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Linda Wells on the Evolution of Magnificence Journalism


That occurred quite a bit at Attract too. We misplaced promoting. And [then Condé Nast chairman] Si Newhouse, who was such an enormous supporter by means of the entire start and institution of Attract, was identical to, “You show those advertisers that you’re independent and you’re making these decisions.” And the advertisers at all times got here again.

Attract: Who introduced you in to edit Attract?

Wells: Alex Liberman [then Condé Nast editorial director] wished to have lunch at La Grenouille, which was like, “Oh, okay. Why don’t we just take out an ad in the Times?” I used to be like, “Maybe we should just have lunch at an office somewhere?” After I received to Alex’s workplace, Si [Newhouse] was there too. They simply stated one thing so easy: “We want to start a beauty magazine. Will you be the editor?” I stated, “I have to think about it,” as a result of I simply could not even think about. My solely request of them was that, if it’s going to be journalistic, we’ve got to be freed from promoting constraints. We now have to have the ability to actually query what the advertisers are doing and saying. They usually stated completely wonderful.

I wished to make use of magnificence as a method of analyzing our tradition, to consider magnificence as greater than one thing superficial, to consider the emotional facet of magnificence. I wished there to be a sort of literary high quality too. So we received these superb writers. It was such a sort of child’s fantasy. I imply, additionally we had a pleasant batch of cash to spend on these items. It was the ’90s. We may get nearly anyone to write down for us. I might learn one thing I appreciated and we’d name the author. We had Edna O’Brien, Jhumpa Lahiri, Mary Karr, Dorothy Allison, Edwidge Danticat, Arthur Miller. Frank McCourt, who wrote Angela’s Ashes — I learn it in galley, and I used to be like, “We’ve got to get him to write for us.” We went out for a three-hour lunch, gave him a complete bunch of merchandise for his spouse, and that was it.

Picture by way of Getty

Mary Turner, an editor at Attract, and I wished John Updike to write down for the journal, and we’d ship him letters, precise letters within the mail, with story concepts. He at all times wrote us again with a typed word, on these pre-stamped playing cards that you simply’d purchase on the submit workplace, saying in well mannered however barely humiliating methods, no. Mary and I might cringe for a second and transfer on. At some point, I learn someplace that he had psoriasis and handled it by spending hours within the solar. So Mary wrote to him and requested if he’d write a bit about it. Weeks later, a manila envelope arrived with a manuscript. We had no contract, we hadn’t given him a price. It simply confirmed up on the workplace like a gift. We referred to as the piece “The Prodigal Sun.”



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