The Poor Man’s Paris Review


Arts & Culture

This morning we received a copy of The Paris Magazine, which bills itself as “The Poor Man’s Paris Review” and has appeared exactly four times since its founding in 1967. This isn’t very often for a quarterly magazine. Like a blazing comet with an extremely irregular orbit, issue four of The Paris Magazine is not to be missed. I commend to your attention—just for example—Todd McEwen on growing up Thoreauvian: “It was Thoreau’s slow, almost maddeningly slow, description of leaves, of trees, that drew me in. Right away I recognized in Thoreau a fellow connoisseur of depression … ” (This called to mind a favorite paragraph from Sam Munson’s recent novel The November Criminals.)

Instead of answering several important e-mails, I also read Rivka Galchen’s essay on the DSM, Ferlinghetti’s game attempt to translate “Le Pont Mirabeau,” and a rangy essay by Michel Houellebecq on contemporary architecture, including these memorable last lines:

A society which has attained an overheated level doesn’t necessarily melt, but it is unable to produce meaning, since all its energy is taken up with the description of its random variations. Every individual is however capable of producing a sort of cold revolution within himself by stepping outside the infomercial flow. It’s very easy to do. It has in fact never been simpler than today to adopt an aesthetic position in relation to the world: all you have to do is take a step to the side. And this step in the final instance is itself useless. It is enough to pause; to switch off the radio, unplug the television; not to buy anything else, not to want to buy anything else. It is enough to no longer take part, to no longer know; to temporarily suspend all mental activity. It is enough, literally, to be still for a few seconds.

Which is exactly what I was! Congratulations to the new editor of The Paris Magazine, Fatema Ahmed, and to its publisher, the much-loved Shakespeare and Company. May they too find some momentary stillness—and yet manage to produce their next issue before 2019.