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Literary magazine throwdown
January 8, 2013 8:41 PM   Subscribe

n+1 picks a fight with:
the Atlantic: Every time a plane flies over New York, we think, “Oh my God — is it another Atlantic think piece?” We mean, “an Atlantic think piece about women.” The two have become synonymous, and they descend upon their target audience with the regularity and severe abdominal cramping of Seasonale. “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All,” “The End of Men,” “Marry Him!” These are articles intended to terrorize unmarried women, otherwise known as educated straight women in their twenties and thirties, otherwise known as a valuable market, if not for reliable lovers then at least for advertisers. Their purpose is to revive one formerly robust man of the house, who for years has been languishing on his deathbed: the cigar-smoking, suspender-snapping, mansplaining American general interest magazine.
Harper's: Women are the internet, and the internet is women. How else to explain male writers’ terror about taking it with them to the office? Women writers may admit they have a hard time working while online, but for men this appears to be a much more profound issue, and in some cases a hardware problem.... Men tear the ethernet cord out of the socket, they hot-glue the socket, they use computers so old they say they were made without a socket. They claim they must avoid the internet so as not to masturbate all over their computers.... But their stories of covering up and gluing shut suggest that for men the internet is in fact the site of a perverse fear of penetration. They have withdrawn into a cult of the unplugged. The magazine for these men is not the Atlantic, which treats the internet like a woman and placates it, but Harper’s, which treats the internet like a woman and ignores it.
the New Yorker (sort-of): So what’s an old magazine to do? Should it be like the New Yorker and just . . . it’s hard to say what exactly the New Yorker does on the internet.
But they have only love (sort-of) for the Paris Review:
Anyway, we were very upset, and to add insult to injury our dog lost the Halloween contest to two little gerbils reading tiny dictionaries, but then we realized we could just take a Xanax and read the Paris Review.
And if that's not enough to click on the link, there's this:
This complete mischaracterization of the nature of daily existence is the basis for MacArthur’s belief that eventually print will triumph over the internet. “In the long run, I think I’ll be vindicated, since clearly the [online] advertising ‘model’ has failed and readers are going to have to pay . . . if they want to see anything more complex than a blog, a classified ad, or a sex act.” (“Sex act!” We can’t help it, the phrase makes us fantasize: MacArthur is prone on a chaise lounge, and he’s not alone. There’s another person in the room, and it’s his analyst, who’s having a field day with that phrase, “sex act.”) So that’s where the women are: having sex on the internet.
posted by eviemath (23 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
Well, that was some delicious skewering, right there.
posted by emjaybee at 9:08 PM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I subscribed to n+1 for one year when I was in college and had vague aspirations towards being an "interesting person" moving among "interesting people" in New York City. One of the benefits (I use this word cautiously, and you will soon see why) of being a subscriber was receiving notifications about "interesting events" (usually at the New School) put on by the n+1 editors. One such event was entitled, "Why hasn't anyone made any interesting movies about the Iraq war yet?" A head-scratcher, but I decided to attend because Anthony Swofford was on the panel, and I had enjoyed Jarhead.

Call me naive, but I honestly thought there would be something more on show besides various riffs on the question: "Why hasn't anyone made any good Iraq war movies?" and its correlate statement: "There aren't any good movies about the Iraq war."

There wasn't. The only thing that made my MTA ride worthwhile was the look on Swofford's face. I imagined him spending a great deal of time writing a book in the tradition of The Things They Carried, filled with expectations about his literary debut and the reception of his work by the culturati. His face had contorted into a complex expression of loathing, bemusement, confusion and resignation.

Needless to say, Keith Gessen presided over that panel, and if I recall correctly he had been recently embroiled in that all-too-New York controversy about whether or not he was sexist when he was having self-hating sex with some Gawker writer or another. I blame the panel on him, and I dimly recall writing some kind of dilatory Just the other day I noticed he wrote something for the New Yorker about traversing the Northwest passage on a Ukrainian (I think?) tanker.

Reader: it was more interesting than the panel was.
posted by anewnadir at 9:10 PM on January 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


I'm an n+1 fan and a subscriber, but they'll take Harper's and the New Yorker out of my cold dead hands. The Atlantic I don't even know from anymore.
posted by jokeefe at 9:40 PM on January 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


To the extent that commercial newspapers and magazines are advertising catalogs — with writing wrapped around them — they are vastly more effective in purveying commercial messages because with paper, you can’t help bumping into the ads on the way to reading the articles in between. . . . At some point you’ve got to turn off your computer or your iPad, but the mail and the brochures and printed matter just keep coming.
This really resonates with me. I mean, I have never bumped into an ad on the internet.
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 9:52 PM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Then there's Atlantic Cities, which is basically just linkbait for baby technocrats and people who own a coffee table book with buildings.

Could this light-up bench end homelessness in San Francisco?

Sprawl: bad or not so bad?

Italian performance artist explodes glitter "bomb" in train station; is urban bombing the new pop-up cafe?

The crazy new iPhone app that lets you contact other people in the city you live in

48 cool pictures of refineries we found on flickr

Some people put a gnome in their yard: a look at gnome urbanism and how it will change the way we encounter the street

Everything you thought you knew about cities is wrong...but not in the way you suspect, somehow

I read one chapter of Jane Jacobs

One weird old trick to leverage public-private partnerships

The bus stop advertisement that will fondle you...for a price

Richard Florida: creative class something something I give up

A picture of my driveway

posted by threeants at 10:12 PM on January 8, 2013 [37 favorites]


Thank fucking god. Every time I hear someone refer to "The End of Men" as some kind of cultural touchstone, I want to throw up everything inside me and then turn myself inside-out.
posted by Afroblanco at 10:13 PM on January 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


More like n + ass AMIRITE???
posted by bardic at 10:35 PM on January 8, 2013


Seems like they're having fun.
posted by notyou at 10:36 PM on January 8, 2013


Really? Seems like they're trying so hard to be cool that they're not having any fun.
posted by msalt at 11:26 PM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Coolness here is measured in degrees and within context. The Atlantic is, by comparison, having a huge public mid life crisis with whatever the sweater vest and boat shoe version of bleached tips and buying a car with flame decals on it is.
posted by The Whelk at 12:58 AM on January 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


Not enough hate for McArdle. (Though in spellchecking her name, I find she left the mag officially this summer.)
posted by klangklangston at 1:42 AM on January 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hey! The Atlantic used to be really great. Seriously, read this essay.
posted by chavenet at 2:20 AM on January 9, 2013


Bits of The Atlantic are still wonderful. I just read those.
posted by sensate at 5:05 AM on January 9, 2013


The Atlantic Magazine would draw me in with enough articles and essays to make me think that this time they're over it, they're getting back to work on doing good things -- and then I smack face-first into another pile of conservative-doctrine bumf, usually immediately after slipping in a puddle of David Brooks' drool on having discovered yet another thing immediately outside the DC-Virginia suburbs that he can extrapolate into a portrait of Mainstream America, and it makes me hate The Atlantic again for tricking me.

At least I can read a single article on The Atlantic's website that's not bad, and enjoy it, and then there's the rest of the Internet to pay attention to; while having spent five or six bucks on an issue of the magazine for a single article, there's nothing else to do with it but see what the other articles are like, since I do not keep caged birds.
posted by ardgedee at 5:17 AM on January 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


> The Atlantic is, by comparison, having a huge public mid life crisis with whatever the sweater vest and boat shoe version of bleached tips and buying a car with flame decals on it is.

I believe that would be taking a late interest in pipe smoking and buying a new yacht. In your mind you've accomplished this, but instead they find you days later, more like this, except replace Errol Flynn's face with that of a balding, baby-faced man dehydrated and red with sunburn.
posted by gilrain at 5:52 AM on January 9, 2013


whatever the sweater vest and boat shoe version of bleached tips and buying a car with flame decals on it is.

A sweater vest with flame decals on it! Advertise it in The Atlantic! Make millions! Feel gross inside!
posted by NoraReed at 6:32 AM on January 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's been 20+ years since the Atlantic was any good, right? Even the puzzle is gone now.

New Yorker is far too much for me to keep up with (I read books), but Harper's is perfect. I like its Web site fine.

for all practical purposes appears exclusively in print

The magazines are available online for subscribers. "all practical purposes"? It's no different than the Wall St. Journal.
posted by mrgrimm at 7:53 AM on January 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Atlantic's entire m.o is just selling the aging middle class thier fear back to them. Nearly every article is just a slightly better worded WILL WHOLE WHEAT TURN YOUR PETS INTO PEDPHILES AND CHANGE AMERICA FOR EVER? Tabloid link bait nonsense.
posted by The Whelk at 8:16 AM on January 9, 2013


NoraReed: "A sweater vest with flame decals on it! Advertise it in The Atlantic! Make millions! Feel gross inside!"

A humidor in the shape of a duck hunting decoy.
posted by boo_radley at 8:17 AM on January 9, 2013


The Atlantic's entire m.o is just selling the aging middle class thier fear back to them.

A Million First Dates: How Online Romance is Threatening Monogamy

The better pullquote.

"I often wonder whether matching you up with great people is getting so efficient, and the process so enjoyable, that marriage will become obsolete."
posted by mrgrimm at 8:51 AM on January 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


New Yorker is far too much for me to keep up with (I read books)

Hah! Glad I'm not the only one who's had to deal with this dilemma. I subscribed to the New Yorker for a year, and would feel so guilty over not having thoroughly read each issue that I stopped reading novels in order to keep up. However, I started getting serious fiction withdrawal, so I finally cancelled my New Yorker subscription. Ultimately, I realized that I rely on the internet for the bulk of my non-fiction reading, and Metafilter does a good job of linking to things I should read -- including New Yorker articles.
posted by Afroblanco at 11:13 AM on January 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


From this anecdote, MacArthur drew the following conclusion:
At some point you’ve got to turn off your computer or your iPad, but the mail and the brochures and printed matter just keep coming
.

Until they don't, harumph. I was an intern at Harper's, an unpaid position, and was promised a lifetime subscription to the magazine. After a few years they canceled my subscription, to save money. I'm still annoyed by that.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:16 PM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


I want to see a Three Way cage match with n + 1, McSweeney's, and The Baffler. Winner gets unrestricted rights to snark at anyone and anything, except itself.
posted by stannate at 6:51 PM on January 10, 2013


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