I usually rely on The Atlantic Monthly (alongside any New Yorker issue featuring Sy Hersh) for most of my long-form news. This month, The Atlantic Monthly featured an article discussing political talk radio in America written by David Foster Wallace. One would think a respectable political rag like The Atlantic Monthly would have better judgment than to work with this poster child for pretension, but hey, the magazine biz is tough these days I guess. They gambled instead to capitalize on his gimmickry.
Evidently, in order to accommodate his “writing style,” the layout department at The Atlantic Monthly decided to place his footnotes in easy-to-read color-coded boxes. The end result is the King of Self-Indulgence’s pinnacle achievement. The only thing not pretentious about the article is its ironically succinct title: “Host.”
The 23 page article includes:
(a staggering and heartburning number)
Footnote contents include:
1. A footnote about how bananas are good for ulcers.
2. A footnoted “!?” to add emphasis.
3. Over 15 tons of self-indulgent pseudo-academic English major sludge.
4. Footnoted editorial corrections made by the author.
5. A self-effacing footnote where Wallace questions his own interviewing skills.
6. Dozens of footnoted descriptive phrases which could have easily been included in the body of the article. (example: begin footnote “who really is a gifted mimic” end footnote)
I enjoy reading the well-written sausage party known as The Atlantic Monthly (this issue features ZERO women writers, again, in the main political sections). But for Christ’s sake, most of your readership has already graduated from college. We don’t want to read this Creative Writing 101 BS. Stick to journalism.