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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: New Yorker, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 57
1. Can you get it just right the first time? Colm Toibin and John McPhee reflect on the editing process

The reason it can take me so long to write a single sentence is because I care so much, even in the very first draft, about that single sentence.

This, many might say, is a writerly handicap. Just get the story down, they say. Return to it later, they say. Trust the process.

I do return, later. I do write over that sentence, away from that sentence, disappointed with that sentence. But every single time I write a sentence, or rewrite it, or reclaim it from the trash can, I am hoping for nothing less than sentence that is excellently good.

Writing well, every time, is an eternal hope of mine. I have not cracked that egg.

(Even at the very end of the process, when the book is in galleys, I discover sentences that don't work. Or, an editor with a keen eye questions me about passages that had long seemed set in stone. This just happened, in fact, with THIS IS THE STORY OF YOU. We were in galleys. We thought (after finding several troublesome galley matters) that we were done. But Taylor Norman, reading the book with fresh eyes, stopped, thought, and asked: Do you want your "really" here? Is that double "rappel" intentional? Can't we relax her speech on this page? What do you mean, the wind is incidental? Can she call her mother "Mom"? It's an ongoing process, refining one's work. And I suspect we're never really done.)

Over the last 24 hours I've read two favorite writers—novelist Colm Toibin and nonfiction genius John McPhee—on the art of getting it right the first time, and then looking again. I share their perspectives here. I learn from both.

Here Hope Whitmore interviews Colm Toibin for the Barnes and Noble Review on, among other things, process:

BNR: I’m interested in your writing process, because much of the power, particularly in Nora, comes from what isn’t said. There is a lot of inference — with her relationship with her mother — for instance. So I was wondering how you refined this, what is your editing process like?
CT: Oh, there’s no editing process. I mean, you just write down what’s needed — what you think is needed. And while I may change words, or pluck things, I mean not much. There’s no actual editing process.
BNR: So you don’t write then cut?
CT: No, you see, that won’t work, because if you don’t get it down right the first time, I mean — it doesn’t mean you don’t have to do editing or re-reading, re-writing, but not editing; meaning I’ll write this long and later on I’ll make it short, that won’t work. That won’t work.
I mean, well, there are writers who do drafts, knowing there will be later drafts, and that works for them, but I don’t do that. It doesn’t mean that there won’t be later drafts, but I write as though I will never get another chance.

Now here is John McPhee in a New Yorker piece called" Omission: Choosing what to leave out." He too is talking about the importance of selection, in the first paragraph. In the second (non-contiguous) paragraph, he is reflecting on greening, a process he teaches his students:

Writing is selection. Just to start a piece of writing you have to choose one word and only one from more than a million in the language. Now keep going. What is your next word? Your next sentence, paragraph, section, chapter? Your next ball of fact. You select what goes in and you decide what stays out. At base you have only one criterion: If something interests you, it goes in—if not, it stays out. That’s a crude way to assess things, but it’s all you’ve got. Forget market research. Never market-research your writing. Write on subjects in which you have enough interest on your own to see you through all the stops, starts, hesitations, and other impediments along the way....

Green 4 does not mean lop off four lines at the bottom, I tell them. The idea is to remove words in such a manner that no one would notice that anything has been removed. Easier with some writers than with others. It’s as if you were removing freight cars here and there in order to shorten a train—or pruning bits and pieces of a plant for reasons of aesthetics or plant pathology, not to mention size. Do not do violence to the author’s tone, manner, nature, style, thumbprint. Measure cumulatively the fragments you remove and see how many lines would be gone if the prose were reformatted. If you kill a widow, you pick up a whole line.
Toibin and McPhee—two writers working two genres—are, in different ways, talking about the same thing: caring. There's a discipline to writing that may not seem so glamorous. There's more to this than just concocting story or throwing out an inventive phrase. We select, we refine, we work to get it right. Perfection may be out of reach. But we're lost when our commitment fades.

0 Comments on Can you get it just right the first time? Colm Toibin and John McPhee reflect on the editing process as of 9/11/2015 8:23:00 AM
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2. Nice Art: Adrian Tomine’s New Yorker cover gallery a snapshot of gentrification

Adrian Tomine, whose collection Killing and Dying is what everyone is going to be talking about this fall, has the cover of this week's New Yorker and it's s typically note perfect image of gentrification in the face of raw sewage, otherwise known as Life In These Here Five Burroughs. The above link has a gallery of Tomine's other covers and they are all equally perfect, although I'm particularly partial to the one about moving to Jersey. Others love this updated "Shop round the Corner" image from 2008.

1 Comments on Nice Art: Adrian Tomine’s New Yorker cover gallery a snapshot of gentrification, last added: 8/28/2015
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3. Drawing children

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4. Not-so-new New Yorkers

I know this is not news, but, boy, there are a lot of New Yorker covers lately that were done by people (men) who are also illustrators. (Because my husband never throws them away, we’ve got a lot lying around.) Here’s an array.

(Top) Kadir Nelson and Harry Bliss; (Bottom) Christoph Niemann and Liniers.

(Top) Kadir Nelson and Harry Bliss; (Bottom) Christoph Niemann and Liniers.

Three covers by Barry Blitt.

Three covers by Barry Blitt.


The post Not-so-new New Yorkers appeared first on The Horn Book.

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5. you can do it on just three hours a day

"... three hours a day is all that's needed to write successfully. Writing is turning time into language, and all good writers have an elaborate, fetishistic relationship to their working hours. Writers talking about time are like painters talking about unprimed canvas and pigments. (Nor is there anything philistine about writers talking money. Inside the ballroom at the PEN banquet, it's all freedom and dignity; outside, it's all advances.)"

Adam Gopnik, "Trollope Trending," New Yorker, May 4, 2015

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6. thinking about the osmotic work of writers, today at Arcadia, and with the help of James Salter and Andrew Solomon

In a few hours, I'll be at Arcadia University for the Creative Writing Summer Weekend. I'll be teaching a private master class. At 3:00, my reading will be free and open to the public. I invite you to join us on this rainy day.

I've decided to focus on the idea of the osmotic for both the class and the reading. How we move from truth to fiction and back. How we empathize with both the real people in our lives and the characters that emerge from our dreams. How we maneuver imagination and compassion.

Today, choosing against the gym after a physically exhausting week, I had an extra hour to read and have spent that time in the company of James Salter. There, in the midst of a Paris Review Art of Fiction interview (with Edward Hirsch), I found Salter reflecting on this very topic:


You once said that the word fiction is a crude word. Why?


The notion that anything can be invented wholly and that these invented things are classified as fiction and that other writing, presumably not made up, is called nonfiction strikes me as a very arbitrary separation of things. We know that most great novels and stories come not from things that are entirely invented, but from perfect knowledge and close observation. To say they are made up is an injustice in describing them. I sometimes say that I don’t make up anything—obviously, that’s not true. But I am usually uninterested in writers who say that everything comes out of the imagination. I would rather be in a room with someone who is telling me the story of his life, which may be exaggerated and even have lies in it, but I want to hear the true story, essentially.


You’re saying it’s always drawn from life?

Almost always. Writing is not a science, and of course there are exceptions, but every writer I know and admire has essentially drawn either from his own life or his knowledge of things in life. Great dialogue, for instance, is very difficult to invent. Almost all great books have actual people in them.

Words I will share at Arcadia later today. Words that will help keep me balanced as I continue to reflect on what sort of osmotic project I might wrestle next.

Finally, today, I leave you with this—more words to be shared today at Arcadia. This time the writer is Andrew Solomon in The New Yorker and this time the osmotics concern youth and age:

This is what I will say to you most urgently: there are many obvious differences between middle age and youth, between having lived more and done more and being newly energized and fresh to the race. But the greatest difference is patience. Youth is notoriously impatient, even though there is no need for impatience early on, when people have the time to be patient. In middle age, the wisdom of patience seems more straightforward, but there aren’t so many days left. But Rilke is correct that we must all write as though eternity lay before us. Enjoy the flexibility that span of eternity offers. The discourse between the young and the nostalgic retains some of its inherent poetry in the form of a longing intimacy. The freshness of younger people awakens memories in older ones—because though you, young writers, are yourselves at the brink of your own future, you evoke the past for those who came before you.

0 Comments on thinking about the osmotic work of writers, today at Arcadia, and with the help of James Salter and Andrew Solomon as of 6/27/2015 10:40:00 AM
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7. The Jonah Lehrer Lies: But why?

Late last Friday afternoon, a client and I were discussing Jonah Lehrer.  My client had seen Lehrer talk, we'd both read Imagine. We liked the provocative style of Lehrer's work, his easy translations of harder-concept things. We liked that a guy like Lehrer got so much attention in a Fifty Shades world.

But just today, a few minutes ago, I was checking out at the grocery store, when my phone buzzed. It was my client, sharing a link to this Josh Voorhees Slate story, titled "Jonah Lehrer Resigns From New Yorker After Making Up Quotes."

I raced home to read the story on the full screen.  I churn now, within—confused, more than anything, as to why a young man as successful as Jonah Lehrer most certainly is would find it necessary, first, to fabricate Dylan for his book, and, second, to spin a complicated tangle of lies in the aftermath of being found out. Lie after lie.  Preposterous lies.  Not exaggerations, but lies.

Why do such a thing?  Why cannibalize a rising-star career?  Why jeopardize the faith of readers, an editor, friends?  Writers make mistakes—we all do, I absolutely do—but deliberate deceit is hardly a mistake.  Deliberate deceit is intentional, and designed.  It can't feel good.  Nothing will make it right.

There can only be, when lying as overtly as this, a terrible anxious rush in the middle of the night.

3 Comments on The Jonah Lehrer Lies: But why?, last added: 7/31/2012
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8. Oliver Sacks, David Foster Wallace, D.T. Max, Joyce Carol Oates, C.K. Williams: A morning spent reading

I had time, just now, that quiet time, of reading the magazines that came in last week.  Oh, the stolen deliciousness of it all.  In The New Yorker, I read of Oliver Sacks on his years dedicated, in large part, to experimenting with large doses of amphetamines, morning-glory seeds, LSD, morphine, and all other manner of neuro-shifters.  I thought of all the Sacks I have read these many years, of the seeming innocence of his beguiling childhood memoir, Uncle Tungsten:  Memories of a Chemical Boyhood, of his great empathy for patients and ferns and other earthly beings. His New Yorker essay delves, skips, and buries time before it rushes, headlong, toward its hard stop.  Sacks had discovered a book on migraines and it had become important to him.  He had a revelation about migraines.  He ...
... had a sense of resolution, too, that I was indeed equipped to write a Liveing-like book, that perhaps I could be the Liveing of our time.

The next day, before I returned Liveing's book to the library, I photocopied the whole thing, and then, bit by bit, I started to write my own book.  The joy I got from doing this was real—infinitely more substantial than the vapid mania of amphetamines—and I never took amphetamines again.
Writing books, Sacks suggests, saved him.  The next story I read, an excerpt from D.T. Max's much heralded biography of David Foster Wallace (in Newsweek), suggests how writing would and would not save this genius.  The excerpt, which focuses on Wallace's early correspondence with Jonathan Franzen as well as his infatuation with Mary Karr, suggests that this book is well worth reading as a whole.  I've always been a huge D.T. Max fan, and I'm certain I will learn from these pages.

In between the Sacks and the Wallace, I found two poems of interest.  Joyce Carol Oates has a chilling, compelling poem in The New Yorker called "Edward Hopper's '11 A.M.,' 1926"worth reading from beginning to end.  Oates was one of several authors who contributed to one of my favorite poetry collections (a gift from my sister) called The Poetry of Solitude:  A Tribute to Edward Hopper (collected and introduced by Gail Levin). Clearly this project, all these years later, continues to inspire.

Finally, within the pages of this week's New Yorker is a poem by C.K. Williams, one of my favorite living poets.  I had the great pleasure and privilege, years ago, of interviewing C.K. in his Princeton home for a magazine story.  Later, I saw him read at the Writer's House at Penn.  He remains vital, interesting, experimental, and honest, and his new poem, "Haste," is a terrifying portrait of time.  From its later phrases:

No one says Not so fast now not Catherine when I hold her not our dog as I putter behind her
yet everything past present future rushes so quickly through me I've frayed like a flag

Unbuckle your spurs life don't you know up ahead where the road ends there's an abyss? ... 
My first corporate interview isn't until 1 this afternoon.  I'm sitting down to read Truman Capote's In Cold Blood.  I figure it's time.

(That above, by the way, is my cat Colors, who lived with me for many years.  She's climbing into my bedroom window.  I'm eleven or twelve years old.  And I'm reading on my bed as she pokes her pink nose in.)

4 Comments on Oliver Sacks, David Foster Wallace, D.T. Max, Joyce Carol Oates, C.K. Williams: A morning spent reading, last added: 9/8/2012
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9. James Wood on Tom Wolfe's use (or not use) of meaningful detail

After a long day and an even longer week, I collapsed on the couch with my New Yorkers.  Does anyone else feel this way?  My New Yorkers.  I want to know what these writers know.  I want to write a single sentence like they (or some of them) write.  I want to give you what I read and think.  For now, here is this.  It's James Wood talking about Tom Wolfe's latest novel, Back to Blood.  Wood is reflecting on details that resonate, those that feel organic, and those that sour the prose with obvious, unlived research.  Listen in (for the whole, buy the October 15, 2012 issue):
The important details, the ones that make fiction's intimate palpability, cannot simply be scooped up off the sidewalk.  Tolstoy, praised as a realist by Tom Wolfe, took the germ of "The Death of Ivan Ilyich" from an actual story about a judge in a nearby town who had died of cancer; but one of the most beautiful moments in the novella surely came from Tolstoy's imagination—or, rather, from his patient loyalty to Ivan's invented reality.  I mean the moment when Ivan Ilyich, lying on his couch, in great distress and loneliness, remembers "the raw and wrinkly French prunes of his childhood, their special taste, and how his mouth watered when he got down to the stone."

Very occasionally in this novel, Wolfe gives evidence that he knows the difference between those French prunes and "Hotchkiss, Yale ... six-three."  At one point, Nestor, fleeing the opprobrium of his community, ends up at a favorite Cuban bakery, where he enjoys "a whiff of Ricky's pastelitos, 'little pies' of filo dough wrapped around ground beef, spiced ham, guava, or you name it.... He had loved pastelitos since he was a boy."  It's a rare passage without exclamation marks, and superficially it resembles Ivan and the prunes.  But the detail about the patelitos has the whiff not of pastry but of research.

1 Comments on James Wood on Tom Wolfe's use (or not use) of meaningful detail, last added: 10/14/2012
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10. Nathan Heller on Twentysomethings, and the power of the second-person pronoun

Nathan Heller is a patient, comprehensive reader, a man not prone to snap conclusions.  Which is why I enjoyed his recent New Yorker story (January 14, 2013 issue) on twentysomethings.  He remembers himself all those years ago.  He reviews the literature of the young and the literature of those who purport to know about the young, and he wonders out loud in a voice both determined and delicate.  This is how he ends his piece—a masterful, undamning, bittersweet conclusion.  Here is how you is I, and how you is us:

The shock of the twenties is how narrow the window of experience really is, and how inevitable it seems both at the time and afterward.  At some point, it is late, too late, and you are standing on the sidewalk outside somewhere very loud.  A wind is blowing.  It's the same cool, restless late-night breeze that blew on trampled nineteen-twenties lawns, and anywhere young people gather.  Nearby, someone who doesn't smoke is smoking.  An attractive stranger with a lightning laugh jaywalks between cars with a friend, making eye contact before scurrying inside.  You're far from home.  It's quiet.  All at once, you have a thrilling sense of nowness, of the sheer potential of a verdant night with all these unmet people in it. For a long time after that, you think you'll never lose this life, those dreams.  But that was, as they say, then.

3 Comments on Nathan Heller on Twentysomethings, and the power of the second-person pronoun, last added: 1/29/2013
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11. "The Rise of the Failure Memoir," my failures, and other ruminations

A list of the things that I did wrong in writing the first 200 pages of my Florence novel:

* Having the audacity to think that I could fit it in during this season of Extreme Busyness (though I had to fit it in, on behalf of a fellowship project I was teaching).

* Choosing to escape the frightening avalanche of emails by taking the book off the computer altogether and writing it in small spurts on the iPad. Good for scenes. Horrific for continuity.

* Giving myself a tremendously complex set of plot points and intersections to manage with a brain now too crowded to manage anything but the bare rudiments of daily life.

* Pushing ahead through the panic, as opposed to calling the panic off completely, and reconsidering. (But I had to push ahead; I was teaching this novel to a student.)

Finally, a few weeks ago, I did stop. Threw almost all of what I had away and started over. New technology. Simplified plot. More sleep. Less work at midnight hours. Less anxiety about the mountains of books and emails flooding in. Yesterday, Friday, was the first day since I began the book last October that I could work on it for an entire continuity-seeding stretch. Last night was the first night that I slept, unpanicked. There's a ton of work to do. But there's a working foundation.

Since I was giving myself some breathing room I decided to go one step farther down the easing road and read through some of the New Yorkers that have gathered here in this season of Extreme Busyness. First up: Giles Harvey's contemplations, "Cry Me a River: The Rise of the Failure Memoir."(March 25 issue) A look at the crop of memoirs that have emerged from failed novelists. Memoirs about failures—hmmm, I thought, I could have written one of those, if I didn't already understand that we all have our failures, our shames to work through.

Most interesting to me was this paragraph about the failure of the novel in our era—something we've all heard much about. Harvey is reflecting on David Shields (that inveterate provocateur) in this passage.
Shields tells a story about how he reached this conclusion ["that the novel is no longer up to the task of representing contemporary life"]. In the eighties and nineties, he spent "many, many years" trying to write a novel about this country's obsession with celebrity culture through the lens of a married couple's domestic life, a kind of American version of Kundera's "Unbearable Lightness of Being." The project stalled when Shields came to find the conventional novelistic apparatus (plot, dialogue, character) cumbersome and irrelevant to his deepest concerns. He discovered that the essayistic digressions he had written and was planning to insert into his novel were themselves the book he wanted to write.... "Forms are there to serve the culture, and when they die, they die for a good reason—or so I have come to believe, the novel having long since gone dark for me."
I'm not going to stand in full Shields agreement here, or in agreement with every one else who says the novel is dead. Because I'm still reading and loving novels, and I'm still learning, from the best of them, what language can do, what stories can be, what humanity is capable of. The novel has not gone dark for me—not as a reader and not, if I can just stay focused, as a writer. Light is hard to come by, true. But I'm obsessed with the light.

4 Comments on "The Rise of the Failure Memoir," my failures, and other ruminations, last added: 4/1/2013
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12. Adrian Tomine covers The New Yorker with 9/11 Memorial


This week’s New Yorker has a cover by Adrian Tomine, and he discusses it inside the magazine:

“When I heard that the 9/11 memorial and museum were going to be the top tourist attractions in New York this summer,” Adrian Tomine says about this week’s cover, “I first sketched only tourists going about their usual happy activities, with the memorial in the background. But when I got to the site, I instantly realized that there was a lot more to be captured—specifically, a much, much wider range of emotions and reactions, all unfolding in shockingly close proximity. I guess that’s the nature of any public space, but when you add in an element of such extreme grief and horror, the parameters shift.”

I haven’t been down to the new memorial and have no plans to soon, although some out of towners I know who have gone enjoyed it greatly. Maybe later. Tomine’s cover certainly captures the many emotions inspired by just thinking about a visit.

1 Comments on Adrian Tomine covers The New Yorker with 9/11 Memorial, last added: 6/30/2014
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13. Behind the Beautiful Forevers/Katherine Boo: Reflections

With Behind the Beautiful Forevers, Pulitzer Prize winner Katherine Boo does more than merely bear witness in Annawadi, the slum that grew up in the shadows of the Mumbai airport and features a sewage lake, horses painted to mimic zebras, and every possible form of corruption.

She does more than sit with the trash pickers, the schemers, the envious, the hungry, the souls who conclude that death is the only way out.

She tells a story. She involves her readers in the intimate dramas of an open-wound place. She compels us to turn the pages to find out what will happen to the prostituting wife with half a leg, the boy who is quick to calculate the value of bottle caps, the man with the bad heart valve, the "best" girl who hopes to sell insurance some day, the "respectable" rising politician who sleeps with whomever will help her further rise, the police who invent new ways to crush crushed souls.

She engages us, and because she does, she leaves us with a story we won't forget. Like Elizabeth Kolbert, another extraordinary New Yorker writer, Boo takes her time to discover for us the unvarnished facts, the pressing needs, the realities of things we might not want to think about.

But even if we don't think about them, they are brutally real. They are.

A passage:

What was unfolding in Mumbai was unfolding elsewhere, too. In the age of global market capitalism, hopes and grievances were narrowly conceived, which blunted a sense of common predicament. Poor people didn't unite; they competed ferociously amongst themselves for gains as slender as they were provisional. And this undercity strife created only the faintest ripple in the fabric of the society at large. The gates of the rich, occasionally rattled, remained unbreached. The politicians held forth on the middle class. The poor took down one another, and the world's great, unequal cities soldiered on in relative peace.
Like the photos featured in this earlier blog post, the picture above is not Mumbai; I've never been to India. It is Juarez, another dry and needing place on this earth.

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14. Fusenews: In which I find the barest hint of an excuse to post a Rex Stout cover

  • I’ve been watching The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt recently.  So far the resident husband and I have only made it through two episodes, but I was pleased as punch when I learned that the plot twist in storyline #2 hinged on a Baby-Sitter’s Club novel.  Specifically Babysitter’s Club Mystery No. 12: Dawn and the Surfer Ghost.  Peter Lerangis, was this one of yours?  Here’s a breakdown of the book’s plot with a healthy dose of snark, in case you’re interested.
  • And now a subject that is near and dear to my heart: funny writers. Author Cheryl Blackford wrote a very good blog post on a comedic line-up of authors recently presented at The Tucson Festival of Books. Mac Barnett, Adam Rex, Jory John, Obert Skye, and Drew Daywalt were all there.  A good crew, no?  One small problem – we may be entering a new era where all-white male panels cannot exist without being called into question.  Indeed, I remember years ago when I attended an ALA Conference and went to see a “funny authors” panel.  As I recall, I was quite pleased to see the inclusion of Lisa Yee.  Here, Tucson didn’t quite get the memo.  The fault lies with the organizers and Cheryl has some incisive things to say about what message the attendees were getting.
  • Speaking of Adam Rex, he’s got this little old major feature film in theaters right now (Home).  Meanwhile in California, the Gallery Nucleus is doing an exhibition of Rex’s work.  Running from March 28th to April 19th, the art will be from the books The True Meaning of Smekday and Chu’s Day.  Get it while it’s hot!
  • Boy, Brain Pickings just knows its stuff.  There are plenty of aggregator sites out there that regurgitate the same old children’s stuff over and over again.  Brain Pickings actually writes their pieces and puts some thought into what they do.  Case in point, a recent piece on the best children’s books on death, grief, and mourning.  The choices are unusual, recent, and interesting.

Chomping at the bit to read the latest Lockwood & Company book by Jonathan Stroud?  It’s a mediocre salve but you may as well enjoy his homage to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  Mind you, I was an Hercule Poirot fan born and bred growing up, but I acknowledge that that Doyle has his place.  And don’t tell Stroud, but his books are FAR closer to the Nero Wolfe stories in terms of tone anyway.

Over at The Battle of the Books the fighting rages on.  We’ve lost so many good soldiers in this fight.  If you read only one decision, however, read Nathan Hale’s.  Future judges would do well to emulate his style.  Indeed, is there any other way to do it?

You may be one of the three individuals in the continental U.S. who has not seen Travis Jonker’s blog post on The Art of the Picture Book Barcode.  If you’re only just learning about it now, boy are you in for a treat.

“Really? Rosé?”

That one took some thought.

  • Daily Image:

And now, the last and greatest flashdrive you will ever own:

Could just be a librarian thing, but I think I’m right in saying it reeks of greatness.  Many thanks to Stephanie Whelan for the link.


7 Comments on Fusenews: In which I find the barest hint of an excuse to post a Rex Stout cover, last added: 3/29/2015
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15. Children’s Illustrators and The New Yorker

Drooker 223x300 Childrens Illustrators and The New YorkerMy husband Matt pairs well with me for a number of reasons.  Amongst them is our mutual inclination to collect things we love.  As such, Matt has systematically been holding onto all his issues of The New Yorker ever since he got his subscription in college.  Over the years these issues have piled up piled up piled up.  I was a Serials Manager before I got my library degree and one of the perks of the job was getting lots of lovely magazine holders. For years these holders graced the tops of our bookshelves and even came along with us when we moved into our current apartment a year ago.  Yet with the arrival of our puir wee bairn, we decided to do the unthinkable.

Yes.  We ripped off all their covers.

Well, most anyway.  We have the complete run of New Yorker text on CD-ROM anyway, and anything published after the CD-ROM’s release would be online anyway.  Thus does the internet discourage hoarding.

In the meantime, we now are the proud owners of only three boxes worth of New Yorker covers.  They’re very fun to look at.  I once had the desire to wallpaper my bathroom in such covers, but that dream will have to wait (as much as I love New York apartments and all . . .).  For now, it’s just fun to flip through the covers themselves and, in flipping, I discovered something.  Sure, I knew that the overlap between illustrators of children’s books and illustrators of New Yorkers was frequent.  I just didn’t know how frequent it was.  Here then is a quickie encapsulation of some of the folks I discovered in the course of my cover removal.

Istan Banyai

Zoom and Re-Zoom continue to circulate heavily in my library, all thanks to Banyai.  I had a patron the other day ask if we had anything else that was similar but aside from Barbara Lehman all I could think of was Wiesner’s Flotsam.  Banyai is well known in a different way for New Yorker covers, including this controversial one.  As I recall, a bit of a kerfuffle happened when it was published back in the day.

Banyai Childrens Illustrators and The New Yorker

Harry Bliss

Author and illustrator of many many picture books, it’s little wonder that the Art Editor of The New Yorker, Ms. Francoise Mouly, managed to get the man to do a TOON Book (Luke on the Loose) as well.  And when it comes to his covers, this is the one I always think of first.

Bliss Childrens Illustrators and The New Yorker

12 Comments on Children’s Illustrators and The New Yorker, last added: 7/28/2011
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16. Ronald Searle New Yorker covers, anyone?

Ronald Searle New Yorker covers, anyone?

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17. W&N buys book by New Yorker pic

Written By: 
Charlotte Williams
Publication Date: 
Fri, 19/08/2011 - 10:20

Weidenfeld & Nicolson has acquired a collection of stories by Nathan Englander, one of the New Yorker's "20 Writers for the 21st Century", whose previous works have been published by Faber.

Editorial director Arzu Tahsin bought UK and Commonwealth rights from Arabella Stein at the Abner Stein Literary Agent on behalf of Nicole Aragi in an auction. What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank will be published in February 2012, with Knopf to publish in the US.

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18. We Can’t All Be ‘Funny’

BY JEN VAUGHN – Vermont cartoonist James Sturm wrote an insightful piece on submitting cartoons to the New Yorker posted on the Slate. As a cartoonist or unfortunately termed ‘graphic novelist,’ Sturm is used to drawing stories in the long term, stretching a few hundred pages, panel upon panel upon panel upon YES, panel. How Sturm spent his summer vacation was a cartoon a day to build up a keeper-portfolio for The New Yorker. Sturm relearned to let go of the beats you find in a long-form comic to sketch loosely and effectively situations right after that something funny, something intangible occurred. He includes many of his cartoons in the article including this close-to-home joke and one of my favorites: when the caption is recycled for a different situation.

16 IraGLASS We Cant All Be Funny

Now I won’t ruin the article for you but Sturm did the numbers and basically went to the office with his portfolio along with “50 regular New Yorker cartoonists who submit 10 cartoons each week. That’s 500 cartoons vying for about 12 to 20 slots.” What may have eventually felt absurd to Sturm is still an inspiring journey to most cartoonists. Getting a cartoon accepted to the New Yorker is a milestone for some people but at one point so was getting into Nickelodeon magazine or for that matter, getting a company to publish your own work. Kudos to Sturm for his open door, open heart and keep on swingin’ for those fences (baseball metaphor mine).

SturmBaseball 819x1024 We Cant All Be Funny

Jen Vaughn was recently spotted diving off the Floating Bridge by New Yorker cartoonist Ed Koren, who recognized her but commented that she had more clothes on the last time they met.

3 Comments on We Can’t All Be ‘Funny’, last added: 8/25/2011
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19. New Yorker/Picture Book Artists: Ian Falconer – Beyond Olivia

At the end of July I created a post on New Yorker cover artists who also did picture books for children.  Well, I showed just a scant hint of some of the covers I have in my possession, and now seems like a good time to bring some others out for one and all to see.  And who better to start off this regular series than fan favorite Ian Falconer: He of the undeniable Olivia.

Falconer’s a particular favorite of the New Yorker, his covers dating back at least until the late 90s.  I could throw a whole bunch of them up here, but what I find interesting about New Yorker artists is how they can sometimes create small series of covers that go undetected unless you place them all together.  Take Falconer’s Easily Shocked Old Lady (or ESOL).  The Easily Shocked Old Lady is a Falconer staple.  She walks through this world of ours with a true fear of changing mores and habits.  Sometimes we identify with her.  Other times we are encouraged to enjoy her squirming.  And the poor woman appears unable to go anywhere without getting a case of the vapors be it . . .

At the museum

In a department store


Or even just taking an elevator

The ESOL is a kind of anti-Olivia.  Like Falconer’s most famous pig heroine, the ESOL prefers to wear red and white with some black (though she may try a bit of pink if she’s feeling adventurous).  Her hair is carefully swept back in a “do”, pearl earrings in place.  Sometimes I worry that her feet hurt wearing those black heels (though clearly she’s in good shape if she’s skiing).

There is one cover where a woman who looks a heckuva lot like the ESOL appears and it is Falconer’s cheeriest image.  I’m fond of it because it allows us a glimpse into her personal life.  Gone are the trappings of the New York lifestyle.  She’s clearly on vacation, a fact I ascribe to her hair which has reestablished its natural curl (she probably hasn’t been to her stylist in a while).  She’s still wearing her customary red, but now it’s with stretchy pants and shoes that won’t pinch her anymore.  With her, just as nerdily American, is her husband, waistband maki

9 Comments on New Yorker/Picture Book Artists: Ian Falconer – Beyond Olivia, last added: 9/8/2011
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20. "You’re not going to succeed unless you give it everything that you got, because giving it..."

“You’re not going to succeed unless you give it everything that you got, because giving it everything you got is how you develop what you actually have.”

- Bob Mankoff: An Interview

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21. Blown Covers of the New Yorker

Blown Covers of the New Yorker:

Francoise Mouly, famed art editor of the venerable New Yorker, has started a blog. She writes on FB:

I’m launching a Blown Covers website where I’ll be running weekly themed Blown Cover contests (submit your sketches! I’ll review them all and post the winner every Friday), talking about the week’s New Yorker cover and showcasing my favorite artists.

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22. Françoise Mouly launches Blown Covers blog

tumblr m02ini3af81r801jw Françoise Mouly launches Blown Covers blog
On the “authority” scale, the idea of New York cover editor Françoise Mouly launching a blog about New Yorker covers and art would rank….very high. And so Blown Covers, which she describes as a personal blog. Although it’s unafiliated with the New York, she’s holding weekly themed New Yorker cover contests and is “always on the lookout for good ideas and great artists.” So yeah, this is an audition.

This week’s theme is the idiom “In like a lion, out like a lamb” and submissions are open until Thursday at noon, along with four examples of past covers inspired by the phrase including this beauty by Lars Hokanson/Frances Cichetti, and one by art spiegelman. The contest is definitely open to comics artists, so knock yourself out!

Other weekly features include artists spotlights, inspiration posts, and so on.

Need we say…bookmark?
tumblr m02eaiilxx1r801jw Françoise Mouly launches Blown Covers blog

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23. “…in the last decade our fiction writers use only ‘I’…”

Katharine S. White to Elizabeth Lawrence, March 17, 1960:

Next, I had to wind up a huge job I’ve been working on for six months—The New Yorker stories—1950-1960….The book will be out next fall but it still is not quite settled as to contents, order of stories etc. etc. It is a compromise selection, to suit the taste of five editors. I merely headed up the chore, but Bill Shawn of course has the final word. Most of what we have together is, I think, first rate writing but the trouble is that in the last decade our fiction writers use only “I” and their favorite themes are death, childhood, or the past. It was a jigsaw puzzle to fit it together. The South and Ireland are also in the ascendancy. I love the South but not Ireland (I confess) and I would gladly have cut out a couple of Irish stories but was voted down. My feelings do not apply to Frank O’Connor.

(Yet another quote from Two Gardeners: A Friendship in Letters, edited by Emily Herring Wilson. I’m only halfway through, so I expect there will be more.)

Two Gardeners: A Rabbit Trail
“I have had to give up writing to my close friends”

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24. katiecturner: printmag: Image of the Day: Katie...



Image of the Day: Katie Turner illustrates “My Week With Marilyn” for The New Yorker. See more of her lovely work at her site.


Lovely piece from Katie Turner.

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See more of Shelley's Blown Covers HERE

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