If It’s In The New Yorker, It Must Be So (Or At Least Well-Written)

I’ve been a subscriber to The New Yorker magazine for 20 years or more. Earlier, my dad used to tell me about New Yorker writers he met as a bank manager on Times Square  (when The New Yorker was located there) and who sent their best wishes to me when I left home for college.

The New Yorker features simply great writing on a host of interesting subjects. In the current issue, the two pieces I’ve read so far are about the reenactment of Underground Railroad trips from the era of slavery and a discussion of whether Jeanne Calment really was the oldest person who ever lived when she died in France, at 122, in 1997.

The New Yorker is approaching its own centennial, having been founded by Harold Ross and his wife Jane Grant, a New York Times reporter, on February 21, 1925. “Ross,” advises Wikipedia, “famously declared in a 1925 prospectus for the magazine: ‘It has announced that it is not edited for the old lady in Dubuque.'” It is, however, edited meticulously.

“Shortly after the end of World War II, John Hersey‘s essay Hiroshima filled an entire issue.” There was this editors’ note: ” “TO OUR READERS. The New Yorker this week devotes its entire editorial space to an article on the almost complete obliteration of a city by one atomic bomb, and what happened to the people of that city. It does so in the conviction that few of us have yet comprehended the all but incredible destructive power of this weapon, and that everyone might well take time to consider the terrible implications of its use. The Editors.”

Yes, for scrupulous, occasionally historically conscious writing and editing, there’s no better place to turn than The New Yorker. It’s “host” is Eustace Tilley, the name given to the “19th century boulevardier languidly inspecting a passing butterfly through his monocle” who graced the cover of the first issue.


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