The July 23 issue of the New Yorker caught my eye when it arrived in my mailbox yesterday, and not just because it was almost a week late. The cover featured a fanciful watercolor sketch showing polar bears and penguins splashing in the spray of a roadside fire hydrant. Fanciful is right: polar bears and penguins live at opposite poles of the earth.
The misconception that these two creatures live on the same icy plains is a common one, and it’s a favorite joke around the Oceana office. I’ll skip writing an angry letter to New Yorker editor David Remnick, however. I’m pretty sure we’re not meant to take the image of wild animals playing on a Manhattan street too literally.
Inside the issue is another notable item: a book review of Eric Jay Dolin’s “Leviathan: The History of Whaling in America.” In usual New Yorker style, reviewer Caleb Crain places Dolin’s story in the context of a piece of literature, this time Melville’s “Moby-Dick,” and writes less a review than an impassive but fascinating collection of facts surrounding the whaling industry’s quirky and controversial practices.