Occassional Literary Magazine Reviews: n+1 #15

Title: n+1

Number 15, Winter 2013


Theme: Amnesty

Featured Names on the Cover: No names on the cover, just article titles. Was trying to think of a good “amnesty” joke, something about people being “released” from the Cover Publicity-Promo Prison but it’s just not working for me. That, or I don’t really understand amnesty.

What: This keeps leaning more and more political, like The Baffler, but not quite in VQR range, without being overtly political. Even though I feel like they would dispute that. But usually the essays are spot-on, that’s what I read it for, I can’t really remember any fiction I’ve ever liked in here, and in this issue there is one piece of fiction (shout out to Mikhail Shishkin). I haven’t read every issue of n+1, but has it turned more political since the Occupy stuff? In the parlance of the day, “idk.”

Format: Loosely based on “amnesty” I guess, though I don’t get it. B&W. I noticed the ads more this time (good for me! will I buy something?). Ad for Dissent. Something for Longform.org (ok, I go there already, I’m in their “wheelhouse”). A back cover buy for On The Road starring America’s favorite teen wolf (she was a vampire, sorry, I knew that). An ad for the new Joshua Cohen book (I know who he is). An ad for a Ben Masters book (I don’t know who he is). Some more.

Why (Or Why Not To) Read It: I leaned more towards the not-reading this time around. There comes a point when I’ve been carrying this issue around not making any further headway, that I have to ask: do I care anymore? I reached that point with this. What I did like was the Kristina Dombeck piece called “How To Quit” that compulsively blended Drive, drug use, ending, recovery, and rich people gazing  into one. Nice work. The other standout was Lawrence Jackson writing about Baltimore(?) gangs and fashion in the late 80s. The style is definitely colloquial to its time, which gave it a distinctiveness while infusing it with elements of an era. It was nostalgic in that way, without directly stating it. Some things about the Atlantic were said as well as Harper’s and I wasn’t sure if these notes in the front of the book were supposed to be stand-alones or flow together. I guess they did a good job of doing both, which may have been the goal. Good job, good effort.

Much of the book was filled with memories about Shulamith Firestone, an early NOW organizer. I didn’t know her until this so I skimmed most of it. Good to know, but it seemed out of place to me in this book. Maybe I’m wrong.

Other pieces were about the trial of Anders Behring Breivik and Duran Duran, so maybe you’re into that.

Conclusion: Do I usually do a conclusion? Anyway here’s one: kind of hit or miss. If there’s already a predisposition to the topics at hand, you’ll be into it, if not, it’s not worth it. Or maybe I’m just easily bored on cold days.

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