September 15, 2014

n+1 celebrates, anthologizes tenth anniversary

by

These people are all reading a great magazine.

These people are all reading a great magazine.

The Partisan Review survived for nearly seven decades, and last year, the New York Review of Books turned fifty. But these numbers deceive. For most literary magazines (except for the ones funded by very rich people), every month is a struggle for survival, and any date feels—justifiably—like an anniversary. Thus, when an actual round number comes around, there’s cause for actual, unmitigated celebration.

So all hail n+1, the brilliant, controversial, once un-Googleable, often incorrectly capitalized magazine of literature, culture, and politics, which celebrates its tenth anniversary this year. Founded in the summer of 2004 by Keith Gessen, Mark Greif, Benjamin Kunkel, Allison Lorentzen, and Marco Roth, n+1 has published some of the last decade’s best fiction, poetry, criticism, reporting, and essays. In a review of current co-editor Nikil Saval’s book Cubed, New York Times book critic Dwight Garner wrote that “so many good writers have come tumbling out of that small journal in the past few years that it’s begun to resemble an intellectual clown car,” an image that’s perhaps difficult to imagine, but unquestionably accurate.

In addition to the magazine and its website, n+1 has also published a number of books on subjects ranging from MFA programs to hedge funds to hipsters—all three of which happen to be the most important topics of our times. The magazine’s latest book, Happiness, collects some of the best work to have appeared in the magazine and has an introduction by Mary Karr. Out this week, Happiness includes brilliant literary criticism (Roth’s “Rise of the Neuronovel”), brilliant short fiction (Rebecca Curtis’s “Fish Rot”), brilliant memoir (Lawrence Jackson’s “Slickheads”) and a brilliant account of an academic conference devoted to Isaac Babel, featuring the appearance of actual relatives of Isaac Babel (Elif Batuman’s “Babel in California”). The entire anthology is excellent, and though we at MobyLives are disinclined to recommend that you buy books published by anyone other than Melville House (why be disappointed?), Happiness may be the rare exception to an otherwise flawless principle.

However! In the spirit of evenhandedness, we must point out a MAJOR FLAW in n+1’s anthology. Scanning the table of contents, we noticed the absence of perhaps the most important piece of writing published in the magazine’s history, the Fun Party Photo Blog Photo Orgy Blog. For a few glorious days in July 2006, the Fun Party Photo Blog Photo Orgy Blog followed a young blogger named Hampton, who chronicled New York’s fun party photo blog photo orgy blogging scene with flair and irreverence. And while Hampton was later revealed to be the creation of editor Keith Gessen, his adventures live on in the collective memory. It’s a shame that n+1‘s editors chose to omit Hampton’s essential contributions to the magazine from its anthology—thereby whitewashing its own history—but to compensate for their error, we have included an excerpt of his finest work below. Here’s to ten more great years, n+1. But next time, don’t forget about Hampton.

Dear Readers!

You may have noticed, and grown suitably angry, when I didn’t post yesterday. And have been a little spotty in general, let’s face it.

Well, there’s a reason. Fun Party Photo Party Orgy Blog has been receiving a lot of attention, in the blogosphere, for its groundbreaking photo and party-orgy work, and so, well, I’ve been taking meetings. With publishers. Over lunch.

Let me be clear: I did it for you! Now I can bring the dish on the inside of New York’s most premier publishing houses. Here’s how the meetings went:

“Hampton! It’s so good to meet you at last!”

“Thank you.”

“I admit—should I admit this?—I admit I was expecting you to be a little different. More—I don’t know—how much do you weigh?”

“240. 250.”

“Yeah. Geez. I guess I expected someone more—”

“Is your assistant going to eat that?”

Assistant: “Actually I was just—”

“Give it to him.”

“Thank you.”

“So, Hampton. We’ve been—all of us here, isn’t that right?—”

Assistant: “Yes. All of us.”

“We’ve been dying to meet the man behind Fun Party Blog!”

“Fun Party Photo Party Orgy Blog, actually.”

“Yes, Fun Party Photo Blog!”

“Fun Party Photo Party Orgy Blog.”

“Right. That’s what I said.”

“I wish that had been what you said.”

“Hampton, I’m sorry, but can we move on?”

“Yes.”

Mark Krotov was a senior editor at Melville House.

MobyLives