May 5, 2002
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May Afternoon

Istvan Banyai's cover painting, Spring Is In The Air, (New Yorker, May 6) is wonderfully observed. The lovers are just lovers, but the bystander with a cell phone is perfect, and perfectly of the moment. He wouldn't be there in LA, his expression would be different in Paris or Bangkok, and he wouldn't have the cell phone in '92.

Also in May 6th's New Yorker, Andrea Lee's story, "The Prior's Room", looks back with pleasure but without nostalgia. A high school kid, a summer day in Switzerland, a hotel room whose walls are covered with painted saint, and "how she once had a body so perfect that they leaned out of the walls to look at it." New Yorker fiction, the way it ought to be.