n-1

I’ve read eleven of the thirteen print issues of n+1 cover-to-cover, and for the most part I’m glad I did. But if you already suspect that n+1 is a magazine with its head up its own ass, you can cite the current issue as evidence. Keith Gessen and Benjamin Kunkel peel off a few pages from their works-in-progress (a translation of an essay on Russian poetry, and a play about a Benjamin Kunkel type, respectively), the editorial staff goes gaga for Occupy Wall Street (“Everything felt so real at that moment—our position within this greater structure thrown into ecstatic relief.”), and, in true n+1 fashion, a series of aspirants and outsiders, who seem to believe that a first-rate undergraduate education is all the intellectual preparation one needs in order to master the universe, offer dry remarks on high culture, their voices wet with envy. This issue contains an essay by James Franco that wasn’t even written by James Franco. The would-be saving grace is a piece by associate editor Christopher Glazek that synthesizes much of the recent literature on the prison crisis in the United States, and argues for the abolishment of our entire system. But there is much better stuff being published directly on n+1’s web site, which perhaps confirms that n+1 has become more of a brand than a magazine.

– Brian Hurley

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