The New Yorker: Juicy Journalism

The New Yorker Logo

Magazines and newspapers are quite often thought of as rather dubious forms of intellectual expression. Tabloid and gossip magazines, too often at the forefront of new stands, connote a filthy feeling of trashy paparazzi journalism, with their airbrushed cover girls and less than factual facts, casting the entire journalism industry in an unflattering and morally questionable light. Newspapers often fall into this same bracket, my own town’s daily newspaper being so often riddled with spelling and grammatical errors that it’s too nauseating to read. However, these examples, though often monopolising the journalistic limelight, are only a sliver of the news industry and if you label all magazines and newspapers as inferior publications, you are doing yourself a great disservice, depriving yourself of a cornucopia of succulent articles, reviews and reports.

For quite a while, I was of the very unjust opinion that magazines were for those who couldn’t commit themselves to an actual book. I didn’t much care to read my friends’ favourites, Girlfriend and Dolly, nor was I inclined to spend $8 reading about Kim Kardashian’s new diet. I read real books and that’s all there was to it. Recently however, I discovered the other side of the journalism coin: the very shiny side; the side with juicy content, grammatical perfection, thorough research and sublime presentation. And let me just take a moment to lament all the time I’ve spent without it…

The New Yorker magazine has become a regular must-read for me. Far from the sickeningly shallow and inaccurate likes of sleaze journalism, the New Yorker is a thoughtful, diverse and informed collection of feature articles, politics, artistic reviews, pictures, fiction and poetry. Because I was such an angelic girl in 2011, Santa Claus left an iPad 2 in my stocking and I have therefore been able to subscribe to the New Yorker’s electronic version (a postal subscription being somewhat impractical considering my living in Australia). As a glorious result, I’ve read an in depth review of Meryl Streep’s portrayal of The Iron Lady, I’ve revelled in the poetry of Leonard Cohen and I’ve even stumbled across a fascinating and extraordinarily well-informed comparison of the film and book versions of Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. A worthwhile allocation of my funds? You bet.

What really does make The New Yorker a divine publication, sent straight to Earth from the gods and goddesses of journalism, is the balance it achieves between informed, intelligent, researched writing and artistic, creative, satirical presentation. More so than for its content, I think The New Yorker is famous for and instantly recognisable by its cover art. Without ever displaying the flawlessly-skinned faces of young celebrities accompanied by article tasters, The New Yorker is adorned with thematic art, tailored to reflect its major feature article or the current economic, political or social climate. Always designed with talent and cleverness, the cover art can be deeply read into and interpreted in a variety ways, though always managing to clearly communicate its general gist.

Some examples of my favourite The New Yorker covers:

The New Yorker Magazine

On the tenth anniversary of 9/11, The New Yorker shows the ghosts of the twin towers reaching downward from Ground Zero.

The New Yorker Magazine

Illustrated by Ana Juan, this cover pays tribute to fashion designer, Alexander McQueen, who committed suicide a few weeks before this cover ran. He had once created a hat designed entirely of butterflies.

The New Yorker Magazine

In commemoration of Steve Jobs' death, this cover features him at the Pearly Gates with St Peter on an iPad. Note the very demanding, hands-on-hips stance of Jobs...

The New Yorker Magazine

In celebration of the 84th Academy Awards, The New Yorker's cover is that of a group of Oscar trophies no doubt drowning their sorrows as would the unsuccessful artists.

The New Yorker magazine saved the entire journalism industry from my to-avoid list of literary forms and I highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in in-depth and thoughtful articles about politics, the world and the arts. Should you not find its feature articles of great consequence, at least you’ll be entertained and intrigued by its cover art, its poetry, its fiction examples and its commentary on the art scene. Impeccable writing, thoughtful content and witty illustrations…what more could a nerd want?

Where the Sidewalk Ends

Where the Sidewalk Ends

If you are a dreamer, come in,

If you are a dreamer,

A wisher, a liar,

A hope-er, a pray-er,

A magic bean buyer…

Come in… for where the sidewalk ends, Shel Silverstein’s world begins. You’ll meet a boy who turns into a TV set, and a girl who eats a whale. The Unicorn and the Bloath live there, and so does Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout who will not take the garbage out. It is a place where you wash your shadow and plant diamond gardens, a place where shoes fly, sisters are auctioned off, and crocodiles go to the dentist.

Could you think of anything more perfect for a Friday morning than a cocktail of creative nonsense, magic, rhyme and bizarre profundity? Nothing quite melts my ice-cold heart (frozen by the ungodly hour at which my alarm clock decided to ring) on a weekday morning like a generous dose of gobbledygook.

Shel Silverstein

Shel Silverstein’s Where the Sidewalk Ends is a wonderfully ridiculous book of illustrated poetry. With a knack for penning brilliant nonsense and for drawing absurd, vivid and quaint illustrations to match, Silverstein has bequeathed the world with a book that is brimming at once with hilarity and profundity; little nuggets of wisdom embedded within little tales of such bizarre ludicrousness, they could rival the musings of Tim Burton.

If you take the time to flip through this compilation, you’ll discover the Glurpy Slurpy Skakagrall, a pair of Dancing Pants, a Double-Tail Dog and Hector the Collector. You’ll laugh so hard that snot will fly from your nose, you’ll raise your eyebrows in pure bewilderment and you’ll cock your head to the tone of an epiphany. It has it all and the best thing about it is that you needn’t more than a minute to spare to pluck from within its binding at least a sample of Silverstein’s genius. Little tiny poems for stolen moments. Long and wild ones for your lunch hour. It is a book for all occasions, for all moods and for all hours. And I guarantee, it will make you smile.

Shel Silverstein should be recognised as a great contributor to the medical industry for discovering what I feel to be the most effective form of antidepressant yet!