I enjoyed this essay. Brisk, telling, ribald writing. I wanted to tell Sam Alvord about it.
A brief history and reflection on the (un)popularity of the memoir. I liked this part in which the author talks about the effect changes in technology have had on the outpouring of personal narrative:
John McPhee’s Personal History piece is poignant and flashes like a fish in sunlight. Reminded me of the best of Annie Dillard.
My work colleagues and I just spent an intense day and a half effectively locked in a room, talking about our work together and vision for where we want to be. I was reminded of this piece by Ken Auletta on the current state of the media vis-a-vis President Obama. A lot of what he has to say about the impact of the internet, the pace of the news cycle and the breakdown of the 20th century business model around journalism is part of my daily grind.
David Owen’s piece The Dime Store Floor is a bit of nasal nostalgia. The sense of smell is a vivid memory evoker. A couple of summers ago I walked into a lumber yard’s warehouse and had a sensory hit so vivid that for a moment I was 8 years old in my great-grandfather’s woodshop/garage next door to the house where I grew up. Something about the old wood and sawdust and heat. The force of that memory surprised me. Owen’s piece is like that too.
I rarely have time to read these days, but when I do I read The New Yorker magazine. It’s the public radio of magazines: eclectic, in-depth, personal, funny, thoughtful. The average length of the pieces and the editorial tone gives writers the freedom to stretch out and find a rhetorical stride that is smart, engaging and wide-ranging.
Ok, enough plaudits.
I’m starting this new category to take note of pieces I want to remember later.
E. O. Wilson’s fiction piece in the New Yorker reads like a National Geographic article, not the kind of fiction I expect from the New Yorker. But then, that makes it the kind of thing I expect to read in the New Yorker, which is a wide-ranging publication. I liked the piece.