* Prices may differ from that shown
What can you say about the New Yorker that hasn't already been said by thousands of others?
It is one of the few magazines I have come across that appeals to both men and women, young and not so young. It's that rare breed of a magazine which has an excellent mix of articles.
The 'What's On' pages are - obviously - not that useful if you aren't in New York, but don't let that put you off. The cinema and play reviews are wittily written, the fiction is always interesting, the shorter opinion pieces give you a different perspective.
However, it is in the sphere of long form articles where the magazine comes into its own; the incredibly talented writers on the magazine can make any subject absorbingly interesting, from how ice is made and profiles of Perez Hilton, through to the state of palliative care and profiles of those who died in the 9/11 attacks. I rarely read any other magazine now.
Subscribe - you won't be disappointed.
The New Yorker
The New Yorker was founded in the 1920s by Harold Ross and became something of an American institution during the twentieth century. William Shawn followed Ross as editor. The magazine is probably the most respected in the world for its journalism and short fiction. It is especially well known for critical reviews and profiles, cartoons, poetry, politics and social commentary, but its writers are more or less free to write about what they want to. The editorial standards are notoriously high.
The current editor is David Remnick, a writer who was once one of America's pre-eminent news reporters and who has published books on topics as diverse as the fall of the Soviet Union and the heavyweight-boxing scene in the 1960s. He is widely credited with restoring the magazine's fortunes after a creative lull in the 1990s during which the staff underwent something of an upheaval under the stewardship of Tina Brown, although her changes are now generally seen as having been necessary. The publishing industry is somewhat perplexed by how it achieves circulation of over a million copies, but the magazine remains independently owned and profitable, and resolutely refuses to dumb itself down. Its keystone is the high quality of its content and pretty much no other magazine can match the overall standard of its average essay.
A full archive of the magazine dating back to its inception has been made available on reasonably priced DVD or memory card, and will presumably eventually be placed online. The magazine's roster of contributors is pretty much a who's who of twentieth century American literature, and the archive includes stories by figures such as Vladimir Nabakov, Alice Munro, Philip Roth, Truman Capote, J D Salinger, Richard Yates, Haruki Murakami... actually the list is as long as you want to make it and continues to grow with each issue. For a long time John Updike provided a vast body of literary criticism although these days the British critic James Wood is being groomed to take over. Before them, Dorothy Parker long submitted caustic book reviews. Another notable critic for a great many years was the late Pauline Kael, who exerted a deep influence on generations of film criticism. Stretching back further, this was also the magazine of the great E. B. White. Humorous pieces have been published by writers such as Steve Martin and Woody Allen. Nick Hornby used to be a music critic. This year, younger writers such as Michael Chabon have contributed essays. In the last year the magazine has featured poetry from Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell.
Many ideas originally expanded from New Yorker pieces tend to go on to do rather well as non-fiction books in their own right, and staff members Malcolm Gladwell and Alex Ross have had particular recent success in this regard, and before them John McPhee, and Philip Gourevitch, who left to become editor of the Paris Review. Susan Orleans' The Orchid Thief became the basis for the Charlie Kaufman movie Adaptation. Several books have emerged from the magazine's coverage of 9/11 and the Iraq War, from writers such as Lawrence Wright, Steve Coll, Jon Lee Anderson, George Packer and Seymour Hersh. The magazine's political coverage is headed by Hendrik Hertzberg.
The magazine is not always easy to find in all newsagents in this country, although large outlets will of course stock it. Fortunately for those without a subscription most of the content is to be found for free at newyorker.com. Unsurprisingly, the website tends to win awards for the quality of its textual content.