Monday, February 8, 2010

My Subscriptions

After years of grad school penury and a gruelling two-year-long job search process, I finally have a permanent academic postion and can indulge in my love of periodicals. Here are the journals and newspapers I subscribe to:

The Nation magazine is my absolute favorite. It is an example of truly superior progressive journalism. The Nation comes out every week and I practically dance around my mailbox every Monday, waiting for it to arrive. The writing style of The Nation's journalists is really good. After the feeble attempts at writing that come out of the so-called journalists writing for The New York Times and Washington Post, the style of The Nation's contributors is a breath of fresh air.

The articles address the most pressing political, social, economic, and cultural concerns. Last week's issue, for example, had (among other great things) a really good article by Sasha Abramsky on the current crisis in California. It finally helped me understand what is going on in that state and why it is falling apart. My favorite journalists who regularly contribute to The Nation are Alexander Cockburn, Katha Politt, Naomi Klein, and others.

At the end of every issue, there are very good reviews of interesting books of cultural studies, literary criticism, history, philosophy, etc.

A Kindle subscription to The Nation costs next to nothing, so I recommend you at least give it a try. Keep in mind, however, that the Kindle edition doesn't have the beautiful cover art, the great crossword puzzle, and the hilarious classifieds. For this reason, I overcame my Kindle-dependence and this year switched from a Kindle subscription to a paper version of the magazine.

El País is the leading daily newspaper in Spain. I started subscribing to it a couple of months ago and can say that it was a fantastic choice. Spanish journalism is truly superior to its US equivalent. It tells you a lot about the sorry state of the US print journalism when I always go to El País for the news on the events in the United States.

The most prominent Spanish and Latin American writers regularly contribute articles to El País. Juan Goytisolo, Mario Vargas Llosa, Rosa Montero, Almudena Grandes, Antonio Munoz Molina, Juan Jose Millas, and many other bestselling authors publish their articles in this fantastic newspaper. The equivalent of this would be seeing articles by Philip Roth, Margaret Atwood and Joyce Carol Oates in The NY Times every single day. Instead, NY Times regales us by badly written inanities from Douthat, Dowd, and Brooks.

Very well-written, progressive, well-organized, El País is also available on the Kindle. The day's issue is delivered to you on the stroke of midnight of the previous day.

The New Left Review is not available on Kindle. However, don't let this prevent you from checking out this great journal. The most prominent philosophers, journalists, cultural and literary critics, and academics write for this journal. Jean Baudrillard, Alain Badiou, Terry Eagleton, Perry Anderson, Eric Hobsbawm, Franco Moretti, the list of the eminent names that appear on the pages of New Left Review goes on and on. If you want to keep in touch with what these leading thinkers are doing and writing, this journal is for you.

Some people might get scared by the word 'Left' in the journal's title. Remember, however, that the very fact of being a thinker and a philosopher in itself means that you are on the left of the political spectrum. A conservative philosopher is a contradiction in terms.

Narrative is an online magazine of literary fiction available on Kindle. Its mission statement says that "Narrative is the leading online publisher of first-rank fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. A nonprofit organization, Narrative is dedicated to advancing the literary arts in the digital age by supporting the finest writing talent and encouraging readership around the world and across generations. Our online library of new literature by celebrated authors and by the best new and emerging writers is available for free."

I only started subscribing to it recently but the experience so far has been highly enjoyable. The amazing Joyce Carol Oates (whose fantastic, beautifully-crafted short stories I can read all day every day), Saul Bellow, E.L. Doctorow, Amy Tan, Jhumpa Lahiri, and lesser known but still very good authors have published in Narrative. If you want to keep in touch with what is happening with the English-speaking literature today, check out this magazine.

I first subscribed to St. Louis Post Dispatch in order to support journalism in this economically devastated area and to keep touch with what is going on locally.

It turned out that this newspaper isn't half bad. Of course, I have to skip letters from the readers that often exhibit the depths of bigotry I never encounter in real life. The 'Law and Order' section about the local crime is also very depressing. Still, it does the job of keeping me informed about the economic, political and cultural developments in the area.

Of course, I subscribe to the Kindle version in order to save paper and bring down costs. Before Kindle subscriptions appeared on the market, I always felt horrible about taking out a daily because of the obscene amount of paper it wasted. Now I subscribe to two dailies on my Kindle and as soon as I get a raise I am subscribing to Canadian Globe and Mail. Or maybe to The Montreal Gazette. Or both.

Of course, nobody can be all about politics, literary criticism, and intellectual stuff all the time. Even an academic needs to have fun and relax. My way of doing that is detective fiction. Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine and Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine are sister editions that offer great selections of short stories in the mystery genre.

I also subscribe to them on Kindle, which is beyond cheap, and once again, allows you to save paper.

I haven't seen much difference between these two magazines so far. This is why I subscribed to both. They compliment each other very well and offer stories for all kinds of tastes in the mystery genre.

Of course, give it to an academic to spoil even the most innocent kind of fun. Recently, I have been thinking of taking up a research interest in the mystery genre, so that all this detective novel reading I have done over the years doesn't go to waste.

But more about that in later posts.

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