New Zealanders know Malcolm Gladwell best from his books, like The Tipping Point and most recently Outliers. But he’s been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1996; What the Dog Saw is a collection of his own favourite New Yorker stories.
And what a treat it is. Gladwell gets a bit of stick for his reliance on anecdote, allusion and selecting examples to suit his argument, but with storytelling like this, who cares? I’m not always convinced by his argument but I am left marvelling at the novelty of his perspective (whether the topic is ketchup or criminology), the characters he finds and the generosity he affords them, and the way his narrative seems to wobble and wander before eventually resolving itself so neatly. It’s impossible to read a Gladwell tale without it sparking ideas of your own, which is a treat in itself. You may not be convinced either, but you’ll surely be entranced.
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