off the record
The Observer reached veteran New Yorker copy editor Mary Norris last week at Rockaway Beach, where she was taking a deserved vacation. She had, after all, just sold a book.
After three decades of red-pencil duties, Ms. Norris has, of late, been punchily defending the peculiarities of the storied weekly’s punctuation and house style for its Page-Turner blog. From these posts, which range in topic from the dreaded diaeresis (seen in coöperate and reëlect) to the mag’s prudish-but-evolving stance on the F-word, her forthcoming book, Between You and Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen, was born, with development help from her agent, David Kuhn.
This week’s New Yorker cover pokes fun at Mayor Bloomberg’s proposed ban on super-sized sodas and other sugary drinks—and the surrounding media frenzy—with a pulpy cover showing two lovers caught in the act of Big Gulp-ing.
“When I heard about Bloomberg’s plan, on the national news, to make large sodas illegal, my mind immediately went to ‘Are people going to jail for this?’” the artist, Owen Smith, told the magazine’s Cover Stories blog.
One of the more recent entries in the annals of literary hype that threatens to overshadow actual achievement is Nell Freudenberger. Back in 2001, when the recent Harvard grad was an editorial assistant at The New Yorker, her short story “Lucky Girls” was published in the magazine, and she soon became known, both in New York publishing circles and beyond, as a wunderkind. She happened to be attractive. “Too young, too pretty, too successful” said the title of an article by Curtis Sittenfeld, in Salon. But then came a well-received first novel, The Dissidents, and a short story, “An Arranged Marriage,” in The New Yorker’s 20 Under 40 Fiction issue, in 2010, and awards, like the PEN/Malamud. And now with her second novel, Newlyweds (Knopf, 352 pp., $25.95), an extended version of “An Arranged Marriage,” comes her most successful effort yet, one that shows a more mature voice and the true triumph of her talent over her hype.
When Vogue invited Michelle Obama to do a cover story in early 2009, reactions from her staff illustrated the constant role of racial politics in the first lady’s decision-making process, according to Jodi Kantor’s new book, The Obamas.
Robert Crumb, the alt-comic writer with a piggyback fetish, has always been ahead of his time. That’s what made his comics–usually featuring giant Amazonian women with humungous thighs as a chronic masturbatory fantasy– so transgressive to begin with.
But for all his former subversiveness, Mr. Crumb is pretty mainstream nowadays. Maybe not New Yorker mainstream though: Vice magazine unearthed a 2009 drawing from the cartoonist that was rejected by David Remnick‘s magazine. Though an answer was never given on why the cover wasn’t run, Mr. Crumb suspects it was because the New Yorker was too afraid of offending people with the image of a (possible?) drag queen and a twee person of unidentifiable sex trying talking to a sweating official from the marriage license bureau, with a sign pointing to a “Genders Inspection” office next to his window.
Below, a high res image of the cartoon, which was discovered at the Venice Biennale in June.
On Wednesday The Hollywood Reporter reported that Twilight teen heartthrob Taylor Lautner had optioned a New Yorker story to be made into a small-budget movie directed by Gus Van Sant.
After the critical and box office failure of his first post-Twilight job, Abduction, the combination of the New Yorker and Mr. Van Sant lent the 19-year-old an instant aura of taste and gravitas, causing a spike in the Mr. Lautner futures market.
In 1972, Gerard Damiano was a 43-year-old hairdresser from the Bronx with a cheap toupee and an opulent dream: to become the first auteur of hardcore. Over a single weekend, he wrote a script centering on the erotic act Humbert Humbert referred to as “a fancy embrace,” convinced local mobsters to kick in a couple bucks and started shooting. The 61-minute movie that resulted might not have had Godard shaking in his pantaloons but it did have a few things going for it: a cute title, an even cuter gimmick, and a leading lady who wasn’t the usual sex-kitten-cum-hell-cat triple-X vixen but a fresh-faced young moppet with an alliterative name and the most muted gag reflex this side of Barnum & Bailey.
The Occupy Wall Street protest has had some legitimate backlash, include the personal American dreams on the 53 percent Tumblr, a reference to the 53 percent of Americans who pay income taxes. But there is a movement for a counter-protest simmering over on the largely OWS-sympathizer forum Reddit. “Interested in a OWS counter-protest?” the thread says, inviting “people who have unwrinkled business attire” to join an ironic supplemental protest in the spirit of “Occupy Occupy Wall Street,” a development that reminds us of the Million Bunny March at Burning Man, which was protested by attendees dressed as carrots.
Don’t let the warm weather fool you, we are officially in Fall season mode. You can always tell the changing of the seasons by the changing of the leaves, or at least by the changing of the hair colors of The Real Housewives of New York—which we anticipate will take place any day now in some of the city’s higher end hair care establishments as LuAnn de Lesseps and Ramona Singer reap the rewards of their cast-off cast members by doubling their salary. The two will now be getting $500,000 each to throw champagne in each other’s faces. Who says that there are no high-paying jobs anymore? Rather unbelievably, fellow New Yorkers, these are the 1%.
Nancy Franklin announced that she is stepping down from her position as New Yorker television critic on Twitter today.
“I’ve been a critic for 18 years, and a TV critic for 13 of them. That’s a lot of sitting alone indoors playing with one’s equipment,” Ms. Franklin wrote the Observer in an e-mail.
“I wanted to get out of Read More