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Friday, February 11, 2005

My love affair with magazines

I have a problem, a real sickness. I’m addicted to magazines. Can’t seem to stop saying, “yes,” to subscription notices. Until yet another weekly news or literary magazine arrives and my husband (and mailman) proclaim, “Enough!”

It’s ridiculous really because I have so little time to read them cover-to-cover. And so, painful as it was, I wrote, “cancel” across by subscription notice to “The Economist.” I want so badly to read it weekly, but just can’t find the time.

My copies of The New Yorker are neatly stacked next to my favorite reading chair. I feel guilty when I can’t get to them right away. But a friend of mine once said that The New Yorker isn’t offended if you get to it late. That’s good advice. Plus I’ve learned to be a more discriminating reader. There are certain writers whom I read regularly (for example, Caitlin Flanagan, Sy Hersch, Kate Boo and Malcolm Gladwell), but sometimes those marvelous fiction pieces are just screaming, “Read me!” And so the stack, which includes the winter Fiction Issue, grows ever taller.

Since I’m a fan of the back story, I enjoyed Jon Friedman’s interview with New Yorker editor, David Remnick, on MarketWatch today. I knew he was a young editor, but if he’s 45 now, that means he was named editor of one of the country’s leading magazines when he was 38! That’s enough to make one feel less than.

Friedman writes of Remnick’s noble vision—to explain our world, his commitment to truth in journalism and his loyalty to his writers: “Remnick's curiosity to understand how the world works hasn't dimmed a bit. It's as if he is able to use the pages of his magazine to give himself and his readers an idea about how we live and explain why we should care about Washington, popular culture, the media, fiction and criticism.”

"’This is a happy place,’ says Ken Auletta, the New Yorker's star media writer. ‘The people like and respect him.’

"’An editor has to hold the hands of often-neurotic, very needy people,’ Auletta says, referring to writers…. ‘David has a good bedside manner, and he'll read your piece four or five times before it goes into the magazine.’”

Remnick’s attention to the words and the writers of them is what makes The New Yorker part of my must-haves of magazines. And that’s why I’m wrapping up my week with this post and heading downstairs for a glass of cabernet, last week’s issue and my favorite chair.

I’ve been somewhat slower in warming to The Atlantic, though again, I’m finding certain sections and writers I enjoy more than others. The book reviews are always interesting, though rather loquacious. As a reviewer (guess I can call myself that now), I’ve often wondered what it would be like to write a 1,200-word review instead of a 300-word review. How would I go about thinking and preparing differently with that kind of space? Hmmm, would be an interesting exercise and perhaps one worth taking someday.

Writers, by their very nature, often retract at the notion of being pigeonholed into any one genre. However, if I were forced to choose one type of writing to pursue for the rest of my days it would be personality profiles. There’s so much to learn about life and living from poring into other people’s lives. And so I’m looking forward this evening to reading Paul Starobin’s profile of Vladimir Putin, “The Accidental Autocrat” in The Atlantic.

But back to my sickness. In the interest of appeasing my husband and mailman, I’ve made a conscious effort to pare down my subscriptions somewhat, (though the ability to write them off as business expenses is always a handy excuse for keeping them). "Time, Wendy," says Danny. "When do you have time to read all of these?"

Point well taken. Since I’ve not been doing as much business writing, I thought having subscriptions to four business magazines was excessive. First to go was The Economist, as previously mentioned.

Although I enjoy the sassy tone of Business 2.0, I’m also doing even less tech writing these days, so that one had to go. I like Fortune Small Business, but haven’t read it in at least six months so I let that sub lapse as well. And just when I was about to cancel my Inc. subscription, they went and pulled together an amazing March issue that I just read end to end.

It was filled with interesting (and concise!) articles related to some things I’m working on now so I guess that one is a keeper. Besides, I’ve been reading Inc. for four years and do feel somewhat loyal. (Jeez! I just realized I’m a marketing stereotype. Brand loyal white woman aged 37.)

And so I close this week wishing you all a pleasant weekend, happy reading and soulful writing…

“If you don't have the time to read, you don't have the time or the tools to write.” – Stephen King “On Writing”

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