Writing with humor and rage at The New Yorker

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

I have not read The New Yorker much in the past few years. I miss the “old New Yorker” more each year. My reading of the magazine under editor David Remnick has been limited to some of the long-form essays, like Jane Mayer’s on the CIA “black sites.” Recently I have started reading it again, because of the short pieces that they send out on email (you can subscribe for only about $1 a week). Remnick is at his best here, and various other staff writers contribute. There is one in the December 5 issue by Amy Davidson, entitled “The Age of Donald Trump and Pizzagate.” It’s about the Comet Ping Pong fiasco (actually, it was and is much worse than a fiasco, but I will not struggle to find the right word just now, since “deplorable” has been rendered unusable for the foreseeable future). Reading Ms. Davidson’s piece was a tonic; I laughed out loud several times, which makes one feel more alive and ready to act somehow. Her little article drips with just the right amount of infuriated sarcasm. I am among those who strenuously disfavor “normalizing” the soon-to-come administration, and so this was grist for the mill.

On a happier note, and speaking of The New Yorker, I recently attended a glorious party (it was emphatically not a “memorial service”) in memory of the recently deceased, beloved cartoonist Frank Modell at the intimate Coffee House club in Manhattan, and every “old New Yorker” still living was there. Frank Modell belonged to the fabled group of New Yorker cartoonists whose drawings had great charm instead of the now requisite “edge.” The party was truly fabulous. The hors d’oeuvres never stopped coming, and the bar never closed. During a slide show of Frank’s cartoons, I sat right behind Roger Angell and found it comforting to note that he is just as deaf as I am. I met and was befriended by Janet Groth, whose recent book (The Receptionist)  about her years at The New Yorker should be required reading for all who care about the magazine in its glory years–and it is a tremendously humane and touching self-portrait as well.

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