On Saturday night at the house of Debby Applegate and Bruce Tulgan we rolled out issue #4. It was a seriously good time, although I fear I made myself look like a dunce talking into John Spalding’s little Flip — I remember saying something about how the Paris Review may have more subscribers, but I have better hair than its editor. Which I don’t think is even true; from what I can tell in photographs, Philip Gourevitch actually has a nice head of hair. I think I can sum up the party by saying that both NY Times deputy editor Jill Abramson and Moira Darling, one of Brooklyn's premier knitters (she owns Advanced Knit-Design), were both there. Also spotted: gonzo science writer Carl Zimmer (also with good hair, salt-and-pepper), memoirist Roya Hakakian (fabulous hair), journalist and master writing pedagogue Fred Strebeigh (legendary beard), New Republic critic Alexander Nemser (precocious beard), award-winning science writer Jenny Blair, memoirist and NHR board member Pang-Mei Chang (her hair is the stuff of urban legend), NHR contributor Sarah Borden (her great hair is the least of her attributes).
Lest I forget: novelist Rudolph Delson, short-story writer Liz Edelglass, condom blogger Jonathan Oppenheimer, noted chemist Frank Torre, historian Kirk Swinehart, literature scholar Nicole Fluhr, Australian Lee Faulkner, and man-about-town Josh Safran.
At some point after the gin kicked in I was talking to somebody about Gay Talese’s essay about the Paris Review in its 1960s, Plimpton-edited glory days. As I remember the essay, Talese’s main point seems to be that while Plimpton, Mathiessen, and the others had some talent — especially for spotting other talent — their main genius was for creating community. Largely this was about parties at Plimpton’s place (where, Talese reports, women were treated like so much furniture), but more generally it was about using a magazine as the centerpiece of a world. As I was speaking these words last night, I realized — or hoped — that I could have been talking about NHR, right down to the middling talent of us editors.
Or such, at least, is the delusion-producing quality of gin.