Every article written in The New Yorker since 2007 is now available online for free, and despite the magazine’s name, that’s great news for voracious Boston readers.
For the rest of the summer, formerly print-only stories since 2007 will be made available to non-subscribers, The New Yorker editors explained in a letter to readers. “Call it a summer-long free-for-all,” they wrote. So let’s put aside the Boston-New York hatred for a moment and enjoy some good writing.
With Boston.com readers in mind, here are the best Boston-focused stories from that publication. From Mitt Romney to the Boston Marathon bombings to Harvard admissions, these stellar long-reads make for some great beach reads this summer.
Summary: South Boston, long the home of Irish-American working class people (and mobsters, too) with a strong pride in their neighborhood, was beginning to gentrify, Orlean found.
“The churn of gentrification in old city neighborhoods is not a novel story, and recently gentrification has arrived, for better or for worse, in neighborhoods no one would ever have expected to revive—Washington’s Capitol Hill, Brooklyn’s Williamsburg. But it is an especially surprising turn in South Boston, a place that had always seemed cut off from the cycle of city life, and whose character was, for a century or so, rooted in a mighty, and sometimes violent, resistance to change.”
Summary: Ivy League schools are constantly changing their definition of “merit” to keep their student demographics in line with what they view as ideal, from keeping out Jews to including more athletes.
Key Quote: “You are whom you admit in the élite-education business, and when Harvard changed whom it admitted, it changed Harvard. Was that change for the better or for the worse?”
Summary: A profile of Mitt Romney on the eve of the 2012 election explored the mix of business focus and Mormonism that defined the former Massachusetts Governor.
Key quote: “Romney is very deeply a product of a series of interconnected, tightly enclosed worlds, with their own rules: Mormonism, business school, management consulting, private equity. Understanding him requires understanding the subcultures that produced him.”
Summary: In the days after the Boston Marathon bombings, famed Japanese novelist and marathon enthusiast Murakami drew comparisons between the struggle of running 26.2 miles to the mental after-effects of the bombing.
“You have made it on your own, but at the same time it was those around you who kept you going. The unpaid volunteers who took the day off to help out, the people lining the road to cheer you on, the runners in front of you, the runners behind. Without their encouragement and support, you might not have finished the race. As you take the final sprint down Boylston, all kinds of emotions rise up in your heart. You grimace with the strain, but you smile as well.”
Summary: A 16,000-word behemoth that is perhaps the defining profile of President Obama, including his candid views on drugs, the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, African-Americans, and the President’s social reserve.
Key quote, from Obama:
“And one of the young men asked me about me growing up, and I explained, You know what? I’m just like you guys. I didn’t have a dad. There were times where I was angry and wasn’t sure why I was angry. I engaged in a bunch of anti-social behavior. I did drugs. I got drunk. Didn’t take school seriously. The only difference between me and you is that I was in a more forgiving environment, and if I made a mistake I wasn’t going to get shot. And, even if I didn’t apply myself in school, I was at a good enough school that just through osmosis I’d have the opportunity to go to college.”