Well, look. If it isn’t me getting my shit together and actually doing reviews throughout the year, not just panicking for the last twenty days. Fun, isn’t it?
We’ve gathered here today to talk about Gone: The Last Days of The New Yorker by Renata Adler. I’ll quickly give you my reasons for picking this up, to help you understand my opinions:
I really like The New Yorker. I’ve actually never bought a copy, because I’m a broke student and it’s really overly expensive in Germany, but I enjoy the articles I can read online and what is uploaded to Instagram, and I definitely feel the special position it still holds for a lot of people in the realm of magazine publications.
In addition, I’m also generally extremely interested in journalism and media and love reading about the industry.
So, when I randomly came across this book in my library, having never heard of it, I just picked it up on a whim, ready to be surprised.
What I wanted from this was a piece of the magazine’s history told by someone who was there and knows how to write a good piece of non-fiction, because that has obviously been Renata Adler’s job for years. Maybe some analysis on why, as she obviously states, the magazine is slowly dying.
I got a bit of both. But prevalently, this was a mix of Adler writing her autobiography and getting even with literally everyone that’s ever worked for The New Yorker.
While she does start with some general reflections on how the magazine got to the special position it once held in the publishing world, and how it lost that again, she quickly gets into pages over pages of (about equally in-depth) analysis of books some of her colleagues have written on the magazine, showing up all the aspects in which they are obviously blatantly wrong and bad writing in addition.
This opening then leads into an endless array of personal anecdotes, all resulting to a few simple truths:
Renata Adler is the epitome of the adamant, competent journalist. She could have left The New Yorker numerous times for easier positions at other publications. But, mostly, she didn’t. Because Renata is loyal, she’s steadfast, she’s got ideals.
That’s why everyone that doesn’t get completely roasted in this book gave a lot on her opinion. Of course, she was always ready to produce some brilliant advice.
She was friends with some really famous writers. They really valued her opinion, too.
Everyone in journalism is really fake. You’ll never know if they actually like you. Renata Adler, of course, sees right through it.
Editors are absolute assholes. They just love to annoy writers.
The New Yorker was better in the past. As was, of course, everything.
So yes, I really don’t think you need to read this book. It has some interesting things I didn’t know about publishing and The New Yorker in particular, and other than a lot of other reviewers, I actually enjoy Adler’s writing style.
Hadn’t I grown to not particularly like her, I might’ve been inclined to pick up some of her less personal texts, because I definitely think she’s a good writer. Still, having made my way through Gone, I really don’t want to spend any more time in her head right now…