This week’s special food issue of The New Yorker would be worth reading without any specifically New York–oriented content. But fans of the locavore movement will probably want to flock to Adam Gopnik’s long piece on eating the fruits of the five boroughs (if you consider live poultry from the Bronx fruit, that is). Friend of Grub Street Gary Shteyngart has a moving little memoir about his boyhood love of McDonald’s that got us right in the kishkas. (Similar essays are by Anthony Lane, David Sedaris, and Nell Freudenberger.) But most enjoyable of all was Calvin Trillin’s essay about Singapore street food.
The T. Rex cantilevered over the famous writerly heads at the PEN gala last week at the Museum of Natural History supplied a metaphor too crushingly obvious for any of the assembled literary luminaries to use. Which didn’t make it any less valid: With one daily newspaper after another dropping book coverage, the world of letters hasn't felt this vulnerable since the first TVs flickered on. “Literature is going the way of this dinosaur!” proclaimed a very trim Gary Shteyngart. “Wait, Salman Rushdie has already said something like that, ” he continued. “Let’s elaborate. Hang on. If the literature is the dinosaur, then the creeping national illiteracy is the meteoric event that Okay, this is not working. I can’t be pithy with my clothes on.” Within minutes, Rushdie himself arrived, accompanied by supposedly estranged wife Padma Lakshmi. His take on the book-critic shortage: “When I was starting out, any novelist’s debut, no matter how small, would get reviewed across the country. I would hate to be a young writer right now.” Letting Lakshmi get momentarily lost in the crowd while he finished his point, Rushdie added, “But let me tell you, it’s a dangerous game. The newspapers that are cutting people’s attention to reading may be cutting their own throats.” —Michael Idov
Absurdistan author and Lower East Side denizen Gary Shteyngart is 40 pages into a new novel about "a guy who eats really well and wants to live forever." We're thinking it's a bit autobiographical, given what he ate during the days between Friday, September 22 and Wednesday the 27th.