It Hardly Matters

Thursday, January 18, 2007


Like a crazy half-woman, half-squirrel nerdpants, I've been saving every issue of the New Yorker since 1995. They sit in boxes in my parents' attic, take up valuable real estate in my Brooklyn apartment, rest in glossy piles in my bedroom, and fall on my head when I open the hall closet. I never quite knew what I was saving them for. But today, I figured it out.

When I was a young associate development editor in California, I had a meeting with three textbook authors and a more senior development editor in San Diego. I was flown down there from San Francisco to check in with the author team (i.e., make sure the Table of Contents for their introductory Public Speaking text was in order, buy them an expensive dinner in La Jolla, and wander aimlessly along the boardwalk in business clothes--thrilling, I know). The other editor was a pro--she'd been freelancing for years and had been handling some of my publishing house's more complicated books. At our meeting in my hotel suite, she off-handedly mentioned that she had an archive of New Yorkers in her apartment that she referenced frequently. The authors looked at her quizzically, while an exclamation point lit up inside my head: me too! Maybe I wasn't so crazy after all.

Newly committed to my hoarding, I maintained my collection. Every Tuesday, I'd read my new issue like a rabid animal, then, trancelike, place it in a pile "to be filed," meaning, "to be put in another pile or into a box in no particular order." I shamelessly forced my poor father and several of my friends to carry boxes full of magazines whenever I'd move apartments. But I never, not even once, cracked open one of those boxes.

Until today. See, what I've found, now that I've left my publishing days behind me and am back in school, is that every professor in my graduate writing program is, not surprisingly, and not unlike me, obsessed with the New Yorker. Several of them worked on the editorial staff and/or had their articles and stories published inside. I've read at least one New Yorker story in every class I've taken so far. My new workshop is no exception: of about 20 required readings listed on the syllabus, three of them are New Yorker stories. So instead of printing out 40 scanned pages on my feeble printer, instead of going to the library and making photocopies, I just gleefully busted through a dilapidated Staples box and unearthed the two issues from 2003 that contained my required reading.

I guess I was doing something worthwhile those 12 years. Sorta.


  • I remember those New Yorkers fondly. They went well with my wall o' videotapes, which are now getting boxed up to move to yet another apartment, dusty and largely unwatched. But John & I can't bear to throw out good movies... or even mediocre ones we're just fond of.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:52 PM  

  • megs, we've just started our new subscription to NY-er and i'm SO excited to KEEP every friggin one of them. For awhile there, I was taking old, unread ones from my friend and reading and keeping those... now, i've got my own to horde.

    By Anonymous molly m, at 4:17 PM  

  • You get your New Yorker on Tuesdays? In Brooklyn? I'm resigned to getting them on Thursdays or Fridays. I guess Williamsburg is a bit closer to Manhattan than Cobble Hill...

    By Blogger Jeff'y, at 4:04 PM  

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