The Daily

Posts Tagged ‘New York Times Magazine’

Staff Picks: Actors, Bluesmen, Showgirls

February 27, 2015 | by


A still from Showgirls.

What’s so great about the new New York Times Magazine? Nicole already singled out the cover art. Dan linked to Gary Shteyngart’s “embedded” report on Russian TV. I like the tack of the whole thing, starting with the editorial letter. I like its transparency, its sense of humor, its confidence. I like the new typeface it unveils, the paper stock, too. (Finally, a newsmagazine that looks as good as New York!) Even the small decision to ghostwrite the “Lives” column shows head-thwacking common sense. (Writers will have to unburden themselves elsewhere.) Underneath these little changes, you can sense real thought about the strengths and limitations of a print weekly today. It’s no accident that the magazine has devoted serious articles to photography and a classic rock LP or that it includes a weekly poem. The editors are making the most of their medium, are paying attention to analogue media as such. That this week’s news features were informative, stylish, and timely comes as no surprise: the magazine has always published terrific features on a semiregular basis. But this week, the well added up to more than the sum of its parts. I’m eager to see how Jake Silverstein and his team follow it up tomorrow. —Lorin Stein

In 1907, Robert Walser wrote a squib in the form of a letter that responds to an actor’s request for theatrical advice. Walser prescribes a tour de force of anguish in which the actor must let out a lion-like roar from the top of the scenery; pull out tufts of (fake) hair, laying it “doucement on the earth”; pick his nose “intently”; produce a “fiery-green snake” from “your pain-warped mouth”; stick a knife in his eye and out through his throat (then light a cigarette “as if you were secretly amused about something”); and, for the big finish, be buried under the toppled scenery, with only a twitching arm visible before the curtain falls. All for the pleasure of the “bankers and spice traders” in the audience—you know, theatergoers. In 2010, Walser’s deadpan satire was translated by Paul North for Ugly Duckling and accompanied by illustrations by Friese Undine that play up the stilted, absurd, self-serious nature of the text, including a helpful quartet of portraits demonstrating proper nose picking. Walser is sarcastic but darkly, delightfully so; he’s mocking, but also, I’d imagine, partly earnest. It’s almost as though he’d written it while watching the Oscars. —Nicole Rudick
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What We’re Loving: Ham Biscuits, Victoriana

January 25, 2013 | by

Over the weekend, I had one of those magical visits to the Strand where you find exactly the book you’re looking for: in this case, Julia Reed’s Ham Biscuits, Hostess Gowns, and Other Southern Specialties, a collection of Reed’s food essays for the New York Times Magazine. I read it in a single sitting and came out feeling like the author was an old friend, and with a serious hankering for deviled eggs. Reed’s life sounds glamorous and fun and filled with friends, and she writes about the South’s idiosyncrasies with warmth and authority. Only, don’t try to get it at the Strand: I nabbed the only copy. —Sadie O. Stein

How does The New York Review of Books even exist? Historians will marvel that something so good could last so long. Although we may never wrest an interview from our hero Robert Silvers—who founded the Review fifty years ago with the late Barbara Epsteinothers are ready to talk. Radio host Janet Coleman kicks off a series of New York Review reminiscences at their blog. —Lorin Stein

Downton Abbey has lately inspired me to read serial novels of Victorian England, allowing me to experience the same kind of long-term relationship with characters and the same range of social strata. Recently, I’ve been enjoying The Moonstone, by Wilkie Collins, of which T. S. Eliot said, “Everything that is good in the modern story can be found in The Moonstone.” A Victorian mystery with a dash of Indiana Jones, far from esoteric and very accessible. —Andrew Plimpton

Romanian concert pianist Radu Lupu performed at Carnegie Hall last night. It was a lovely program, by all accounts, but the second half of the evening was truly phenomenal. Sitting in a high-backed chair and moving his body infrequently, and then only slightly, Lupu played Book II of Debussy’s Préludes with tender forcefulness. The tension between his stoic person and romantic musicality was performance enough; in some ways, the music itself seemed irrelevant, though it’s been running through my head since. There’s no recording of Lupu playing it, that I can find, but this series on YouTube features a rendition by Sviatoslav Richter. —Clare Fentress

Mad Men fans were buoyed this week by the news that season six is set to premiere April 7. I doubt that I need to convince anyone of Matthew Weiner’s brilliance at this point—but what other show would use “Meditations in an Emergency” to illustrate a character arc? References to Frank O’Hara bookend season two, even taking “Meditations in an Emergency” as the finale episode’s title. If this intrigues you, check out this blog run by Steve Brauer, a professor at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, New York. Especially good is this bit of criticism: “What Frank O’Hara Tells Us About Don Draper.”  —Laura Creste

In Love, by Alfred Hayes, is a slim novel from 1953 that deserves to be better known. The cover of the new edition features an Elizabeth Bowen quote in which she terms the book “a little masterpiece,” and I’ve rarely seen the breakdown of a relationship, in all its banality and pettiness, evoked more vividly. It’s tough, fresh, very lovely, and will stay with you. —S.O.S.


What We’re Loving: Underwater Art, Analytic Philosophy, Betsy-Tacy

July 6, 2012 | by

Two Paris Review editors in one New York Times magazine? That’s what I call a week in culture: Sadie Stein on Baby Bjorns and J. J. Sullivan on Faulkner. —Lorin Stein

Like Jim Holt, I am convinced that some analytic philosophy is worth reading and rereading. If only one book could make the case, though, it would have to be Derek Parfit’s work of moral philosophy, Reasons and Persons. Almost thirty years old, it endures through a combination of novel thought and unimpeachable style. And, unlike much analytic philosophical writing, Parfit’s words have a vigorous sense of purpose, a compassion and focus reminiscent of Simone Weil and George Orwell. Favorite sections include teletransportation, indistinct selves, the repugnant conclusion, and the opening sentence: “Like my cat, I often simply do what I want to do.” —Tyler Bourgeois

I am continually captivated by the underwater art of “eco-sculptor” Jason deCaires Taylor—or, rather, what happens to it. Taylor submerges his work—predominantly human figures—in the waters of the West Indies and in the Gulf of Mexico. Over time, the permanent installations come to act as artificial reefs, attracting corals, aggregating fish species, and increasing marine biomass. Most of Taylor’s figures stand with their faces upturned to the surface, their eyes closed, as they are silently and arrestingly overtaken by algae, sponges, and hydrozoans. The overall impression is one of indomitable spirit within metamorphosis: creatures coming to life. —Anna Hadfield

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