Since I arrived in the US about six years ago, I’ve been interested in learning about the culture of my new country. An obvious way is to read the magazines and learn what people are talking about. Alas, the free press is usually not very interesting. Some magazines are standing out; I’ve been subscribed to The Atlantic
, the Pacific Standard
and Rolling Stones
, and I’ve read GQ, Vanity Fair, The Economist (though British), but while there’s a bunch of good articles, they are plagued by terrible layouts, dull advertisement, and I can’t find any thing that matches some of my favorite French magazines, such as Les Inrocks
or Le Nouveau Magazine Litteraire
, though I must say I now realize they often feature subjects that have been thoroughly digested by US magazines.
There is however a publication which is consistently good, entertaining, frequent (every week) and almost free of advertisement: The New Yorker
, which contrary to its name suggests doesn’t delve too much on the (otherwise great) city of New York.
“He tells it like it is.” August 18, 2016
Not only the quality and the length of the articles, which are often sheltered from the ceaseless stream of news, allows go deep into some subjects (some arcane but always interesting), but they do make an impact.
It is quite remarkable for a journal to be able to uncover so many stories. Maybe the times are ripe for that and comes the reckoning…
The publication has a tremendous legacy, with writers such as Hannah Arendt (who published her series on the banality of evil there), James Baldwin who covered the civil rights movement and Susan Sontag who mused on various topics (see her collected articles in Against Interpretation and On Photography.)
I am speaking as a member of a certain democracy and a very complex country that insists on being very narrow-minded. Simplicity is taken to be a great American virtue along with sincerity. One of the results of this is that immaturity is taken to be a great virtue, too. – James Baldwin
There are many contributors to the magazine, but there are three I am particularly fond of, maybe because I can relate and they write things I don’t even know to express. Jia Tolentino
covers Millenial generation with great nuance, and how we navigate the navigate the culture rift; Adam Gopnik
often writes about culture in the broad sense, often threading from his experience in France (he has a very acute knowledge of France culture and how it differs from US culture); Louis Menand
writes excellent book reviews.
It is interesting to see that both Gopnik and Tolentino released books in the past month (“A thousand small sanities” and “Trick Mirror”), which both deal with the current, heavy, atmosphere that lingers over the country as a whole, not complaining, but trying to find an outlet.