New Republic resident intellectual (and former guest star) Leon Wieseltier offers a kaddish for "The Sopranos."
When Marty Peretz announced that the beleaguered New Republic was going "fortnightly," he promised that even though there would be fewer issues, the magazine's new publishing schedule would allow for "deeper writing on truly significant matters. Again, on politics, with penetrating thinking in very literate prose. Domestic affairs and foreign relations, confronting the deep breaches in our own society. Culture is not a step-child." How's that working out?
Until now, figurehead-publisher Martin Peretz's promise to TNR readers that each new redesigned issue would be 80 pages, instead of 40, has gone unfulfilled. It was with a hardened heart that we read his latest e-mail missive to subscribers, for it seems that in the latest issue of the magazine is an article about "Islamicist" thinker Tariq Ramadan. Peretz calls the article "erudite and vivid, a model of the history of contemporary ideas." He also writes, "People will be arguing about it for a very long time." Who can argue with that? The article is 28,000 words long—and still this week's issue is only 68 pages! Oops. Perhaps some of that redesign money would've been better spent on a new sales team?
In March, New Republic Editor-in-Chief and former owner Martin Peretz told subscribers that the weekly magazine's shift to a bi-weekly publication schedule might mean fewer issues, but it would not mean fewer pages! The magazine would now be 80 pages, instead of 40, and would come out half as often. So readers would be receiving the same number of pages per year, just divided among fewer issues. This was immediately shown to be not at all true, and has become even less true as time has gone on.
Hey! Remember a few weeks ago, when New Republic editor-in-chief Marty Peretz and his henchman Frank Foer made a big deal about the magazine's redesign, and how subscribers would be getting half as many issues, but they'd be twice as long? In fact, we believe he actually pinpointed how many pages the magazine would be: 80, instead of 40. This was supposed to assuage angry subscribers who had paid for 44 issues, but would now only get 24. (Math!) Anyway, imagine our surprise when we opened up the latest issue to find only 64 pages! (And that includes the Spring Books section!) Does this mean they're planning on doing 36 issues per year? We demand answers. Are things not going well under the new CanWest full-ownership scheme?
We just got our hands on a copy of the new, redesigned, so pretty New Republic (being traditionalists, we prefer to wait until it arrives in the mail days after it comes out)! You've probably seen it— it's the one with the 9th grade art class painting of Barack Obama on the cover. Anyway, there's a nice little note from the editors about the redesign, about the new, thicker magazine, the better quality paper (shiny!), the original art (see above), and the photography (floating heads of David Sedaris!). There's also a number you can call for "human interaction" about the redesign, so we decided to give them a ring. We hoped that Frank or even Marty himself would answer!
New Republic email list subscribers received a communiqu from erstwhile Editor-in-Chief (but no longer owner!) Martin Peretz, Mr. Blogsy McBlogsalot himself, this afternoon, informing them of the mag's new publication schedule and thickness (80 pages instead of 40, blah blah blah). All this, and more, can be yours for a mere $9.97 per year, which—even to our non-print-media eyes—seems rather, shall we say, cheap. Also, he says that "this week is a week of interregnum for The New Republic," which seems like a bit of an overstatement, even for a notorious malapropist.
As we mentioned on Friday, The New Republic, the nation's leading provider of pro-Israel diatribes and grudging apologies for fiercely supporting the war in Iraq will be switching to a twice-per-month publishing schedule (which will still wind up in your mailbox two weeks late). Okay, we're excited: new frequency, bigger issues, etc.! Woo hoo! Can you tell us what's not changing for subscribers? Well, not the subscription price. ("Because we value your readership, your current subscription price will not change due to the magazine's recent improvements.") Anything else?
• The New Republic has its first "bloodless transition" of editors in many years, as nebbishy-novelist-brother Franklin Foer takes over for incumbent Peter Beinart, on whose watch the magazine lost 40 percent of its circ. [NYT/NYO]
• Sale of Spin closes today for "well under $5 million." In 1997, it was sold for $42 million. [Ad Age]
• Jack Shafer is bored with Barney Calame now, too. [Slate]
• NBC's Winter Olympics coverage had worst ratings in nearly 20 years. [USAT]
• Online ads are getting more expensive. Which is a trend we can only endorse. [NYP]
Stephen Glass, who "was fired from The New Republic five years ago for fabricating details in 27 stories," has written a roman-a-clef. About himself. (Proving thereby that one can do any number of dispicable things and still revive their career with 350 pages of the gory details.) Neal Pollack points out that he, too, has written a roman-a-clef about his days at The New Republic. An excerpt:
The new editor, Farty [Airputz]announced, would be his greatest pupil from Harvard, a brilliant young freshly-minted Ph.D. named Mandrew Mullivan. "And here he is!" Farty said, as he pulled back a curtain. There Mandrew stood, gleaming in the light. The perfect picture of male beauty and brilliance. His biceps rippled under his muscle shirt.
"I'm gay!" he said.
The staff of The New Century gasped.
"But I'm also conservative!"
"And my first task as editor of The New Century will be to order a poorly-researched hit job on Bill Moyers!"
Yes, yes. Very nice, Neal. But you neglected to mention other offerings in the genre:
· Jeffrey Dahmer's revision of the Malcolm Bradbury classic, Eating People Is Wrong.
· The Unabomber's first novel, It's in the Mail.
· The recently released roman-a-clef by an anonymous NYT fact-checker, The Corrections.
A history of lying recounted as fiction [NYT]