Bruce Gillespie

A blog by freelance writer and editor Bruce Gillespie.

Archive for the ‘Reading’ Category

Shoe violations and The New Yorker

Every year at about this time, I start debating whether I should let my subscription to The New Yorker lapse. Certainly, it is a fine magazine, and the Canadian subscription price of a little more than $100 for 47 issues is a steal compared to the newsstand price of $5.99 an issue.

And yet, I often find (as I’m sure most subscribers do) that the issues tend to pile up before I’ve had a chance to go through them, and before long, my house is littered with piles of New Yorkers. I like to think I make an effort to read all of them before they head to the recycling box, but often I just end up scooping them up and dumping them in the bin to get rid of the mess and hope I haven’t missed anything really great.

Inevitably, I wind up extending my subscription and promising myself that I’ll do a better job of trying to read each issue–or, at least the cartoons–before I recycle them. And I’m glad I do: not only are they nice to have around when I feel like something quick to read or when I’m in between books, but I shudder to think of all the great writing I’d miss if I didn’t keep up with them.

For instance: in the latest issue delivered to my door (March 23), there’s a great piece by Nancy Franklin,one of my favourite critics who usually writes about television. This time, however, she’s written a Talk of the Town piece about attending the Madoff trial, which is every bit as sharp as her reviews and full of great details, like this:

The proceeding was scheduled for 10 A.M., and anyone could attend. It was in many ways a normal day, albeit with a little more electricity in the air and more guards in the lobby. They were on high alert, but were also chatty; when a woman set off the metal detector, a guard told her to take off her shoes. “Shoe violation,” he said. “Shoe violation?” she said back. The guard then sang the words “shoe violation” to the melody of “She Works Hard for the Money.”

It just doesn’t get much better than that. I know that we’re supposed to love The New Yorker for its long-form writing, but for me, it’s just as often the short pieces filled with great, unexpected details that keep me renewing year after year.


Written by bgillesp

March 19, 2009 at 9:43 am

Posted in Journalism, Reading

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Recommended reading

I often find myself being asked for book recommendations this time of year, as people go about their holiday shopping, and I am always happy to give them. So, in no particular order, here are some of the good books I read in the past year (most of which are new, but some of which are older titles I only got around to reading in the past 12 months):


Run by Ann Patchett (HarperCollins Publishers, 2007)

The Stone Gods by Jeanette Winterson (Random House, 2007)

The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall (HarperCollins Publishers, 2007)

Axis by Robert Charles Wilson (2007, Tor)

The Black Tower by Louis Bayard (HarperCollins Publishers, 2008 )


Drive by Tim Falconer (Viking Canada, 2008 )

Fatal Tide by David Leach (Viking Canada, 2008 )

Leave the Building Quickly by Cynthia Kaplan (HarperCollins Publishers, 2007)

Why I’m Like This by Cynthia Kaplan (HarperCollins Publishers, 2002)

The Long Walk Home by Liane Faulder (Brindle & Glass Publishing, 2007)

Hope in the Dark by Rebecca Solnit (Penguin, 2006)

Time Was Soft There by Jeremy Mercer (Picador, 2005)

On Writing by Stephen King (Pocket Books, 2000)

Riding With Rilke by Ted Bishop (Penguin Canada, 2005)

The Geography of Hope by Chris Turner (Random House Canada, 2007)

Written by bgillesp

November 21, 2008 at 11:42 am

Posted in Reading