I was going through the site analytics, checking out what kind of year The Millions had and I thought it might be fun to share some of the stuff I found out.Looking at the site’s most visited pages, there were some “evergreen” favorites in the top spots:Hard to Pronounce Literary Names Redux: the Definitive Edition: In August 2006, we unwittingly struck a chord with the reading public. We don’t know how to pronounce our favorite writers’ names, but we want to be able to discuss them. We took a first stab at creating a list, but after much debate about proper pronunciation, we hit the library and came back with this definitive version. It remains our most popular post and may stay that way for a long time.A Year in Reading 2007: This post only went up on December 1st, but thanks to dozens of great contributors, it was our best year-end series yet.Hard to Pronounce Literary Names: Our first, abortive attempt at the pronunciation post remains popular.The Most Anticipated Books of 2007: Readers got the year started with a look at the books we were most excited about. 2008’s installment is now posted.Keepers of the Flame: A Reply to n+1: Back in March, we noted N+1’s essay that took on the “litblogs.” It ignited a mini-controversy and The Millions was ground zero.We get a lot of traffic from Google, of course, but quite a few of our visitors arrive from other sites. These were the top 5 sites to send us traffic in 2007:The Elegant VariationConversational ReadingKottke.orgNPR.orgGawkerThose who take the Google route, however, come from these searches:the millionsbook blogsbook blogthe millions bloghow to pronounce namesFinally, I also thought it would be interesting to see which books were most popular on the site last year. We link to all the book titles mentioned on the site, and these were the ones that got the most clicks:The Adventures and Misadventures of Maqroll by Alvaro MutisReporting: Writings from The New Yorker by David RemnickPastoralia by George SaundersThe Cottagers by Marshall N. KlimasewiskiThe Biggest Game in Town by A. Alvarez
My New Yorker is David Remnick’s New Yorker. The magazine was around my house off and on when I was young. My sister and I, ignoring the witty captions, used to use the magazine’s iconic cartoons as a sort of coloring book, spicing up a droll bedroom scene with our 24-color set of magic markers. As a high schooler with half-formed thoughts of a literary life, I began delving into the fiction each week, but it was only a matter of time before the rest of the magazine’s contents began to tempt me, though I remained utterly unaware that I was discovering the magazine at its point of greatest turmoil, the Tina Brown years. By the time I went to college, I was an avid consumer of the magazine, though without the time to give it my full attention. Once I graduated, however, with only the responsibilities of undemanding jobs, I was able to give in and have read the magazine, more or less in its entirety ever since.The Tina Brown era ended and David Remnick took the magazine’s helm around the time I became a New Yorker regular, and he, to a certain extent, epitomizes my New Yorker. Beyond Remnick’s editorial influence, any contemporary reader of the magazine has become familiar with his thorough profiles which tend to alight on a few different topics that he has covered closely over the years. Many of these are collected in his recent volume Reporting, which came out last year and is now available in paperback.The book divides the articles, which are all taken from his years at the New Yorker, into five sections covering, roughly: politics/news, literary figures, Russia, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and boxing. Nearly all of the articles in the collection are the long, in depth profiles that New Yorker readers will be familiar with. In Reporting, Remnick’s subjects include Al Gore, Philip Roth, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (twice), Vladimir Putin, Benjamin Netanyaho, and Mike Tyson.These profiles are impressive in the access they offer – we have dinner with Al and Tipper, visit Roth’s writing retreat, and play chess with Lennox Lewis. Taken together, one also notes that these profiles most prominent quality is their workmanlike thoroughness. Remnick takes us into his subjects’ homes but he also grabs quotes from dozens of peripheral characters in his quest to offer as well-rounded a picture as possible. There’s nothing flashy about Remnick’s writing – he won’t wow you – but then again his writing carries none of the annoying tics that mars some of his colleagues’ work. Here I’m thinking of Adam Gopnick’s tendency to view everything through the eyes of a parent or Anthony Lane’s dandyish fussiness. For anyone who aspires to practice long-form magazine journalism, you could do a lot worse than starting with Remnick as a model.My favorite part of the book was the last section on boxing. Here Remnick was able to drop some of the necessary serious that his other subjects demand and substitute it with some color. Setting the scene for the 2002 Tyson-Lewis fight in Memphis, Remnick writes:On the night of the fight, the skies of above the Pyramid were choked with helicopters. It took a long time to get through the metal detectors and professional friskers, though it seemed that the women of uncertain profession, along with their raffish masculine handlers, were accorded more courtesy than the rest of us. There were certifiable celebrity types all around, mainly film stars like Denzel Washington, Morgan Freeman, and Samuel L. Jackson, and a flotilla of NBA players. There was much relief in finding out that one hadn’t been given a seat behind Dikembe Mutombo or Magic Johnson.In fact, Remnick’s boxing pieces would have made for a nice, slim volume on their own. But Remnick doesn’t seem like the type of reporter who, as he ages, will pursue writing only about his particular interests at the expense of taking on a broader array of topics. In its variety of subjects, Reporting is an ideal slice of Remnick’s work.