"If I’m in someone’s presence and attempting to conduct an interview, I am wishing I were with Kafka on the ceiling. I’d much rather watch people do what they do than talk to them across a desk. I’ve spent hundreds of hours in the passenger seats of their pickups, often far from pavement, bouncing from scribble to scribble. Under a backpack, and hiking behind the environmentalist David Brower, I walked across the North Cascades, up and down the switchbacks, writing in a notebook. Even across a desk, an interviewee will sometimes talk so fast it’s impossible to keep up—like Alan Hume, M.D., a surgeon in Waterville, Maine. Nothing was unforthcoming about Dr. Hume. He talked clearly, rapidly, volubly, and technically. Writing notes, I did my best to stay with him, but when he breezed into the biochemistry of the blood gases I was totally lost and turned him over to a Japanese machine."
I am dying to read the rest of this John McPhee piece, because he’s the best damn writer I’ve ever read. It’s paywalled, so I thought, “All right, I’ll just grab a print copy of the magazine.” Easy, right?
Try looking up bookstores on Long Island. The closest one to me that hasn’t recently closed is 40 minutes away. I rifled through the National Enquirers and “ladies magazines” at the drug stores and grocery stores near me, only to find that they don’t carry most magazines of substance, including The New Yorker. So, because I live in the cultural sinkhole that is Long Island, I’d have to drive to the airport if I want to get my hands on a copy.
How has it come to this? If I want to read a few thousand words by one of my favorite human beings, I have to subscribe to a year of receiving a magazine, letting it sit on my coffee table for two months, and then recycling it. I guess I could read the thing, but most of it is available online. Just let me pay for this one article, please newyorker. Please.