Today, I arrived home and found waiting for me a package from Amazon, something I'd ordered back in June when it was first announced for which I had been eagerly awaiting: The Complete New Yorker.
And they're being quite literal: it's an 8-disc set (computer DVDs) that contains every issue -- 80 years since 1925 -- of The New Yorker magazine, scanned in and indexed. The index and reading app alone takes up 600+ megabytes, and is very well designed, making reading easy.
So much of American journalistic and literary history is wrapped up in these pages it's astonishing: it's hard to name some literary or journalistic heavy hitter of the last 75 years who isn't represented in these pages. Truman Capote's In Cold Blood was first published here. John Hershey's Hiroshima was first published here, taking up the entire issue. Seymour Hersh's revelations about Abu Ghraib were first published here. Short stories by the likes of John Updike, James Thurber, Woody Allen, and J. D. Salinger (some never reprinted -- libraries that hold back issues containing uncollected Salinger stories protect them from zealous collectors).
I love the New Yorker. I subscribe (and sometimes get my issues faster than people in California, god knows why) and read it every week. This set helps explain why: lots of authors I've enjoyed -- inside and outside of the pages of the New Yorker -- have work here: Calvin Trillin, John McPhee, Susan Orlean, Garrison Keillor, Atul Gawande, Malcolm Gladwell, Adam Gopnik, and so on and so on: my chance to catch up with their stuff that I've missed (Calvin Trillin's old "U.S. Journal" articles, the ones that haven't been reprinted in book form, for instance) or dip into famous authors I haven't read yet (Robert Benchley, Rachel Carson, Brendan Gill, Joseph Mitchell (okay, I did read Joe Gould's Secret), Janet Malcolm, Philip Roth, John O'Hara, Susan Sontag, Alexander Wolcott, Dorothy Parker, and, of course, E. B. White (he did more than write Charlotte's Web, you know).
Lord, this is will keep me busy for a long time.