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Elizabeth Kolbert on Silent Spring, in The New Yorker

One fine day in June, 1962, I screwed myself up to my full height (6'4½" at that time) and bought a copy of The New Yorker. I was fourteen, but carrying The New Yorker around convinced me that I could just skip the rest of adolescence. Which turned out to be not so hot an idea. But with a few occasional lapses, I would be a regular reader of the magazine for the next forty-five years (next month).

I bought the issue for June 16, 1962. I know this because The Complete New Yorker tells me so. I remember the cover - a bevy of brides drawn by an illustrator who would become very dear to me (as a reader), Abe Birnbaum. The Complete New Yorker also confirms my recollection that the first installment of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring ran that week. I did not read all three installments all the way through - I had nothing like the stamina necessary to swallow such adult fare. And I wasn't all that into nature or corporate shenanigans. I was into the idea of founding my own version of The New Yorker, which I would call The Quill, and not facetiously, either: I was trying to learn to write with quill pens at the time. You do things like that when you decide that you can skip adolescence. And quill pens are certainly better for the environment.

Elizabeth Kolbert on Silent Spring, in The New Yorker.


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