6. Oates, Joyce Carol (2010, March 29) I.D. The New Yorker (Fiction) Note: The author alone made it a "must read" and the illustration of purple glitter-painted lips with white teeth on a black background cinched the deal.
7. Frazier, Ian (2010, April 26) RX from The Cursing Mommy The New Yorker (Shouts & Murmurs Column) Note: Can't believe I had forgotten about Ian Frazier and The Cursing Mommy. Guaranteed to make me laugh out loud every single time. I'm saving a big pile of The New Yorker cartoons for the grandkids (and everybody else, too) to have fun with on our traditional Christmas Eve "in a past life we must have been Italian" dinner party; I'm saving The Cursing Mommy columns for their mom (a serious lawyer and karate blackbelt women's sparring champion) to enjoy.
8. Hessler, Peter (2010, April 19) Go West The New Yorker (Creative Nonfiction) Note: The very best piece I have read so far in my read-before-recycle magazine reading project. I admittedly have a strong penchant for creative nonfiction and am entranced when I hear a strong voice for "place." Hessler's story of returning to live in the United States after many years of living in China is luminous; it sings to me. My favorite paragraph? It's this:
"And a Chinese person with options would never choose to live in a place like southwestern Colorado. The American appetite for loneliness impressed me, and there was something about this solitude that freed conversation. One night at a bar, I met a man, and within five minutes he explained that he had just been released from prison. Another drinker told me that his wife had passed away, and he had recently suffered a heart attack, and now he hoped that he would die within the year. I learned that there's no reliable small talk in America; at any moment a conversation can become personal."
Peter Hessler has written three books and I plan to read them all. They are Country Driving: A Journey Through China from Farm to Factory (2/10), Oracle Bones: A Journey Through Time in China (5/07), and River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze.