Weekly magazine known for its literary standards and sophisticated cartoons. Started in 1925 by Harold Ross, who dreamed of an upscale weekly humor magazine for cosmopolitan New Yorkers. His idea caught the attention of Raoul Fleischman, heir to the Fleischman yeast fortune, and he became a significant investor (and was either vice president, president, chairman, and publisher until 1969). With the art direction of Rea Irvin and the literary taste of Katharine S. White, the magazine began to catch on as a sophisticated humor magazine, even through the Depression. Early writers included wits such as Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley, and James Thurber. In 1939, with prodding from William Shawn, the magazine began to cover serious issues, notably the war in Europe, and included serious journalism in its pages. The most famous of these articles was John Hersey's "Hiroshima," which appeared as an entire issue of the magazine on August 31, 1946.

For the first 66 years, it had just three editors (Ross, Shawn, and Robert Gottlieb). In 1985, Advance Publications bought the magazine, which now runs it through its Conde Nast division.


How to Read The New Yorker

Upon first receiving your brand spanking new copy of The New Yorker you must spend a few moments looking at the cover, either appreciating its emotional impact, laughing modestly, or not understanding the obscure reference - at which point you will pretend you do if anyone is watching. Next flip to the back page (not to be confused with the ad on the back of The New Yorker - that's purely bourgeois material), and titter appropriately.

Now it's time to start reading this piece of heaven in earnest. You can read the mail at the front, but it's often boring corrections on various articles or people moralizing, so you may want to skip it, saving it for a rainy day. Skip all the theater junk, you probably don't live in New York anyways, though you may want to check what's playing in the movie theaters because a lot of obscure movies don't get any hype - if you don't have a local theater that plays artsy fartsy stuff you can always rent it when it comes out on VHS/DVD.

Finally, the meat of The New Yorker. This begins with "Talk of the Town", a collection of short soundbites on politics and happenings of interest. The first article will be long and boring and political, skip it. The rest of the articles you may want to skim through, stopping at the interesting stuff; some of it's actually quite clever, and your teenage attention span should be able to take it, unless you had too many hostess snacks for lunch. Soon after this; stuffed in there somewhere after "Talk of the Town" is "Shouts and Murmurs." This is hilarious stuff. Read it.

Now comes a long stretch of boring articles. Do I even have to tell you to skip them? But BEHOLD! The short story! Unless your brain has been battered, breaded, and/or pan fried by high school this is a MUST read. This is where la crème de la crème of today's short fiction writers show their stuff. These are witty; splendiferous; moving; effusive; transcendent. This is what your whole week has been leading up to. Enjoy it, you've earned it.

Later when you've got some free time read the rest of the articles in The New Yorker, though you may never get to the really long and boring ones. Also, pay attention to the ads you may have missed along the way. You may eventually buy some of that stuff.

One last comment: do not flip through The New Yorker if you are only going to look at the comic strips/poetry. You will never be accepted into polite society this way. These pieces are meant to be consumed whole with the sandwich that is The New Yorker; you don't want to be that freak kid at the lunch table who eats all his sandwhich ingredients separately, do you? Well, do you?

You've now read one issue of The New Yorker. Congratulate yourself, you have taken the first step in becoming a member of your local intelligentsia.

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