These brief columns at the New Yorker (under “Talk of the Town”) can be easily dismissed as think pieces or biographies in its infancy, never fully realized. I myself usually skip them. But some of them shine - like this bit by Nick Paumgarten. Without the brevity (part of the column’s requirement?) this would be sappy and overwrought, but with much grafting and omission it stands out the way stories from friends shine when shared within constrained environments (quick meeting over drinks, chance meet-ups).