Friends gave us a subscription to the New Yorker magazine for Christmas, which I haven’t read regularly in many years. One of the things I am reminded of when reading the most recent issue is the quality of writing (not to mention the cartoons).

One commentary piece (“Southern Discomfort”), by George Packer, is on the political configuration of the South and how the right-wing of the Republican Party holds sway. It harkens back to an important work by W. J. Cash, The Mind of the South (1941), and provides a perceptive historical as well as contemporary look at the role the South plays in the American landscape.

Another piece by James Wood (“Becoming Them”) reflects on how we become more and more like our parents—often in unexpected ways.

And an in-depth piece by David Owen (“The Psychology of Space”) reflects on the way that a Norwegian architectural firm (Snohetta) has influenced the use of public spaces—from the Oslo Opera House to the area around the Twin Towers to Times Square.

If you haven’t seen this issue, you might take a look.