Hawai’i, when the weekend rolled around, without fail, I would head off to the beach and invariably read my New Yorker. It was the best of both worlds, I would immerse myself mentally in the changing seasons of New York (natural and cultural) while basking in the everpresent Hawai’i sun on a beautiful beach.
So it was with some sadness that I gave up reading The New Yorker a few years ago. Unwilling to give up TV (or blogging), I found that I didn’t have enough time to read books when I had The New Yorker showing up on my doorstep every week. I still enjoy the magazine immensely, but alas, I made my own Sophie’s Choice (does she actually choose?) and forsake one of my literary interests for another.
Here is me in the glory days of my love affair with The New Yorker. O’ahu 1997.