Tuesday, September 25, 2007

My name is Peter, and I'm an Aesthete

The "Village Voice" just wrote a really good profile on Peter Schjeldahl. I can still remember the first time I read his work. It was shortly after my mother had given me a subscription to the "New Yorker" for Christmas.

Since I like to leaf through magazines backwards, I ran into his piece first, and was immediately absorbed. Thereafter I would look forward to his pieces with excitement. And though anyone who has ever subscribed the "New Yorker" knows that the magazines inevitably pile up in a "to-read" pile that never sees a real dent (until one summons the force of character to be honest enough to say to oneself, "You are never going to read all of those; get rid of at least half")...I still hoard the magazine and devour his work first.

It's worth noting that my reading of the magazine didn't start at adulthood. When I was little, I used to look through the “New Yorker” for the cartoons. I didn’t understand all of them, but I loved the fact that so many ideas could be expressed through the right combination of pen strokes and verbs. In fact, some of my best memories of growing up are of leafing through a compendium of “New Yorker” cartoons, with my brother, on the daybed in my grandfather’s house.

The never-quite-comfortable itch of the red and black L.L. Bean Hudson’s Bay Point wool blanket that grandfather covered the daybed with, the sun going down across the lake, and the grown-ups talking about interminably boring things like taxes, bills, and health, heightened the sense that my brother and I were doing something that was somehow subversive (not to mention incredibly entertaining).

In the cartoon compendium, there was a marriage of wit, style and occasionally, a bit of grown-up naughtiness that I understood. And it wasn’t until I began reading Schjeldahl that I experienced that feeling on being “on the inside” of the “New Yorker” again.

So it was with real pleasure that I read the “Voice’s” piece. My only complaint? That it wasn’t longer.


steph said...

that is totally what happened with my NYer pile.....sigh.

madeleine53 said...

right....I used to look at it like it was homework....