A Letter To My Unread Pile Of New Yorker Magazines


I hate you. I mean, I don’t hate you hate you. I just resent you deeply. Like the way you resent an older, more successful sibling. Or the way all the other guys from ‘N SYNC can’t stand Justin Timberlake. You’re always sitting there, staring at me, reminding me of my failings. A neatly stacked pile of knowledge and intellect that I haven’t touched in months, mostly because I’ve been busy watching Dance Moms and The Complete Second Season of Felicity for the third time. You’re a constant reminder of everything I could be, New Yorkers, if only I applied myself. Smart, opinionated, totally recyclable. And you have cartoons! Cartoons so funny that when you read them they don’t actually seem funny at all, which is how you know that deep down they are very very funny indeed.

We started out on such a promising note, New Yorkers. I got that subscription for you for my birthday, and for a while we went everywhere together. To the gym. To the toilet. To the toilet at the gym. Every week I’d read you cover to cover, even the reviews of books no one would ever read and the profiles of deposed political leaders from countries I’m pretty sure you made up. You were so interesting, and allowed me to be so interesting in turn. I could use sentences like, “Did you read that story on education in the New Yorker?” or “Oh, that reminds me of this story on education in the New Yorker!” (It was a really good story.) And then I could watch as my friends looked back me, impressed. Annoyed too, of course, very annoyed, but also impressed. It was clear that they had let their New Yorkers go unread. But not I. I would be different. Sigh.

I tried so many things to keep our relationship fresh. When you’d arrive on Tuesday, I’d make a serious point of looking through you and picking out what I was going to read. “Oh, a profile on Seth MacFarlane, I’ll save that for this weekend!” Then the weekend would come, A&E would be showing a Duck Dynasty marathon, and I’d reschedule our date, like always. Could you say I was unfaithful? Of course. But Duck Dynasty is a show about a Louisiana family that shoots ducks and sells duck call machines and never ever trims their beards or showers. How are you gonna compete with that, Pile of New Yorkers?! With an article on how photosynthesis has contributed to the energy crisis?! Come on. Commitment is a two-way street. Make a little effort.

I really think I could make this work if you could make one change: come less frequently. I mean, a new magazine every week? It’s relentless. And frankly, a little insecure. I’m into you, New Yorker, I’m just not sure I’m that into you anymore. I accept the blame. I’ve changed, you haven’t. There was a time when I thought an entire bound “Innovators Issue” sounded like a spectacular idea. Now I just wish the mailman would deliver it directly the bottom of the pile sitting on my counter, because that’s where it’s going to stay. Which brings me to the final matter at hand. Truly, I don’t know what to do. You go all the way back until March, Unread Pile of New Yorkers, and I can’t bring myself to throw you away. I know there’s still good in you, articles I want to read, things I’ll miss when they’re gone. Even though, right now, looking at you makes me ashamed. Can we make this work? Do we go for therapy? Our should we start seeing other periodicals? Because I ran into Rolling Stone at CVS yesterday and we really hit it off. Her pictures looked really…great. And, well, I don’t know how to tell you this, but last week, I used one of you to swat a fly. Is that how we know it’s over?

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image – The New Yorker