How do you make it "from Novelist to Marxist Public Intellectual"? David Wallace-Wells' profile of Benjamin Kunkel in New York magazine shares several secrets for this epic journey, and reveals several things about this contemporary mode of "Marxist Public Intellectual." Let's read closely, and see what we can learn about achieving that particular moniker.
The last time overeducated lit mag n+1 wrote a big think piece about a blog, they chased all the smart people away from this here website forever. Now, n+1 is back with yet another in their peerless "How to Overthink Things on the Internet That, In Actuality, Have Little if Any Overarching Theme or Philosophy." This one's for the ladiesssssssss!
Molly Fischer has thoughts about several popular internet "ladyblogs." Like what?
The spectacle of a slighted novelist going on a gossip blog and defending themselves in the comments—then starting a nutty Tumblr and throwing a "Take Back the Internet" party—is now referred to as the "Gessen Method" by a Texas publication. They're referring to n+1 editor and first-time novelist Keith Gessen. He has now been branded—much to his chagrin, we're sure—not as the next young literary man but "is an icon—a symbol—a cautionary tale about Internet conflict and the way we deal with it."
The highbrow low-pay publishing community has long suffered from a startling male-female attractiveness imbalance exemplified by the case of that American Apparel modeling Paris Review intern. I mean, if Jessica Roy was ever right about anything, it is that.* But for its work righting the prettiness gap perhaps we owe a debt of "gratitude" to the most important literary journal of our time, N+1, whose founding editors Keith Gessen and Benjamin Kunkel are not only decidedly conventionally attractive but extra reviled on the basis of that fact. And as the Observer noticed today, N+1 is now employing male contributor Wesley Yang (and his wavy hair I will refrain from calling a "mane") in the new capacity of T-shirt pitchman. Yang, you might recall if you are one of N+1's numerous readers, originally ascended to literary microfame in a piece in the last issue about how he related to Virginia Tech school shooter Seung Hui-Cho for feeling fundamentally "unlovable."Look, at some point I actually scanned in the good parts.
Aspiring writer and NYU student Jessica Roy got her blogosphere start by throwing a lit-bomb at a surely insufferable party attended by various media scenesters. You might be thinking, "Who cares?" but the most hilarious part of her essay was not its contents, which were equally mocked and praised. It was the fact that grown men such as n+1 editor/novelist Keith Gessen (and others; you know who you are) actually tried to get New York's Daily Intel blog to stop it from being published. Talking about being trapped in a media goldfish bowl! (You're going to call in your one favor with a New York editor for something that petty? Does anyone have any balls?) Young Jess didn't like the New York scene, and moved to Paris (but not because of the silly party). However, now she doesn't like Paris—France suffers from a "startling lack of tofu."Now, it must be said that we met Roy at a party before she escaped New York, and found her perfectly pleasant. But HuffPosts like this aren't helping your cause, Jess! If New York City is not a "place for serious people," as previously alleged, then Paris is a hellhole where you can't get a decent vegetarian meal:
There's something about organizing social events over the internet that encourages people — everyone, really — to try a little too hard to impress. This is why Evite pages are filled not only with RSVPs but also with in-jokes, double entendres and various other self-conscious displays of wit. And why so many emailed party invitations take three long paragraphs to get to the point! To make sure you never waste another minute being cute like that in a damned internet invite, have a look at this phenomenon in extreme form: Emails in which n+1 staffers, along with other highfalutin types (from the New Yorker, Council On Foreign Relations, Paris Review and so forth), are told "hey let's meet at the bar" in the insanely obtuse manner they surely prefer. Harper's editor Christian Lorentzen is apparently the one who writes these things, but Jess Roy could no doubt use the emails to spin yet another indictment of the greatest literary cabal of our era, etc. — without even leaving the house! We've reprinted a couple, via Daily Intelligencer, after the jump.
Novelist Keith Gessen, having been ridiculed here and elsewhere on the Web over the past week, is still trying to take back the internet from mean people. But he just had a sudden, happy epiphany, in which he realized that these vicious critics are not really being mean to him but toward their own caricature of him. They're just "bored at work" and are trying to have fun, so they imagine Gessen to be the juicy target they crave and lash out. "So, it's cool," the very important intellectual wrote. (He later rephrased this as, "You know, whatever.") Gessen is so relieved that the internet meanies don't hate him (just the distant, imagined "him") that he's invited us all to his place, or at least his workplace, for a big Friday night bash! Our nice, in-person selves will "take back the internet" from our anonymous-behind-a-keyboard selves! Bring your kittens and so forth!! Time/place, along with a longer explanation of why Gessen is so totally over you, after the jump.
And how many more lives will it ruin before it's finally shut off? n+1, the most important literary magazine of our time, came to the sad conclusion that the internet will never "blow over," in the words of one panelist, n+1's Mark Greif. And so they organized a forum called "The Internet: We All Live There Now." I swallowed a Xanax, along with my pride, and checked it out.
n+1 magazine—the most important literary magazine of our time—is presenting a very special evening on "The Internet: We All Live There Now." Moe from our sister site Jezebel will be speaking, as will n+1 editors Benjamin Kunkel and Mark Greif. Among other things, they'll "debate the implications of anonymity for bloggers and those who comment on the blogs they write." It's tonight at 7pm at the Kitchen. Be there with bells on! [Flavorpill]
The gossip has been coursing into our emails in various forms and tones for several weeks now: former Gawker editor (and newly minted NYT Mag essaysist) Emily Gould and n+1 editor and newly minted novelist Keith Gessen are no longer boyfriend-girlfriend. OK? We'll spare you the overlong analysis of possible root causes. So all you ladies who have been whispering about Keith's hotness from the back of his readings (I was there, I heard you!) can now say it to his face. Gessen's take on the situation? It was casually buried in his article in The Stranger last week:
A.S. Hamrah, film critic for blah-blah-ing lit journal N+1, is stuck at the glamorous Cannes Film Festival but it's not as glamorous as it was when it was new, and that makes him sad. "It's not just that celebrities are dull. More and more, there's also something about them that fills us with revulsion. It used to be that a celebrity sighting was cause for celebration. You'd phone the wife and kids: 'Hey, I just saw Robert Stack walking into the Automat!' Now it's more an occasion for jeering. Or, more accurately, a chance to feel a deep queasiness about what's happened to our culture. The celebrity is quickly becoming a harbinger of nausea, a delivery system for Weltschmerz, there to remind us that things, actually, are what they seem: pathetic."
Sometimes, the future is right in front of your face. Three years ago, there was a different n+1 (the most important literary journal of our time) dude publishing a much-vaunted, yet sorely disappointing first novel featuring immature young men fumbling their way with tragically smart women who are only with them due to the startling lack of suitable males in New York. It was Benjamin Kunkel's Indecision. This weekend, a reader snapped a photo of it at Barnes and Noble in Hyannis, Massachusetts, on fire-sale at the "Under $5" table... next to Michael Crichton. (Click to enlarge.)
Oh noes! Someone at the Spectator, Columbia University's student paper, wrote a negative review of literary mag n+1 editor Keith Gessen's novel, All the Sad Young Literary Men. Now another Columbia kid, Mark Krotov, is coming to the rescue! Wait for the disclosure: "I have done a little work for Gessen and his magazine, which has a very low circulation rate." NEG! Is it just us, or is Keith's entire world very incest-y?
That is what I have been wondering about the hype surrounding founding editor of n+1 (the most important literary journal of our time) and his debut novel, All the Sad Young Literary Men. Last night at McNally Robinson, while waiting for his reading to begin, I gazed over his head and across the street into the PinkyOtto boutique, glaring at their evil shopgirl. A strict-looking, skinny brunette in the crowd made a big show of fanning her face: "He's hot!" she stage-whispered to her girlfriend, cocking her head towards the author. "What?" the friend asked. "He's so hot!" she repeated, louder this time. She looked like she hadn't eaten in days.