So, some time ago we made some snotty comments about n+1 and we were challenged in the comments box to back them up. The timing wasn't quite right but the announcement at the n+1 website that issue number four is about to go to press provides us with a sterling opportunity.
We'd like to come back and give the magazine a fair shot on its own merits. But it seemed that merely critiquing it was, well, not that interesting, and besides we already do something like that (sometimes) with the LATBR.
But we thought it was an opportunity to measure it side by side against The Believer, another publication we've been a tad snotty about in the past. (And yes, we acknowledge that our propensity for snottiness can land us into trouble.) The comparison seems to us a fairly obvious one - both are well-meaning enterprises, a bit earnest a times but essentially aiming to elevate the discourse, and both are run by editors who can be startlingly thin-skinned.
So mark it on your calendars. As soon as n+1 issue number four is on the newsstands we'll pick it up - they stopped sending us copies after the first issue - and we'll give it a fair and thoughtful reading. We'll measure it up against whatever issue of The Believer is out at the time, and we'll devote an entire week to it, in stage race fashion (not unlike the Tour de France - perhaps we'll even award a daily yellow jersey). The stages are as follows:
(Monday) Prologue: Complete disclosure about any personal biases, followed by overall first impressions.
(Tuesday) Stage 1: n+1 Long features v. Believer Long features.
(Wednesday) Stage 2: n+1 Interviews/profiles v. Believer interviews/profiles
(Thursday) Stage 3: n+1 reviews v. Believer reviews
(Friday) Stage 4: Miscellany and a declaration of preference.
We welcome the opportunity to challenge our own preconceptions and give both magazines a fair shot. (The presence of a Believer book in our recommended sidebar should speak volumes about our capacity for objectivity.) We hope you'll be back for the fun, join the conversation and read along.