Help me! I need a fix!
October 1, 2005 1:52 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to recreate the thrill I used to get reading NON-fiction articles in the pre-Tina Brown "New Yorker" (yeah, I know she's no longer the editor, but I can still smell her when I get too close to a current issue), and I'm wondering if I can do it online by following a group of literate blogs (or other online resources?).

I DON'T want to read anything topical.

I DON'T want to read anything political.

I want well-written, personal essays on obscure topics. (I've taken to reading random pages of Wikipedia, but it's a bit to scematic for my tastes.)

When Tina Brown took over the "New Yorker," she scoffed at the articles that the magazine used to publish, citing one on zinc as a laughably obscure example. Well, I read that article on zinc and LIKED it.

I liked the fact that the NYer writing was SO good that I could pick it up and read an article at random -- an article on a subject that didn't even interest me -- and the writer would draw me in.

The closest I've ever found online was Unfortunately it's been dead for years. I also like "This American Life" when they're straying from the political/topical. But I want something I can read -- not listen to. Help!
posted by Evangeline to Media & Arts (15 answers total)
Response by poster: By the way, I already know about the NYer archives on DVD.
posted by Evangeline at 1:53 PM on October 1, 2005

I like The Morning News. A good portion of it is fiction, but not all. Also try Other Peoples Stories.
posted by atom128 at 1:56 PM on October 1, 2005

I don't have an answer Evangeline, just wanted to say that this was a GREAT question. I am exactly the same way. I miss it so much, and truth is, it will probably never happen again. People rave about Shawn, but for this type of writing, I think Gottlieb's New Yorker was the best.
posted by vronsky at 2:09 PM on October 1, 2005

Do you follow Arts & Letters Daily?
posted by johngoren at 2:13 PM on October 1, 2005

John McPhee is writing for the New Yorker again; his article on coal trains last week was fantastic, as was his piece on riverboat pilots earlier this year.
posted by nicwolff at 2:20 PM on October 1, 2005

I second (highly) John McPhee! Here's his official website.

Also, check out...
Adam Gopnik

Donald Hall

Michael Ruhlman

David Sedaris

Sarah Vowell
posted by ericb at 2:48 PM on October 1, 2005

My bad ... the five links are bad. Here are ones that work:

Gopnik, Hall, Ruhlman, Sedaris and Vowell.

Oh -- and consider Tracy Kidder.
posted by ericb at 3:00 PM on October 1, 2005

IMHO, the jewel of The New Yorker was and remains Louis Menand. If you haven't read The Metaphysical Club, do so immediately. It's one of the best books I've read in the past few years. I can't wait for his next book on the Cold War (I saw him lecture and it was spectacular).
posted by allen.spaulding at 4:50 PM on October 1, 2005

While I certainly sympathise with any feeling that “they just don’t do it right any more...,” I must say that I still read and love the NYer just as you describe: something I can pick up at random and settle down with for a guaranteed good read about interesting stuff by equally interesting and impressive writers. I miss the huge profiles and the occasional endless essay on unlikely stuff, too, but I still love the critiques and the reviews and the personal histories and the overviews of current scholarship. The recent piece on Gertrude Stein and her first novel was a perfect example.

So...imo, there’s still gold in them hills; just heading off now to dig some more, perched on a driftwood “sofa” with a few random issues twisted into my jacket pocket while my wife beach-combs along the southern Oregon coast. In the middle of gorgeous nowhere, I’m connected to the best of the rest of the world...because the NYer is STILL the best magazine in the world.
posted by dpcoffin at 4:56 PM on October 1, 2005

I was just recently turned on to a Montreal-based magazine called Maisonneuve. Website here.

The topics appear to be wide and varied. For example, there was a really good personal piece about dieting, another about kangaroo killing and how the National Gallery is spending taxpayer dollars.
posted by quietfish at 5:23 PM on October 1, 2005

ericb: Sarah Vowell does not avoid politics. Not hardly. I love political writing, but I grew tired of the constant opinions re current politics in "Assassination Vacation."
posted by raysmj at 7:58 PM on October 1, 2005

Damn, dpcoffin, you read my mind.
posted by docpops at 9:20 PM on October 1, 2005

The London Review of Books does this kind of thing - the pieces are mostly book reviews, but only loosely - they always have good writers who construct an interesting piece around their theme. Sometimes they will have more general pieces, not based around books.

I imagine the New York Review of Books does a similar thing?
posted by altolinguistic at 8:04 AM on October 2, 2005

So just read the old NYers on DVD. Also, read John McPhee's books; I've read 20+ of them and they're all great. Read E.B. White.

Also, can someone please explain why the NYer has to have a Fashion issue -and- a Style issue, and why I shouldn't slap them for it?
posted by neuron at 12:52 PM on October 2, 2005

Best American Essays anthology (yearly).
posted by matildaben at 5:18 PM on October 2, 2005

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