Thursday, December 17, 2015

New Yorkers

The pile of New Yorkers I had pulled from Mary's bedside table had grown ludicrously high over on my dresser. It was maybe 20 inches tall, threatening to totter over and splay itself all over the floor. Some of them date back to 2013. So I began culling it a couple of weeks ago.

Yes, it would perhaps be wisest to just stick them straight into the recycling bin, as more disciplined friends of mine do, but I nonetheless torture myself by looking through them to see if there are articles that I should be reading. In this most recent process I've pulled out articles by particularly esteemed folx:  Andrew Solomon, Peter Hessler, and John McPhee.

McPhee, I know, can be a risky one, particularly when he breaks meta on the reader and reflects on the process of writing. Not that there are very many whose reflections on the craft would be much more interesting than his, as he has written many a good word about a wide range of subjects. But still, he can be pretty arch. But his piece on interviewing in an April 2014 issue was better than most, actually worthwhile, perhaps because it conveys his persistent enthusiasm for his craft.

Peter Hessler, however, somehow seems to have not quite arrived in Egypt in the same way he was in China, though he has now been there for four years or so. It seems that he is viewing deep cultural immersion as something of a parlor game that he thinks he can repeat, but Egypt doesn't seem to have drawn him in in the same way as China did. I suspect it is because he was young then, and now is less so. And that its hard to perform at an improbably high level in any field forever.

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