Glen Magnuson, Jr.
- A good day begins with the NYTimes, NPR, Arts & Letters Daily, Sacred Space & good coffee; it ends with a Grand Marnier. A brilliant day would be spent in London, New York or San Francisco -- although Sydney would be right up there. Unwinding in Carmel or Antibbes. Daytime spent in library (the Morgan, LOC or Widener) or museum (the Frick, the Louvre, British) with a healthy walk (around Lake Annecey); evening -- theatre (West End), or music (Carnegie Hall). A nice last meal: Perhaps the French Laundry or Fredy Giardet or Quennelles de Brochet from Taillevent, Cassoulet from Cafe des Artistes, Peking Duck from le Tsé-Fung, Lobster Savannah from Locke-Ober, Sacher Torte from Demel and Café Brulot from Antoine. Sazerac as an apéritif, Le Môntrachet in the beginning, Stag's Leap Cabernet in the middle, Veuve Cliqûot to conclude. Desert Island: Imac, Ipod, (I know, generator and dish necessary) Johnnie Walker Blue Label, wife & Adler's Great Books.
Yesterday, The New Yorker made all of its magazine pieces since 2007 freely available online for three months. After that time, everything will go behind a metered paywall, along the lines of what the New York Times has in place. So what should you read during this three-month free-for-all? We canvassed Slate staff for their favorite New Yorker articles, essays, profiles, and fiction from 2007 to the present. Our annotated list of 30 stories, divided semi-arbitrarily into seven categories, is below.
Perhaps once you’ve gotten through these, you’ll decide to shell out for a subscription and enjoy unlimited access even after this grace period is over.
POLITICS AND WORLD AFFAIRS“Hellhole,” March 30, 2009. Atul Gawande provides a groundbreaking examination into whether solitary confinement in the United States constitutes torture.
“Eight Days,” Sept. 21, 2009. This exhaustively reported story by James B. Stewart recounts the closed-door dealings that went down after Lehman Brothers imploded.
“The Empty Chamber,” Aug. 9, 2010. George Packer offers a sobering take on the staggering dysfunction and obstructionist theatrics that prevent progress in the United States Senate.
“Netherland,” Dec. 10, 2012. Rachel Aviv delivers a powerful, shocking, and brilliant story on LGBTQ homeless youth.
“Taken,” Aug. 12, 2013. Sarah Stillman’s reporting illuminates an appalling, pervasive practice that you won’t believe actually exists.
PROFILES“Master of Play,” Dec. 20, 2010. In this surprisingly rich profile of Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of Super Mario Brothers and grandhomme of Nintendo, Nick Paumgarten explores what we seek out when we play.
“How To Be Good,” Sept. 5, 2011. Larissa MacFarquhar’s profile of Oxford philosopher Derek Parfit addresses deep questions of morality, happiness, and suffering.
“Dr. Don,” Sept. 26, 2011. Peter Hessler’s profile of a small-town druggist in Colorado is a story of place as well as simple humanity.
“You Belong With Me,” Oct. 10, 2011. In Lizzie Widdicombe’s profile of Taylor Swift, the songstress comes off as a genius purveyor of teen-angst in tune form and an earnestly sensitive and precocious star.*
“The Yankee Commandante,” May 28, 2012. David Grann profiles William Morgan, an American who fled to Cuba and fought alongside Fidel Castro and Che Guevara in the Revolution, only to be executed by firing squad under Castro’s orders.
CRIME“Trial By Fire,” Sept. 7, 2009. David Grann’s gripping story demonstrated that by executing Cameron Todd Willingham for the murder of his family, the state of Texas may very well have killed an innocent man.
“The Pink Panthers,” April 12, 2010. David Samuels’s account of a band of brazen jewel thieves from the Balkans reads like a sophisticated detective novel.
“The Throwaways,” Sept. 3, 2012. Sarah Stillman provides a crucial exposé about the use of young offenders as confidential informants.
“A Loaded Gun,” Feb. 11, 2013. In this thorough and troubling crime story, Patrick Radden Keefe examines the life of Amy Bishop, who killed six of her colleagues in a mass shooting, and 25 years ago, may have killed her brother, too.
SCIENCE“Swingers,” July 30, 2007. This widely celebrated story by Ian Parker complicated the popular notion of the bonobo, a type of chimpanzee that had been hailed for its supposedly peaceful, sex-loving disposition.
“The Itch,” June 30, 2008. Atul Gawande probes the fascinating medical mystery of a woman whose puzzling itch caused her to scratch all the way through to her brain. Warning: might make you itchy.
“God Knows Where I Am,” May 30, 2011. Rachel Aviv’s look at mental health patients who reject their psychiatric diagnoses is smart and heartbreaking in equal measures.
PERSONAL ESSAYS“The Running Novelist,” June 9, 2008. Translated from Japanese, this essay by Haruki Murakami chronicles the parallels between a career as a novelist and a passion for running.
“Thanksgiving in Mongolia,” Nov. 18, 2013. Ariel Levy’s candid personal account of her brief but life-altering experience with motherhood is devastating.
“The Unmothered,” May 9, 2014. Ruth Margalit tenderly captures her experience of grief after losing her mother to cancer, detailing the unexpected ways in which it unfolded.
ARTS AND CRITICISM“Noble Savages,” Feb. 27, 2012. One Slate staffer recalled reading James Wood's review of Edward St. Aubyn and “just thinking that it is impossible to write any better than that.”
“Danse Macabre,” March 18, 2013. David Remnick exposes the Bolshoi, once the jewel of Russian culture and favorite for political patronage from the Kremlin, as an organization struggling to retain its relevance, artistry, and prestige in modern times.*
“Home Fires,” April 7, 2014. George Packer takes on the literature of war, the memoirs of veterans, and the power of the storytelling.
“Midnight in Dostoevsky,” Nov. 30, 2009. This short story by Don DeLillo centers on a pair of college students taking a logic class together and wondering about a stranger they see around town.
HUMOR“Guy Walks Into a Bar,” by Simon Rich, Nov. 18, 2013. This Shouts & Murmurs piece this is the best 12-inch pianist joke of all time.
INSTEAD OF A PREFACE
During the frightening years of the Yezhov terror, I spent seventeen months waiting in prison queues in Leningrad. One day, somehow, someone “picked me out.” On that occasion there was a woman standing behind me, her lips blue with cold, who, of course, had never in her life heard my name. Jolted out of the torpor characteristic of all of us, she said into my ear (everyone whispered there)—“Could one ever describe this?” And I answered—“I can.” It was then that something like a smile slid across what had previously been just a face.