Last week must have been a busy one at America’s leading crypto-newsweekly. The announcement of Osama bin Laden’s death last Sunday hit the New Yorker at the worst possible moment in the publishing cycle, when bin Laden–free issues were already off the presses and in the mail. (Nice show of gratitude , Mr. President.) So this week’s table-of-contents promotional email feels a little frantic—there was the foreign news to be caught up to and seriously grappled with, but the regular news-and-culture calendar could not wait. So:
David Remnick on Osama bin Laden; Steve Coll on the making of a modern fanatic; Lawrence Wright on Pakistan; and Jon Lee Anderson on Afghanistan. Plus: Malcolm Gladwell on the mouse; Judith Thurman on Alexander McQueen; Anthony Lane on Pixar; John Seabrook on snacks in the age of obesity; James Surowiecki on Dropbox; Joan Acocella on Paula Fox; Joyce Carol Oates on Margaret Drabble; Sasha Frere-Jones on Stevie Nicks; John Lahr on “The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures”; Anthony Lane on “Everything Must Go” and “Thor”; fiction by Michael Ondaatje; and more.
Eh, OK, that sounds resoundingly fine. Nothing wrong with falling back on muscle memory in a crisis. But how much more exciting would it be to open the mailbox if Remnick had shaken up the assignments a little? Anthony Lane on Osama bin Laden, for starters. I would read that immediately. How about:
• Malcolm Gladwell on Margaret Drabble.
• Sasha-Frere Jones on “Thor.”
• Michael Ondaatje on snacks in the age of obesity.
• Jon Lee Anderson on Alexander McQueen.
• Joan Acocella on the making of a modern fanatic.
• James Surowiecki on Pixar.
And definitely, definitely David Remnick on Stevie Nicks.