Memo To: David Remnick, editor
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Love Your Magazine
Congratulations on your jackpot at the National Magazine Awards. Five in all and I’ll bet the judges had to cut you off or you might have swept the field! After years and years of wandering around in the desert, The New Yorker and Eustace Twilley have found their way back to the good old days when it was the best magazine in the English language, as far as I was concerned. While we have exchanged occasional e-mails over the past few years, I want it known that we have never met, we are not “friends,” and my high praise solely is due to my appreciation of what you have accomplished. I’m also pleased with myself for seeing it coming, as you may recall the “memo on the margin” I wrote here on July 15, 1998, when you took the helm. As a high schooler in Brooklyn in the early 1950's, I became a fanatical reader of the The New Yorker, and dreamt of becoming a writer who someday could find his work published in it. Never happened, as it turned out, because whatever talents I had as a writer were hardwired into the newspaper world.
You know that as soon as I saw that you would imbue the magazine with your own personality, even picking all the cartoons to suit you particular tastes, I ordered subscriptions for my three children. They were all surprised that I did this, not even quite sure what you were all about. My son Matthew was born to be a writer, but for the last several years, since he finished college, he had been thinking he would be a political writer, like his Dad. After more than a year of reading The New Yorker, he has decided he’s always wanted to write fiction. I’ve told him he has to expect a slug of rejection slips, but maybe it will work out, and he will help you win some awards down the line.
Here are a couple of links, to my 1998 memo, and to the awards link. My special kudos to Nick Lemann, your Washington political writer, for his profiles of Al Gore and Dick Cheney, two memorable journalistic events this past year, and to Seymour Hersch, one of the award winners, for his long piece on General Barry McCaffrey’s Gulf War “turkey shoot.”