13 Ways to Read The New Yorker

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Confession.  This is how I really read The New Yorker.

1.  Find your New Yorker right where it always is:  in Friday’s stack of mail, tucked between the local coupons and People magazine.

2.  Grab that New Yorker and admire the cover.  “Get” the cover or “don’t get” the cover.

3.  Worry whether you’re really smart enough to get The New Yorker. 

4.  Open to the Table of Contents and scan to FICTION.  Determine if the author is living or dead.  Feel strangely relieved if they’re alive.

5.  Imagine your very own name in italics next to the all-caps FICTION.  How fucking cool would that be!?!

6.  Note page number and turn to FICTION.  Read the first few lines, maybe a few paragraphs.  Realize you can’t remember the last time you read one of these stories all the way through.

7.  Admit #6 to no one.  See #3 above.

8.  Go back to the beginning and quick flip through each and every page for the cartoons.  The cartoons!!  Yea!!  Sigh when finished.  Decide on a favorite.

Roz Chast for The New Yorker — Aug 13 & 20, 2012

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9.  Flip past the first 25  pages of New Yorky stuff.  Imagine that real New Yorkers use these pages to plan their weekends and evenings.  Evenings and weekends way more exciting than yours.

10.  Read the first piece in TALK OF THE TOWN.  It’s about President Obama.  Recall last night’s phone call with your aunt from the Midwest.  If you’re so fucking smart, smarty pants, why can’t you convince her that Mr. Obama is a U.S. citizen and is not a radical Middle Eastern terrorist planted in the White House by the devil, as predicted, in the Bible?

11.  See #3 above.

12.  Toss your New Yorker on the kitchen counter and ogle the shiny pretty pictures in People magazine instead.  Pour a glass of wine.  Start making dinner.

13.  After dinner, when your husband asks if you really even read The New Yorker anymore, that maybe you don’t need a subscription, fly into rabid self-defense.  You read them all !!  You read them all the way through !!  Show him your favorite cartoon.

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How do you REALLY read your New Yorker?

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22 thoughts on “13 Ways to Read The New Yorker

  1. Josephine

    1. Take from top left rack of Carmichael’s magazine shelf
    2. Instantly swallow bitter rabid swirls of jealousy over Emily Nussbaum’s bylines and topics
    3. Flip to someone beside Emily Nussbaum
    4. Put back on shelf
    5. Grab Town & Country, Poets & Writers, The Sun (put The Sun back after realizing I already have that issue)
    6. Start to walk away, turn back around and grab New Yorker
    7. Take stack of magazines outside with my chai and read whatever Emily has written first

    1. Teri Post author

      Love it! And at your favorite bookstore too. 🙂

      I’m pretty sure that once you have a subscription, you can’t cancel it and still be considered a writer. Sky would fall and all that.

      Also, I always want more David Sedaris. If I see his name in the TOC, it get very wonky and excited, in a too-much kind of way.

  2. independentclause

    I don’t. Their poems suck. Although I grew up with the New Yorker and remember puzzling through their movie reviews as a young teenager, trying to wade through New Yorker-speak and strange indie documentaries to figure out what I wanted to see.

    1. Teri Post author

      I read one poem in last week’s issue, but this is rare. I don’t read the poems. Ever.

      I can’t imagine what it would be like to grow up with TNY in the house. I always dreamed about those houses … 😉

    1. Teri Post author

      When I find a great article, I’m mown right over. But I have to admit that it’s rare for one to pull me in. I wish this weren’t the case, but there it is.

    1. Teri Post author

      Oh my god. Intrigued and intimidated. That describes how I feel exactly, every Friday afternoon when the mail comes. I swear I pick up that magazine and look around, like I’m about to be caught stealing, like the Smart Police will show up any minute and rip it from my uneducated little hands.

  3. LauraMaylene

    Hahaha!

    Here’s mine:

    1 Flip to table of contents to see who wrote the piece of fiction.
    2. Stifle frustration at whoever the author is, whether it’s a young (and well-connected) shooting star or a Nobel winner or some big-time, much-translated writer I never heard of from a country I didn’t even know was a country.
    3. Think of all the poor saps who have ever submitted their stories cold to the New Yorker (yours truly included here) and how none of them ever, ever had a shot.
    4. Think of the massive quantities of stories that must flood the New Yorker from every corner of the world, basically from any human being who ever attempted to write anything because hot damn, this is the New Yorker, and start to feel some sympathy for the editors. Although, it’s not like they ever see any of that stuff.
    5. Flip to Shouts & Murmurs.
    6. Get irritated if that section isn’t in this issue.
    7. Get more irritated if it is there and has the nerve to not be funny.
    8. Settle into one fascinating 8,000+ word article.
    9. Feel exhausted afterward, and maybe a little smug, and make plans to read all the other Very Smart Articles but usually don’t get around to it.
    10. Cartoons.
    11. Get all judgy about the photo caption contest entries at the end.
    12. Wait for Peter to show up so he can check out the cover, when 8 times out of 10 he’ll study the design, roll his eyes, and groan, “What a bunch of assholes” or something along those lines. This and only this is the moment my New Yorker experience is complete.

    Also, I let my subscription lapse for the sole reason that this magazine stressed me out big time. It just keeps coming! Even when you have one of those off weeks where they skip an issue, it STILL stacks up and makes with the guilt. But I still “read” it — someone here at work, who also feels incredibly guilty for the way they stack up around her office, gives me her issues after she reads them. THE GUILT REMAINS. I’m telling you, New Yorker guilt is like no other, and that bitch will track you down even if you stop paying her. I may have to enter the witness protection program.

    1. Teri Post author

      Hahahaha! Peter’s response? Love it!

      I’m certain they’ll take away my writer card for life if I cancel my subscription. They’re probably waiting outside your door this minute. I’d be careful if I were you.

  4. LauraMaylene

    p.s. The fiction can be really hit or miss for me. Sometimes, they publish stories I really, really love. (Did you read Egan’s “Black Box” story in the Sci-Fi issue??) I do remember once in the last year or two that I read a story in there that I thought was flat-out bad. Like, if someone had submitted that to one of my writing groups, I would have been depressed. But generally, I probably connect with maybe 30% of their stories and am fairly neutral/disinterested in most of the rest.

    1. Teri Post author

      I honestly can’t remember the last time I read a story all the through —– oh, wait, maybe it was “The Dinner Party.” At least I think that was the name. I bet if I look it up I’ll be shocked at how long ago it was. A year?? At least???

      Usually the stories have names of towns and people I can’t pronounce. Or they’re by David Foster Wallace or John Updike. I love these 2 writers, but seriously, don’t they have a million stories from living writers to choose from? See, now I feel bad. What horrible person thinks this?

      I feel bad. These 3 words pretty much describe my relationship with TNY. It’s my abusive spouse, but I’m codependent and can’t, won’t, leave.

  5. Princess Sisi

    Oh Teri, what a fun post. I’ve lived in my current house for two years, and keep thinking that it’s time to re-up my subscription (in my old house I kept reupping until I noticed that my subscription went years into the future, and then began recycling those pesky solicitations).

    I miss the NYer, but don’t miss the loathsome feeling described in all the “top tens” above. But still.

    I have this fantasy that my new style will be this sort of midcentury-slash-Asian minimalism. That magically no more junk mail will find its way to me. There will be a dearth of piles surrounding me. (one look at my bed–aka, desk– at this very moment, and you’d be laughing out loud at that one). In this fantasy, I install a chip in my brain and turn on a faucet-like spigot to download all the NYer cocktail party banter into my brain each week. Then suck everything that isn’t essential down the drain. Alas.

    But, the cartoons! I love the memoir one. Love it.

    1. Teri Post author

      I want that exact same spigot, Suzy.

      And now I see that all I need to do is move to a different house and change my name to something European and aristocratic and they’ll never be able to find me!!

  6. CJ Rice (@leapof)

    Very fun. Now that I have the iPad app I read more of every issue because fipping fast through slithery pages doesn’t keep my husband up at night and the light stays politely off. My idea of time management.

  7. jpon

    Some great observations, Teri. Here’s a few of mine:
    – Scan the TOC for this week’s investigative news feature. If I’m lucky, it’s a medical article by Atul Gawande.
    – Read the first paragraph of the fiction story. Mumble the word, “pretentious,” several times.
    – Peruse the one column ads in the back to make sure the weird little man with the French beret is still there.
    – Try and fail to come up with a caption for the cartoon contest.
    – Read the rest of the cartoons.

    1. Teri Post author

      Hahaha, Joe! And that cartoon contest used to make me crazy. I wonder how many entrants they get for that each week?

      The FICTION section baffles me. I always read the first few lines or paragraphs and think, “If you have to grab the reader here — and by all accounts you MUST, or not be considered — where’s the grab? Where?!?!?!” I can rarely figure out why something was chosen.

  8. girl in the hat

    My stack of unread NYers is so huge it has engulfed the coffee table. I’m thinking I should just stack them neater and turn them into a coffee table. Just put a piece of glass on top or something. After a couple years, I’ll throw the whole pile out and start building a new coffee table. Why does it have to come out so effing often, I want to know. Too much of a good thing for sure.

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