Next Week|In The New Yorker

     Surely the most prestigious, best-paying weekly publisher of fiction in the world could find an editor who can distinguish interesting literature from crap.
     Not just pretentious crap, but pointless crap. I know, I know. I am asking for too much. I will settle, then, if David Remnick passes this memo around the office.
     1. It is no longer compulsory to use the word frisson in a New Yorker story. We have perfectly good words in English that mean the same thing. Henceforth and forevermore, a manuscript containing the word frisson shall be returned to the author, who shall replace frisson with an English word, and the story will be rejected.
     2. Same goes for the words moue and soupçon. They are no longer obligatory in a New Yorker story.
     3. Also, weltanschauung and weltschmerz. Not needed, old boys. The English language was good enough for mom and dad and it’s good enough for you. Also, susurration. While susurration is, technically, an English word, it is not necessary to use it in every other story. First writer to use it each year wins. But after that, please, no more susurrations.
     4. Stories shall begin somewhere, lead somewhere and end somewhere. They need not begin at the beginning nor end at the ending, but the story must repay, in one form or another, the effort and time spent in reading it.
     5. Stories shall not be published if their point is to mention cool products, trendy restaurants and clothesmakers – excuse me, fashion designers – whose products only the cool people know about, until the uncool people read the story. Stories like this are called advertising. They belong in the advertising section. What’s more, people who write stories like this will pay The New Yorker to print them; The New Yorker does not have to pay for these stories.
     6. Moving on to the movie reviews. First off, it’s OK to call them movies, instead of films, or cinema.
     7. At some point in every movie review, the critic shall inform the reader whether the critic thinks it’s a good idea to go to the movie, or not.
     8. If the critic wishes to muse ruefully upon the sad decline of the lesbian albino film community in Albania, that’s fine. But at some point in the goddamn movie review, the critic shall inform us whether he thinks it’s a good idea to go see the movie. Or not.
     9. The word auteur shall be prohibited.
     10. As for popular music criticism, the critic shall understand that the topic is not one of high seriousness, and that the ditties churned out by the latest drum-bangers and guitar-whompers are not of comparable import to nuclear disarmament, global epidemics or economic catastrophe. The critic shall be made to understand that the products these people turn out are called tunes, and the critic shall inform us, without referring to the tunes of other, even more obscure bands, whether the tunes that form the ostensible subject of this week’s review are worth listening to, or not.
     11. The popular music critic shall understand that no critic of popular music has ever been thrown in jail, or deprived of sustenance, or beaten, for occasionally using a bit of humor or briskness in a review. The popular music critic shall understand that if this ever did happen, it was in the old Soviet Union, or in Ceausescu’s Romania, but the people who did that are dead, dead, dead.
     12. Before writing each review, the popular music critic shall read the review he wrote for the issue published two years ago, and the issue published one year ago, and he shall ask himself the question: Where are these bands now? The critic shall bear this question, and the answers, in mind when he writes his next review, in the hope that, by pondering this question, he shall come to understand that it’s just a rock and roll band, and just a music review.

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