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Jeffrey Frank's Playlist, a Police Cloud, and Magazine Pests

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Today at Largehearted Boy, Jeffrey Frank, New Yorker senior editor and author of the new novel Trudy Hopedale, picks a bunch of tracks his characters—“Trudy herself—a woman of a certain age who loves giving parties and has local talk show—and Donald Frizzé, a young historian who’s probably best known for appearing on television rather than for anything he’s actually written”—might have as their soundtrack. Frank has a little riff on each choice, from Elvis Costello to Sam Cooke to the great Alison Krauss. If this were a podcast, I’d download it—for now, I’m reading the book. Here’s the David Sedaris blurb: “Another triumph from one of America’s most reliable and inventive comic novelists. Trudy Hopedale is understated, cunning and relentlessly funny.”

More reviews: The Imperfect Parent considers the beautiful new children’s book by Christoph Niemann, The Police Cloud. At the Chicago Tribune, Christy Lemire has a welcome meditation on the movies coming out this summer by women directors, and why there still aren’t enough of either.

Finally, in his Bakersfield, California, newspaper column, Herb Benham takes a new switch to the old “New Yorkers are infesting my house” horse. Someone could assemble a tiresome anthology of identical postwar, post-Wolfe pieces twitting the magazine’s insular elitism (I’d like to see Katherine Boo’s report on Louisiana mothers or George Packer’s investigation into the dangerous lives of Iraqi translators in a magazine matching the world Benham sketches: “Pour me a Boodles and tonic and open up my place at the Hamptons”), even as the frazzled subscriber curses his habit. Volume two would be devoted to the irony-impaired.

You’re never going to win me over comparing The New Yorker to a cockroach, even if the little bugger is “as much a fashion accessory as it is a literary magazine, suggesting that the subscriber might be a person of sophistication and breeding,” as Benham writes of the magazine. After decades of family conditioning and fearsome resistance, I’ve seen the light, and know no one should keep stacks of magazines in their house; organizing manuals advise clipping the pages you want and recycling the rest. (This is also one of the many arguments for getting hold of The Complete New Yorker.) Meanwhile, it’s just not that hard to keep up with the gist of each issue at the very least; time on public transportation helps, but Benham probably has to drive a lot. May I recommend the audio version?


Thank you so much for pointing out this silly carping about the magazine. IMO it really can’t be exposed often enough. Am I being hopelessly elitist if I point out that Time Magazine and Entertainment Weekly also share this insidious quality of arriving once a week?

Further: the misdemeanors attributed to The New Yorker obviously cancel themselves out — the charges of being “snotty” or “elitist” or a “humor” magazine carry the implication that its claims to genuine substance are overblown, but to point to its tendency to pile up week after week can only mean that its rich veins of content are acting as a nag. Too little substance, too much substance, make up your minds already!

As before, Time and EW show up every single week too (they don’t even give their readers the occasional week off!), but nobody feels like they can’t keep up with those two. What makes The New Yorker a nag is that it’s so good.

And the New York Times arrives every day (as does, presumably, the Bakersfield Californian). I once wrote a screed about the former; I’ll have to dig it up!

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