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Friday, June 16, 2006


TNR has a bunch of fun stuff to read:

1.  Lee Siegel on the unbearable lightness of Gladwell.  While we're on the subject, you might want to check out Noah Tall's parody Blank: The Power of Not Actually Thinking At All.  As described on the back of the book, "Noah Tall is a longtime subscriber to The New Yorker and other magazines that people leave on their coffee tables when they want to look smart. . . .  He is the author of the highly acclaimed national bestseller The Tippling Point, which has yet to be published. "

2.  An editorial on net neutrality.  I'm still hoping Google can discriminate against porn providers to give San Francisco residents quality and quick free wireless.

3.  A scathing review of Mansfield's Manliness by Martha Nussbaum.  This is surely a very good example of a book that would have faded into obscurity fast if it hadn't been written by a Harvard professor.  Or perhaps people still would have felt the need to discredit it even if it was written by an obscure professor and published by the Penn State Press.  The New York Review also felt the need to run a review about this book by Garry Wills here.  A very oddly-written review, I might add.

4.  Pieces by Charles Larmore and Steven Pinker.

Could TNR be making a comeback?

Posted by Ethan Leib on June 16, 2006 at 02:08 PM | Permalink


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Seigel's critique is lousy. Yes, I am a Gladwell enthusiast. Yes, I glory to his flowing prose and neat explanations. I probably do not scrutinize him with sufficient vigor. But Siegel, ironically enough, resorts to the same level of criticism that he is supposedly so offended by in Gladwell's writing: the meta-explanation. Pandering to his supposed audience of liberals (And why? What self-respecting liberal still reads TNR? I suspect half their subscriptions go to people who died before they could cancel them. It's been terrible since Michael Kinsley left.), he suggests that Gladwell is a con in liberal's clothing. Oh the irony. Oh the irony, TNR. Well, Gladwell doesn't always boost business. He is fascinated by success and that, in our society, is often associated with business. But try this one on for size if you think that he mindlessly fellates the cult of business acumen:


Now, I don't know Siegel's writing. He could have redeeming qualities or he could be a complete hack. But one's thing clear: this article is not a return to form for TNR. Far from it. Siegel's article is a sad retread of the go to move of TNR: well, you think X is great? HA! X is lousy, see! Weak.

If, relatedly, TNR wants to get back to where it ought to be, it should follow Peter Beinart's lead and conduct a soul search of how it allowed itself to get conned into becoming a cheerleader for the Iraq war and all the false premises that went along with that. Taking on the cross-town guys at the New Yorker? Not gonna get it done.

Posted by: Bart Motes | Jun 17, 2006 12:56:52 AM

Well, if it is making a comeback, it's a comeback from last week's unreadable cover story on Oprah by ... Lee Siegel. It read like a parody of a TNR putdown article.

Posted by: mb | Jun 16, 2006 8:58:01 PM

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