Friday, August 17, 2007

Decline and Fall: What's Wrong at The New Yorker?

Even during the school year, Fosco always reads The New Yorker. I would like to suggest that it is a defining characteristic of any New Yorker subscriber to feel as if the magazine was at its best when she began her subscription and that ever issue since then has been symptomatic of a decline. Fosco still cherishes his memories of the editorship of Tina Brown and execrates the muscular current events focus of Dandy Little David Remnick. But suddenly, in the last few months, The New Yorker has been getting pretty bad. Ergo...

Welcome to new recurring feature here at Fosco Lives!: a column grousing over editing/fact-checking/writing problems at The New Yorker.

This week's offense is from the "Talk of the Town" piece by octagenarian baseball aficianado Roger Angell. Read closely:

Bonds's record dinger, in the fifth inning of a night game against the Washington Nationals at Petco Park, in San Francisco, came in his third at-bat of the evening, succeeding a loud double and a single. (p.25)
I don't think you have to be Morganna the Kissing Bandit to notice the factual error in the above sentence. Of course, Petco Park is in San Diego, not San Francisco. The San Francisco ballpark in which Barry Bonds hit his "record dinger" is, as millions of people know, AT&T Park. Do they have fact checkers at The New Yorker anymore? Do editors read Talk of the Town pieces? And is Roger Angell senile? I want answers.

Oh, let's do one more... I owe this one to the editorial-eye of my good friend Jean Goddard. It's from John McPhee's essay on the US Open golf tournament from the 8/6/07 issue.
Soon, though, a day of epiphany came, on a specific round, when, aged twenty-four, clearly, if not for the first time, I envisioned golf as a psychological Sing Sing in which I was an inmate.
Readers of this blog know that Fosco is a longtime admirer of John McPhee, but the above sentence is hideous. McPhee should have to give back the Pulitzer for writing it. And even if McPhee thought this was a good sentence, is he now beyond editing? Couldn't a New Yorker editor have done something about all those commas?

1 comment:

m said...

I have to admit that I haven't written anything scholarly in awhile but that last one is making me cringe.