April 06, 2005


Brendan Wolfe

A distinction worth making: The Atlantic is not eliminating fiction. It is eliminating (as the magazine said and the NY Times reports) "the regular publication of fiction." No fiction every month. Not no fiction.


I won't be renewing that subscription later this year, and will redirect the money to literary journals who still consider short fiction to be relevant.


Brendan, to me that's distinction without a difference - this is, effectively, an elimination.


The hardest part of reading through the May issue is seeing the enormous amount of space given over to Tom Carson's look at "OPEN WIDE: How Hollywood Box Office Became a National Obsession," compared with the brief looks at Ishiguro and Murakami.

The real reason for this subtraction of fiction is the growth of ad revenue for the magazine over the last year. This move offers more space for ads without adding pages and cost.



Not mailing out the fiction issue is the worst yet. I hadn't heard that. So their regular subscribers must slog through onscreen, which (I don't care how young and computer savvy you are) is so inconvenient most stories probably won't get read. The rest of us must purchase at a newsstand. Well, maybe that would be okay. Nice cover, a little marketing . . . Anyone have any idea how well various magazines' special issues sell?

paul wiener

As a long-time Atlantic lover, I must take issue. The change in editorial policy may upset some, but if you like long narrative reportage, essays, etc, as I do, nothing comes close to the Atlantic. Its reporting in the last few years on politics,9/11, Iraq, air safety, foreign policy, American society, books, is unsurpassed, and deserves extensive prose space. It deserves more support than the New Yorker. There is not a better writer alive than Wm. Langeweische, for instance. There's loads of venues for fiction. Show some respect for writing, and forget the imagined superiority of fiction.



I agree with you but, since Mark provides us a wonderful literary service, bemoaning the loss of a consistent fiction piece in one of the nation's most prominent magazines is a fairly acceptable use of our time and energy. This is one space that is perfect to luxuriate in the imagined superiority of fiction. Personally, I find the reportage in Vanity Fair superior to the majority of articles I find in The Atlantic. Last year's "Path to War" in Vanity Fair is first-rate, and as good as long narrative reportage gets.

Jim Ruland

I'm firmly in the nonfiction camp (even if it is a smokescreen for ramping up ad revenue). The primacy of short fiction is a myth that exists in the minds of its professional (and that's being generous) practicioners. This is what irritates me the most about the franchising of short story writing instruction: its more outspoken beneficiaries behave as if the book and magazine publishing industries owe them something. If you really think the Atlantic's decision is detrimental to the genre, then for fuck's sake do something about it.

Jim L

I am also an Atlantic subscriber who is flabbergasted by this change. I've long respected the Atlantic for always publishing real short stories that I look forward to reading. The stories aren't always by "name authors" and are usually self-contained treasures.

By contrast, I also subscribe to the New Yorker and I find that almost exclusively they publish excerpts from soon-to-be published novels by marquee names - as such they rarely work as well as a good short story. In fact when faced once again with an obvious novel excerpt, you begin to suspect that the New Yorker's policy is the result of some literary agent/PR specialist/publishing tie-in rigmarole usually found in fast food restaurants and blockbuster movies and not the result of finding the best fiction available. The Atlantic was to be praised for mostly staying above that racket.


It's not that fiction should have primacy. It's neither more nor less valuable than other serious writing. But The Atlantic has a long history of publishing short stories, and it seems a shame for them to toss that aside.

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