The first line of Jonah Lehrer’s Wikipedia page says nothing of his best-selling books, his Rhodes scholarship, his myriad contributions to Wired and The New Yorker or the fact that he has spent most of his adult years as a pop science wunderkind. What it mentions, first and foremost, is Lehrer’s plagiarism scandal, which precipitated his fall from grace four years ago this summer. Lehrer himself acknowledges this fact early on in the author’s note to his latest book, A Book About Love: “I broke the most basic rules of my profession. I am ashamed of what I’ve done. I will regret it for the rest of my life.”
In the new book Lit Up: One Reporter. Three Schools. Twenty-Four Books That Can Change Lives, David Denby, a film critic for The New Yorker, goes back to high school. To be exact, he joins English 10G at the Beacon School in Manhattan, taught by a Louisiana Irishman, Sean Leon. Denby’s reasons for being there are varied and at times vague, but they center on whether a love of literature can be taught—and what that looks like in today’s high schools.
Inside the September 25, 1965, issue of The New Yorker was the literary event of the decade: the first of four installments of Truman Capote’s pioneering true crime account, In Cold Blood. Its subject, the brutal murders of the Clutter family in Holcomb, Kansas, had taken place nearly six years earlier, but Capote had to wait until the two convicted killers were executed to give his “nonfiction novel” an ending.
Shirley Jackson’s chilling short story “The Lottery” debuted in the June 26, 1948, issue of The New Yorker. By July, Jackson had been forced to upgrade her mailbox to the largest one available in the Bennington, Vermont, post office—and she and the postmaster were no longer on speaking terms. Jackson had once daydreamed about uplifting readers with her stories; far from being uplifted, the readers of “The Lottery” were mailing Jackson letters she claimed to be “downright scared to open.”