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Sunday, May 14, 2006

Undecided about Foer's 'New Republic.'

New Republic, May 22I confess that I liked the aesthetic changes Peter Beinart brought to The New Republic, from the overall redesign of the magazine to the use of striking cover photographs and illustrators (especially digital "woodcuts") to "Notebook," a spread of brief, often vicious takedowns of Washington insiders illustrated with a caricature by David Cowles. My response to the changes introduced since Franklin Foer replaced him in March have been largely negative. "Notebook" is gone, with nothing brief to replace it: Boom, the essays start. That's a mistake. Three of the covers since Foer took over have been provocatively bad: The April 10 Anna Nicole Smith cover was bad enough, but the April 17 cover made me think the magazine was about to be renamed Political Maxim; a week later, the cover depicted a demonic president of Iran, sharp fangs and all. I very nearly cancelled my print subscription. With the May 1 Harold Bloom cover, I started to pick up Foer's cover sensibility, and I have to say that it strikes this Gen-Xer as too ironic. Maybe Beinart's liberal nationalist gusto wasn't selling newsstand copies, but will Foer's high-low mishmash do much better? This week's cover is the first one in Foer's tenure that strikes me as genuinely interesting and worth keeping out for a week — and the theme is pop culture. (Foer praises Simon Cowell, the Edmund Wilson of our time. Criticism is on the march!)

I still read the magazine, especially Leon Wieseltier's back of the book, but I'm not yet sold on Foer's regime.

Copyright © 2006 by Philocrites | Posted 14 May 2006 at 6:44 PM

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