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All the News Not Fit to Print

October 23, 2014 | by


“Sounds as if they emptied the back room at Elaine’s for this one.” —Calvin Trillin, in 1978, speculating on the character of those behind Not the New York Times.

The New York Times has seen surprisingly few interruptions in its 163-year history. The paper took five holidays in the early 1850s; a strike in 1962–3 led to nineteen days of silence; another, in 1965, caused four “joint” publication dates, which combined the Saturday and Sunday papers. And then there was 1978, when, from August 10 to November 4, a multiunion strike shuttered all three of New York City’s major newspapers. No editions of the Times were printed for a record-setting eighty-eight days.

Two and a half months into the ’78 strike, though—and thirty-six years ago today—New Yorkers awoke to find the Times unexpectedly back on newsstands, kind of. This was Not the New York Times, a one-off parody rife with satirical news stories, faux advertisements, and farcical editorials. Among the items on the front page were an exposé on an exotic new drug (“pronounced ko-kayne” and “generally ingested nasally”), a tedious seven-paragraph report written entirely in bureaucratese (“Carter Forestalls Efforts To Defuse Discord Policy”), and Mayor Koch’s recipe for chicken curry. There was a weather notice, too: “Mostly present today, still there tomorrow.”

The spoof, it turned out, was the work of Paris Review founder George Plimpton and a handful of his friends, including Christopher Cerf, Tony Hendra, and Rusty Unger. Among those enlisted as “journalists” were Carl Bernstein, Nora Ephron, and Terry Southern—though none was exactly forthright about his or her contributions.

“I had nothing to do with this,” Cerf quipped. “I can give you a list of other people who weren’t involved as well. It’s also not true that we used the Plimptons’ apartment to put the paper together. I ought to know. I was there all week.” Plimpton himself was unavailable for comment—presumably tidying up after playing host to the editorial debauchery. (Incidentally, The Paris Review—also run out of Plimpton’s Seventy-second Street apartment—failed to meet its deadlines that fall; the staff was forced to merge its final two issues into a single Fall-Winter edition.) Read More »


TPR vs. Departures: Season Openers and Citi Bikes

May 31, 2013 | by

Team         |1|2|3|4|5|6|7   Total
Departures   |0|0|2|0|2|1|0       5
TPR          |0|5|4|2|4|3|       18

Photo by Emily Farache

Photo by Emily Farache

Well, folks: we’re off to a good start. Team Paris Review kicked off its season—and its residency at our new home field—with a comfortable win over the Platinum Card crew from Departures. Unlike the clientele of our vanquished foes, there was very little exclusivity in yesterday’s merry band of Parisian home-run hitters, which included the likes of Robyn “Big Daddy” Creswell, Adam “Watch It Fly” Wilson, Ben “Wisdom” Wizner, and Charlie “Buckets” Stein.

George Plimpton, founding editor of (and longtime pitcher for) The Paris Review

George Plimpton, founding editor of (and longtime pitcher for) The Paris Review

Those distracted from the game by the blissful heat of the late-spring afternoon may have noticed the elderly fellow who, having wrested free a Citi Bike from a nearby docking station—and evidently intent on imitating our circling of the bases—began looping around the park, occasionally glancing down at his feet to study the bike’s mechanics. Judging it sound, he exited the park just as we wrapped things up, and headed north on Tenth Avenue. I couldn’t help but be reminded of another gray-haired cyclist, one who’d no doubt approve of both a city full of public bikes and of another season of Paris Review softball.

Next up: Vanity Fair (June 11, 7:00 P.M., Central Park).





On the Road iPad

March 18, 2013 | by


In 1955, The Paris Review paid a struggling Jack Kerouac fifty dollars for an excerpt from a then unpublished manuscript. The excerpt appeared as a short story titled “The Mexican Girl” and, after much acclaim, was picked up a year later by Martha Foley’s The Best American Short Stories. Due in large part to the success of “The Mexican Girl,” On the Road was soon accepted by Viking Press; the full novel was published in 1957.

The issue containing Kerouac’s excerpt—The Paris Review no. 11 (Winter 1955)—has long since sold out, but we’re happy to announce that it’s now available in digital form via the Paris Review app. For those interested in our hard-to-find archival issues, we’ve also digitized issues 1, 18, and 20, and many more are on the way.

In fact, for the next two weeks, readers who purchase a digital subscription via the Paris Review app will receive free digital access to the issue containing Kerouac’s excerpt. Alongside “The Mexican Girl” are stories by Gerard Reve and Marjorie Housepian, an interview with Nelson Algren, portfolios by Antoni Clavé and Oskar Kokoschka, and poetry by Louis Simpson, John Hollander, W. S. Merwin, Rolf Fjelde, Christopher Logue, and John Haislip. And all of that, of course, accompanies a year-long digital subscription to The Paris Review, beginning with issue 204.

There’s good reason for print subscribers to download the app, too—we’ve granted free digital access to any issue covered by your print subscription. (If you’re a print subscriber and haven’t yet set up your app account, send an e-mail to support [at] theparisreview [dot] org.) There’s also lots of free content, including our complete interview archive—now fully bundled for offline viewing—and The Paris Review Daily. That’s really all to say: there’s no good reason not to have us on your iPad or iPhone!

(To those with Android devices: we hope to have a version for you soon!)



Fact-checking Ray Bradbury

June 6, 2012 | by

I didn’t grow up reading The Paris Review. My earliest encounter with the magazine—I’m somewhat ashamed to admit—came in graduate school, when I stumbled upon an interview with Milan Kundera. (I was writing a paper on translation, and the quote I pulled didn’t even make it into a footnote.) Had you asked me, a year or so later, when I found myself applying for an internship, what the magazine meant to me, I wouldn’t have given you an honest answer. It didn’t mean much of anything to me. I wanted a foot in the door in New York, and The Paris Review’s seemed as good a door as any.

The latest issue, 191, had closed just before I started, so my first few weeks were quiet. I read submissions, delivered packages, distributed the mail. Then came my first real assignment: We were running an interview with Ray Bradbury, and it needed fact-checking. I volunteered.

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On Press with The Paris Review

March 1, 2012 | by

How good is our two-hundredth issue? So good that Matt, an operator at the Sheridan Press, accidentally let about five hundred sheets slip from one of the presses after he sat down—get this—to read a few pages from our interview with Bret Easton Ellis. “I grabbed a sheet from the stack and forgot to look up,” he explained. “I didn’t know he’d written so many books!”

(We can’t blame you, Matt. It’s a damn fine interview.)

Managing editor Nicole Rudick and I are in Hanover, Pennsylvania, on our quarterly trip to Sheridan, where our latest issue is running hot off the presses. We usually hole up for the day in the “Library”—it’s far enough away from the actual printers that we can’t cause much trouble—but this time Todd, Sheridan’s prepress manager, was kind enough to take us around for a tour.

A Heidelberg press printing the cover of issue 200.

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