This wasn’t easy, believe me. And honestly I wish I could say it wasn’t you, it was me, but it kind of was you. But also me. Sigh.
I remember the first time I decided that I had to immediately begin subscribing to The New Yorker. It was 1997, very likely the spring. I was on the subway with a bunch of people from NYU. One of the women was talking about an article she’d read involving a serial killer. “Wasn’t that great? Did you see that whole Crime and Punishment issue of The New Yorker?” They had whole issues about things like that? (No, not since then, I should point out.) I was sold.
Now reading The New Yorker is pretty much made for subway riding and for a few years, it and I had a perfect relationship. It would show up in my mailbox early in the week and we’d spend a few days together. Then I’d be done and able to get on with the rest of my life, which is how you have to think about things once you become involved with The New Yorker.
But then when I turned 30, two things happened that forever changed my relationship with The New Yorker. (All right, hang on. I’m not trying to be lazy or anything but I did really write about this once already, so I’m going to have to direct you here.)
So now it’s two years later and what happened? I don’t like any of the articles anymore. I know that people have been saying this since like a day after the first issue came out in 1925, but The New Yorker used to be, well, better. By the time I subscribed people were telling me that it was not even worth reading anymore and I continued on for 15 years, doubting them.
Now I find myself flipping through each issue, mindlessly, the way I do whenever I get my hands on Martha Stewart’s Living magazine. I might start an article and then think, Eh, I know how it ends, or even, Who cares what happens next? I know. I feel terrible.
And then the fiction. Oh, the fiction. I am the only person I know who actually prefers short stories to novels, so if there was one thing I could always count on it was the fiction. Sometimes that was the only thing I could get through, but I’d think it was totally worth it.
But then the other day I was lying in bed with The New Yorker, just like any other ordinary day, and I turned to the fiction and started reading. Oh my god, I can’t even do this, I thought, and closed the magazine. That’s when I knew it was over.
And in truth, I’m kind of glad. It definitely frees me up to read actual books (currently Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84, which is something like 5,000 pages long and heavier than a brick, though extremely enjoyable) and to, you know, get on with my life.
For some reason, the issues keep coming (they have always been relentless) but at some point soon, they will stop. Soon their absence will be felt even greater than their permanent presence in my recycling pile. And maybe I’ll even one day miss The New Yorker, and I’ll want it back in my life. But for now, I think it’s time to move on. (Don’t worry, Malcolm Gladwell, you’ll be just fine!)