I saw Cold Souls on Pay-Per-View tonight. It stars Paul Giamatti as Paul Giamatti, a man who literally unburdens his soul in a Soul Storage company run by Dr. Flintstein (David Strathairn). How does Giamatti hear of the Soul Storage company? A friend calls him and tells him to the read the latest issue of The New Yorker.
Unable to sleep, Giamatti trudges into his living room and picks up the “latest issue” of The New Yorker. The issue that Giamatti picks up features Barry Blitt’s actual cover for the May 28, 2007 issue, called “Half-Staff.”
But the article inside is entirely fictional. Nevertheless, in terms of layout, type, and tone, it is entirely convincing as a New Yorker article. It is written by a (fictional) writer named Sarah Shruber. The article features the same headline and subtitle format, with the name of the article, “Soul Storage,” underneath the headline of “Unburdening made easy.” Its subtitle is: “Are New Yorkers tired of carrying their souls?”
The movie itself was reviewed in the New Yorker by Tad Friend, and a piece was also written on the film by Anthony Lane. “Paul learns about soul storage from an article in this magazine,” Lane writes, “and I seriously considered checking the archives.”
No matter what your opinion of the film is, if you see it, you’ll have to admit that they created a convincing facsimile of a New Yorker article, and used, thankfully, the Irvin type.
Hello! We're a small band of culture writers, editors, and artists based in New York and Los Angeles. Emdashes, which spent its formative years as a New Yorker fan blog, is our collection of conversations—mostly civilized—about magazines, movies, design, punctuation, and other things that stir us.
Want to know more about the people who contribute to Emdashes, and the secret meanings behind our column titles? All about us.
We welcome tips, questions, comments, and corrections, and are always on the lookout for ardent, obsessive contributors. Click here to email us.
We host occasional book giveaways. Publishers, please email us for our postal address.
Looking for The New Yorker magazine? Kudos on your classy taste. Here's how to contact The New Yorker.
Emdashes, founded in 2004, is written and drawn by Emily Gordon, Martin Schneider, Pollux, Jonathan Taylor, and Benjamin Chambers, as well as occasional guest contributors. All posts before October 2008 are by Emily Gordon.