The Square Circuit

Academia, parenthood, living in a bankrupt city, and what I read in the process.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

new lit mags

Sunday's NY Times Magazine ran, in addition to an extremely well-thought-out, well-argued article about the state of the 'war on terror', a profile of the editors of two current literary magazines, THE BELIEVER and n+1. I'm familiar with THE BELIEVER (I link to it over on the left) and like it very much. Although it's a product of the Dave Eggers/MCSWEENEY'S crowd, it's managed to avoid the fascination with forced whimsy and childlike/childishness that has characterized the magazine. (The MCSWEENEY'S web site is updated daily; it's often really funny but like The Onion the jokes are limited and can get repetitive.) THE BELIEVER takes recent books seriously but saves its long pieces for untimely topics, long (4000 words or more) explorations of a topic, often only partly literary, that the author finds interesting. Nick Hornby writes a column that's moderately entertaining, much like his books since HIGH FIDELITY. I think, though, my favorite parts of the magazine are the design and the illustrations.

n+1, on the other hand, I've never seen. Only three issues exist, making me wonder why and how they're already getting NY TIMES coverage, but that's the way the NYC media tends to work. n+1 appears to be an intellectual journal rather than a strictly literary magazine. The editors allude to all the right journals and precursors—PARTISAN REVIEW, Dwight Macdonald, DISSENT, Philip Rahv, POLITICS, etc.—but also seem to have a sense of humor and appreciation for pop culture that Macdonald, Kristol, Rahv/Philips, etc., lacked.


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