Sunday Reading: Gifts of the Season

This holiday weekend, as we celebrate the season, we’re bringing you a selection of pieces about gifts of many varieties.More from the ArchiveSign up for Classics, a twice-weekly newsletter featuring notable pieces from the past.In “All That,” by the late wizard of prose David Foster Wallace, a man recalls receiving a toy cement mixer for…

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This holiday weekend, as we celebrate the season, we’re bringing you a selection of pieces about gifts of many varieties.

All That,” by the late wizard of prose David Foster Wallace, a man recalls receiving a toy cement mixer for Christmas and ruminates on intimate matters. In “Mr. MOMA,” Calvin Tomkins writes about the nature of charity after an obscure art collector from Vermont makes a fantastically large donation to the museum. In “Borough Haul,” Patricia Marx explores trendy gift shops and artisanal boutiques and jokes, “If Brooklyn were a country, its chief exports would include artisanal pickles, eco-friendly yoga wear, Red Hook-made Saipua soap (responsible for every store smelling like clove geranium), and books written by men named Jonathan.” In “The Gift,” Ian Parker discusses altruism and the fascinating case of a philanthropist who felt compelled to donate one of his kidneys to a complete stranger. Finally, in “Memento Mori,” David Sedaris considers how some gifts linger in your memory, if not your closet. Of buying presents for his husband, he writes, “Hugh thinks that lists are the easy way out, and says that if I really knew him I wouldn’t have to ask what he wanted. It’s not enough to search the shops; I have to search his soul as well.”

David Remnick


An illustration of an orange-and-green toy cement-mixer.

All That

“The toy cement mixer is the origin of the religious feeling that has informed most of my adult life.”

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A person carrying a coffin-shaped gift.

Memento Mori

When gifts come back to haunt you.

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An illustration of tiny shoppers pacing the sidewalks of New York.

Borough Haul

Are you hip enough to shop in Brooklyn?

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Mr. Moma

Mr. Moma

A rare and enormous gift.

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Photograph of a shirtless man holding an X-ray machine in front of his torso

The Gift

Zell Kravinsky gave away millions. But somehow it wasn’t enough.

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