« The Science of Sleep | Main | Calamity »


The seventh New Yorker Festival has come and gone, and I'm pooped! Ms NOLA and I attended five events this year - none of them the ones that she really wanted to see, but all available several minutes after the tickets went on sale on 7 September. I lost precious minutes to updating my credit card information at Ticketmaster. We live and learn.

To get an idea of the fun we didn't have, check out Emily Gordon's delirium at Emdashes. We were much more sober - there was no dry ice, and all the drinking was done in advance. Malcolm Gladwell gave an electric presentation about computerized assessment of movie plots capable of suggesting changes that will add millions to the box office. I didn't bother to remember the details, because the story is going to appear in The New Yorker tomorrow - or it would if tomorrow weren't a federal holiday (= no mail). It was good to hear John Ashbery read some of his poems, and Ann Lauterbach joined him for the reading of a portion of Litany. In that work, two readers speak at the same time, and the result probably sounds strange to people who don't try to eavesdrop at cocktail parties.

Otherwise, it was stand-up comedy all the way. Gary Shteyngart, George Saunders, Calvin Trillin, Anthony Lane, Mark Singer even - all of these men can take to the stage whenever they please. Mr Shteyngart won't even have to work out a routine. The chunk of Absurdistan that he read was a great deal funnier than it had been on the page. Mr Lane could not have talked faster, but his paean to Ava Gardner forced him speak overtime. (It was almost embarrassing: we were confronted with a man who seemed prepared to throw his life away for an actress's smile.) Mr Saunders read some forthcoming stuff that I can't wait to have entire.

The demographic shifts were interesting: heavily under-thirty five for the novelists, Mr Gladwell, and Mr Ashbery; heavily retired for Mr Trillin (in conversation with Mr Singer). Without making a point of doing so, Mr Trillin's conversation ranged over the history of The New Yorker, the staff of which he joined the year after I started reading it. He had keen things to say about journalism, and how very protected from its rush New Yorker writers used to be. Afterward, at lunch, I chewed over what he'd said, and came to see that this relatively new feature, the New Yorker Festival, has taken the venerable magazine one step closer to an institute of higher learning. Students of The New Yorker University scuttled across the campus of Manhattan in pursuit not so much of edification as of the kind of solidarity that the best universities' students feel.

Last year's Festival was something of a bouleversement for me, mostly because of Malcolm Gladwell's talk about preciousness and late blooming. This year's Festival bore traces of sophomore slump: nobody said anything that got to me where I live. That's not a complaint by any means! I hope that I get to go to at least six events next October! Three cheers for TNYU!


TrackBack URL for this entry:

I am a kottke.org micropatron

Powered by
Movable Type 3.2