It's going to be a warm and sunny weekend, which is a good thing considering that you're not going to be indoors reading the Sunday New York Times. If the Big Three sections (Arts, Books, Mag) are any indication, you'll quickly scan the sports scores and then head out to the park for some ultimate frisbee or whatever. So now we will helpfully describe to you, rapid-fire, what you'll be skipping over so you can sound all smart next week. You're welcome!
Arts & Leisure: There is an absolutely colossal Michiko Kakutani review of books by presidential candidates. This is the kind of story that runs every four years (like Dennis Kucinich) and Kakutani brings nothing new to the table, although she does limn the shit out sixteen different titles. We're left wondering why this is in A&L at all? Was it too long for Week In Review? Is the famous wall that keeps Kakutani out of the NYTBR really that impenetrable? Is this the new face of Scott Veale's A&L regime? Elsewhere: Ben Ratliff argues that rock reunions are actually good things, Terrence Rafferty appreciates Barbara Stanwyck, and noted homosexual Frank DeCaro considers "Maude." Also there is something about married architects.
The Magazine: Front of the book is typical. Michael Pollan is talking about food again. Terry Eagleton tolerates the Deborah Solomon treatment. Rob Walker consumes tattoos. There's another "How I fucked up, by a doctor" Diagnosis. Rob Corddry takes you through the apartment he rents in L.A. (Good call, Rob: We've seen "The Winner." You're gonna be back in New York real soon.) The Funny Pages surprises by actually being funny (Kevin Guilfoile, more please) but what is the deal with "Watergate Sue," the new cartoon fronting the section? Are they trying to make us nostalgic for the awful "La Maggie La Loca"? Because it's working. Michael Chabon goes on and on.
The magazine proper starts off with a Charles McGrath article on Martin and Kingsley Amis. Presumably it's tied to the domestic publication of Zachary Leader's (excellent, BTW) Life of Kingsley, but, like the Kakutani piece in Arts, do we really need another "Martin and Kingsley: The Parallels" piece? We get it. They were both writers. There are many similarities. But also? There are many differences! There's a big article on remittances: their effect on the economy and their effect on the families of those who must migrate to find work. Looks kind of serious. This is the broccoli that the magazine runs to justify the ice cream of the fashion spread. There are some pictures of birds in Rome. There's the fashion stuff, the food stuff, your real estate ad porn, and finally, Lives. A friend of ours has a joke that Lives is either about someone who has been molested or someone who is forced to deal with a traumatically ill relative (preferably a child), but that neglects the third option—clash of cultures—which the Magazine goes with this week. Here's the description: "A visit to Shanghai leads to an encounter, which establishes a connection, which reveals a divide," which causes us to close the issue.
Book Review: The most interesting section of the three, possibly because the Kakutani and Amis pieces were placed elsewhere. Liesl Schillinger—the hardest working woman in the review business, and one of the most disturbing!—takes a look at the journals of Leo Lerman, the writer and cultural tastemaker who has been forgotten by all but the "sun-seeking stems craning out of the thicket of magazine-world Manhattan." (Maybe a week's vacation is in order, Liesl.) Better, the Atul Gawande collection of medical essays, gets a rave. There's a review of a new biography of Dorothy Schiff, who owned the Post prior to Rupert Murdoch's first tenure. D.T. Max does not like Dana Vachon's Mergers & Acquisitions, noting that, "Socially the '00s may be the '80s all over again, but even so, no book purporting to bring us cultural news should be set in an M&A division in 2007." Which is true, finance is so not a part of the picture in contemporary New York. The back page essay is something about Russia and archives. Apparently, Russian President Putin does not much believe in openness. Rare book dealer David Bauman has a first American edition of Moby-Dick. And we're out.
So, all in all, not a lot there. We never thought we'd say this, but: Help us, Styles, you're our only hope! Enjoy your weekends, everyone.