Complacencies of a Beach Towel

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. They do not post their best pieces, except when they do. They do not have their best writers blogging, except when they do. Really, what the New Yorker has done online is remain totally unembarrassed by everything they have done online. Did they spend one zillion dollars on a “digital reader” for subscribers that must have looked great at the pitch meeting but shrinks the 10.5 Caslon type just past the point of readability? Yes, they did. Did they hold a pet photo contest on Halloween? Yes, they did. But do they care? No, they don’t. This may be a model for others, or it may just be something this one magazine can get away with. Hard to tell.

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. We love the new Paris Review, partly because it always makes us forget what year it is, but never in a depressing way, like Harper’s. We opened a recent issue and found all our favorite hits from the archives: poems from an ancient civilization, an experimental short story by a woman, some brightly colored art that must have been very expensive to print, and obscene fiction by a Jewish person. But what satisfied us most was the feeling that we were enjoying a product with a past, and with the distinction of an earlier age. Where did that feeling come from? Was it the Xanax (or maybe it was Valium) that made us suspect that if the issue had been released in 1959, no one would have noticed that it came from the future?

We were so absorbed in the Paris Review that we almost forgot about the internet, where, as it happens, the magazine maintains a very attractive website. We have so much fun looking at the Paris Review blog, with its pictures of bookshelves and book covers and many items about children’s books, for some reason. Our favorite part of the website, though, is the online store, where the magazine has recently branched out into adult apparel, infant apparel, intern apparel. They’ve done seasonal coffee mugs, notepads, fountain pens. The Paris Review beach towel never fails to send us into an admiring trance, with its line drawing of two Bolaño characters (or are they Paris Review readers?) lounging on what must also be in their universe a Paris Review beach towel.

More from Issue 15

Issue 15 Amnesty

The internet, we mean women, never pays for its content—or for their drinks!

Issue 15 Amnesty

Even as newsstand sales and ad revenues declined, MacArthur refused to consider any online strategies.

Issue 15 Amnesty

Cashing in on stereotypes about female readers, and female nature, is the foundation on which the Atlantic was built.

Issue 15 Amnesty
Issue 15 Amnesty
Issue 15 Amnesty
Issue 15 Amnesty
Letters from Oslo
Issue 15 Amnesty
The Long Eighties
Issue 15 Amnesty
How to Quit
Issue 15 Amnesty

Time for rest.

Issue 15 Amnesty

“True individual freedom,” FDR said, “cannot exist without economic security and independence.”

Issue 15 Amnesty
On Jeanette Winterson
Issue 15 Amnesty

No Indian city has seen collective action on the scale that Mumbai has. Few cities anywhere in the world have.

Issue 15 Amnesty

I’m the internet. You might have heard of me.

More by this Author

June 10, 2020

Our Spring issue, TRANSMISSION, is almost here. See what’s inside.

Issue 11 Dual Power

The division between empiricists and fantasists is clearest in politics. But it’s beginning to enter literature.

Issue 12 Conversion Experience

We would chat while they thought we were working; they would grow old and die; we would inherit the earth and chat forever.

Issue 10 Self-Improvement

The MFA beast has at last been offered a look in the mirror, and may finally come to know itself as it is.

Issue 13 Machine Politics

One started a chant about love transcending all. We repeated it, trailing off with groans when the meaning sank in.

Issue 29 Bottoms Up

The promise of ride-sharing is that it complements public transit. In practice, it eliminates it.