Patricia Pearson lands a piece in the New Yorker, with help from CWG

Getting a humour piece into the New Yorker is no easy feat, and it takes a special kind of writer to meet the magazine’s sky-high standards. Patricia Pearson, who is represented by the Canadian Writers Group, is one of those writers. Her piece “History: The Customer Reviews” made it into the October 17 issue of the New Yorker, after CWG submitted it on her behalf to the Shouts & Murmurs section.

Shortly before sending an offer, the editor who received the piece replied with “This is very funny,” and for good reason. It really is. The piece, which is available in full on the magazine’s website, consists of short reviews of notable events and landmarks throughout human history: paintings in the Chauvet Caves, Khufu’s pyramid at Giza, construction of the Great Wall of China, fashion at the court of Versailles, and so on. Of her experience on a medieval pilgrimage, one imagined customer writes:

My spiritual adviser told me to take two years out of my projected twenty-seven-year life span to go on this excursion, and I’m glad I did. Off the beaten track, maybe, but definitely worth it for being permanently cleansed of the sin of envy. Previous posters to this site made me aware of the need to wear iron underpants with locked hinges, and also gave me great tips about how to ward off scurvy by gnawing on orange rinds snatched out of the paws of squirrels…

Pearson’s work has appeared in Toronto Life, the Globe and Mail, the New York Times, the the Guardian (U.K.), and on CBC Television, the History Channel, and TVO. She is the author of Brief History of Anxiety…Yours and Mine, When She was Bad: How and Why Women get away with Murder, and Area Woman Blows Gasket, among other titles, and she’s been a finalist for the Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour, winner of the North American Travel Journalists Association award and Arthur Ellis Award for True Crime, as well as a three-time winner at the National Magazine Awards.

Perhaps it was only a matter of time before Pearson’s work landed in the New Yorker. When the magazine’s Bruce McCall read her comic essay collection Area Woman Blows Gasket he called it a “funny, funny book,” and When She Was Bad received a favourable review in the New Yorker. She also has family ties to the magazine that go way back. Pearson’s grandmother, Alice Sawtelle, was one of the New Yorker’s first illustrators, when she was living in New York in the ’20s.

Posted on October 20, 2011 at 11:05 am by editor · · Tagged with: , , , ,

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