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NAR: Greatest American litmag ever published?

The legendary American literary editor Ted Solotaroff died last week, and in the days since there have been a number of heartfelt tributes to the man. One of the most recent is from Solotaroff’s friend and editor, Gerry Howard, who reminisces about Solotaroff’s New American Review, arguing that it was the greatest American literary magazine ever published.

In 26 issues, from September 1967 through November 1977, under the successive sponsorships of New American Library, Simon & Schuster, and finally Bantam, NAR reliably bottled the cultural lightning flashing about in those thrillingly depressing years. […] As soon as NAR was launched, it became the place where young readers hot for the newest new things in literature and experience rushed to get The Word. Man, did it deliver.

Howard goes on to list the roster of talent that wrote for New American Review, and it is indeed an impressive roll call, including Philip Roth, E.L. Doctorow, Michael Herr, Susan Sontag, V.S. Pritchett, Ian McEwan, Russell Banks, and dozens of others.

New American Review died, we can see now, a natural economic and aesthetic death. The countercultural project dissipated, its audience matured (and maybe lost energy and interest), the accountants had their way. Literary Postmodernism gave way to Raymond Carver-style minimalism, and a more personal and reportage-based style of essay came to the fore “ two developments that another editor of genius, Bill Buford, championed when he grabbed the torch and launched the next great literary magazine, Granta. But there are thousands of people of a certain age, many of them in magazine and book publishing, who still cherish the excitement that NAR reliably delivered and had their sensibilities shaped and enlarged by its mind-altering contents.


August 20th, 2008

2:29 pm


Tagged with: obituaries