Trump Derangement Syndrome hit The New Yorker magazine early and hard; they coasted into the election confident that adopted New Yorker Hilary Clinton was going to grab the White House, a comfortably old-school feminist explanation point to the Dem's Long March through the fed.gov, and instead they got a different New Yorker, crass and loud and clearly Not Their Sort.
The election knocked them off their center and the magazine still hasn't recovered. This makes me sad; the level of writing to be found in The New Yorker is refreshingly high, at least in general, and anyone who aspires to tell stories well benefits from reading the good stuff. I enjoy Lester Dent but he'd be the first to tell you that he wrote as quickly as possible, with little attention to style or, sometimes, even grammar. He told wonderful stories -- even within painfully formulaic plots, Dent maintains consistency and keeps the action going in a manner few other writers manage -- but he never told them quite as well as he would have liked. Late in his life, he turned out a detective novel that reads like proto-John D. MacDonald, but he was never satisfied with it, feeling his ability to write really good prose had been impaired by a career-long habit of speed.
The New Yorker has a different problem these days: they tell -- in the finest of style -- dismal, paranoid stories fixated in horror on President Trump, stories that jar with one another, in which the President is a moron on one page and a scheming, unpredictable madman on the next, and elsewhere, he's plotting to loot the nation's coffers, as sure as sunset. Apparently, one of the effects of Trump Derangement Syndrome is to render the victim unable to grasp contradiction, leaving the magazine tottering along in a kind of senile concern about what that loud fellow in Washington (or Florida) is really up to while unable to discern any of the reality at the heart of the shouting.
It's sad, really, but perhaps it only reveals a lack of perspective that had been in place for years. Alas, the magazine that introduced the work of Charles Addams to the world isn't at all what it used to be.
4 weeks ago