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Talk of the Town

For my birthday earlier this month, Christopher gave me a copy of The Complete New Yorker. It’s exactly what the title says — every issue of The New Yorker (up to February 14, 2005), spread across eight DVDs. Sure it’s buggy, some of the scanned artwork is splotchy and the article abstracts appear to have been written by non-English speaking interns, but overall this is pretty damn cool. Amazon has it for only sixty bucks, the deal of the century.

Although many Amazon customers complained about installing the browsing software, it was no problem with me. In five minutes, I got it going and was already collecting archived articles as a reading list (a handy feature) to look through later on. I might never get through, say, Lillian Ross’ multi-part exposé on the movie business from 1952, but it’s nice to have it handy anyhow.

One feature in this set’s software allows you to browse issues by cover. This is heaven. I love all phases of the NYer covers, from the early Art Deco ones to the more typical pastel-hued landscapes and still lifes. Once Art Spiegelman became art director in the early ’90s, the covers got wilder and more topical. I especially dug R. Crumb’s cover from 1994, which updates Eustace Tilly as a heavy-lidded slacker studying a porn leaflet. Heck, I’ve browsed plenty. Use it to trace the development of cartoonist Roz Chast (her earliest work is very primitive and funky), or the twilight years of Charles Addams.

Perhaps the greatest use for the set is just picking a typical issue and leafing through the pages. Thankfully, they’ve also included every ad in every issue. I love paging through a 1938 issue to find that, for example, Campbells Cream of Mushroom Soup is the preferred meal for the busy hostess to serve “expected guests”. There’s also a million little things to marvel at in the older editions, like the brilliant fashion columns of Lois Long, or the tiny illustrations they used between the columns, or the multitudes of theatre ads in the back … well, you get the idea.

4 Thoughts on “Talk of the Town

  1. Anonymous on October 29, 2005 at 9:25 pm said:

    Wow. Just…wow. I’ve been reading The New Yorker ever since I can remember (which is quite a while…sigh). I may just have to pungle out the $60 – that is a phenomenal bargain.

  2. There were some great covers back in the 50’s and early 60’s, too. Care to share with us some of those? Or maybe I should just bought the whole darn thing….

  3. I’d love to, but there’s just too many good ones! The one pictured above is the very last Charles Addams cover they published, by the way.

  4. Oh, hooray for the ads! I’ve been eyeing that for my Christmas list, and was hoping they were included.

    Also, welcome back!

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