The April GQ is a special issue on "The Future of Sports." Gracing its cover is Detroit Pistons forward Grant Hill, whose unrelentingly good press raises the question whether he's actually Eddie Haskell with a jump shot: "May I pass you the ball, Mrs. Cleaver?"
Profiling Rupert Murdoch's increasingly successful efforts to make professional sports another annex of his empire, Charles P. Pierce offers a winningly bilious antidote to the good-conduct-medal gush about Mr. Hill.
As a former laborer in one of the darker of the great man's 'D satanic mills (Mr. Pierce was a columnist for the Boston Herald when that publication was among the lesser trophies on Mr. Murdoch's mantel), the writer might be expected to bear a certain animus against his subject. Yet he can't help but be impressed by Mr. Murdoch's daring and imagination.
As a result, there's a rare kind of intellectual torque on display here. That, and Mr. Pierce, with his purring rat-a-tat-tat of a style, writes like a mellifluous machine gun.
Now it just so happens Mr. Murdoch and Mr. Hill place first and second on GQ's list of the 50 most important people for the future of sports.
New Yorker shocker
Tracy Kidder makes his New Yorker (April 17) debut with an account of the rather peculiar experience an Army Special Forces team underwent in the Haitian boondocks.
Of course, the truly peculiar thing about this issue is the cover. Trying to raise the how-can-we-shock-you-this-week ante, illustrator Art Spiegelman manages to pull off a quadruple play: a rabbit wearing a suit lies with his arms spread (as if crucified) on an income tax form. He calls this "Theology of the Tax Cut."
Great: You get politics, the IRS, the Easter bunny and the most solemn event on the Christian calendar all in one smirky swoop. Isn't that, like, so cool?
It makes sense that the defining characteristics of Poz (April/May), the magazine for people who are HIV-positive, are clinicality and insouciance. Carry enough ads for pharmaceuticals and early cash-ins on life insurance, and you better be insouciant -- either that, or a medical journal.
The cover story, a Q-and-A between New Republic editor Andrew Sullivan and AIDS activist Larry Kramer, nicely illustrates Poz's nothing-to-lose exuberance. What's specifically exhilarating is the sense one gets of two individuals becoming absorbed in conversation.
Mr. Sullivan is supposed to be the interlocutor, but Mr. Kramer asks nearly as many questions. As it turns out, there's a lot for each to ask about. Both men are gay, but beyond that it's hard to imagine two people with less in common.
Where Mr. Sullivan is English, Catholic, conservative and addicted to nuance, Mr. Kramer is Jewish, radical, 30 years older and as single-minded as a bayonet. Yet, as they discuss politics, death and (for lack of a better term) the meaning of life, the differences cease to matter.
There is a method to their maddeningness, for in their discourse Mr. Sullivan and Mr. Kramer bear out T. S. Eliot's dictum about critical thinking: "The only method is to be very intelligent."
It's a dilemma travelers will sometimes face. There's something they want to see in a distant country. Then a reason arises for going to that country -- only the specific destination is nowhere near what the traveler had wanted to see.
In the New York Review of Books (April 20), Garry Wills offers a particularly notable response to the problem.
Mr. Wills and his wife longed to see the restoration of Michelangelo's "Last Judgment." Unfortunately, the Sistine Chapel is not in Venice, which is where the couple were going. So, yes, they would make the journey to Rome, they decided, and to justify that they chose a striking way to go: to travel "the peninsula looking at the major Last Judgments that had preceded Michelangelo's -- all those wall-filling visions of The End."
Mr. Wills describes what he and his wife saw: nine wall-filling works in all, and Michelangelo's "was all the more impressive for this buildup, though it is theologically grimmer than anything we saw in the weeks before we arrived at the Vatican."
Also in this issue, Robert M. Adams spends a long time making short work of Ann Douglas' book "Terrible Honesty."
In the course of doing so, he comes up with this honey of a put-down:
"Sentences often flow on far beyond the power of rare verbs to sustain them."