I’m clearing out some more of the stack of New Yorkers that always seem to get way ahead of me, and in the spirit of The New Yorkerest noting the best pieces. If you should happen to run into one of these issues in a waiting room, these are the can’t-miss stories and articles.
March 7, 2011
Backbone by David Foster Wallace
Nor was it ever established precisely why this boy had devoted himself to the goal of being able to press his lips to every square inch of his own body. It is not clear even that he conceived of the goal as an “achievement” in any conventional sense.
Wallace mixes historical discussions of contortionists, yogis, and stigmatists with the story of a young boy who is methodically perfecting his flexibility so he can kiss each part of his body. Having kissed it once, he moves on to the next spot, with grueling focus. As an aside, one wonders if David Foster Wallace will be the American answer to Roberto Bolaño, with a torrent of posthumous publications.
Story’s End by Meghan O’Rourke
Yet the story of Orpheus, it occurs to me, is not just about the desire of the living to resuscitate the dead but about the ways in which the dead drag us along into their shadowy realm because we cannot let them go.
A touching, brief memoir about stories, reading, lakes, and death.
February 28, 2011
Paranoia by Said Sayrafiezadeh
When April arrived, it started to get warm and everyone said that the war was definitely going to happen soon and there was nothing anybody could do to stop it.
A bleak, uneasy story about the nervousness–personal and political–of the contemporary world.