Esquire Redeemed by Tom Chiarella Hire?

Last year, I cancelled my subscription to Esquire after the magazine ran an egregious Thomas P.M. Barnett article that, without irony, played Rumsfeld up as a man’s man that you could hang out with. The article was devoid of a single whit of criticism. It was dishonest journalism and I had figured that the magazine was beyond hope, committed towards being more of a mainstream mouthpiece than a place for ideas.

But maybe, just maybe, the recent hiring of Tom Chiarella as fiction editor might be enough for me to resubscribe to the magazine. Not only is Esquire doubling up its fiction, but the November issue features a piece by LBC winner Michael Martone.

It’s reassuring to see Chiarella embrace the magazine’s long legacy of publishing short stories from the likes of Donald Barthelme, Stanley Elkin, Tim O’Brien and Barry Targan. Let us hope that this represents a sign that Esquire EIC David Granger is committed to some shadow of the daring fiction and journalism that Esquire was known for in the 1960s. Perhaps the time has come to give the magazine another chance.

(via Galleycat)


  1. I like Tom but I find him a little heavy on the aging frat-boy Viagra stuff. I thought Martone read like good Chiarella. I hope that he looks beyond his own horizons now…

  2. For Esquire, it would be a long way back from ignominy. In the 40s and 50s they wanted to be a standard for the smarter man (with an eye for the ladies) and they succeeded. Predictably, the magazine was comfortably racist and sexist.

    In the 1960s they discovered radical politics and got sharp and cynical and still had an eye for the ladies (now called women). Also became avowedly non-racist. Up until the 1980s they retained a semblance of sharper wit and smarter looks.

    I cannot fathom how they’ve survived since. Currently there is nothing whatever to distinguish the book either in size, form, content, POV, anything at all, from a dozen other middling, craven glossies that crowd the newsstand.

    Wishing them well, I have grave doubts.

  3. Looking back from two years, now the flap over the Heath Ledger “reported fiction” we see how clearly Esquire’s day is done. It’s only hope would have been to toss off all the baggage from 1960s forwrad, go back to the classic day of the 30s, 40s, 50s, which was when the most intelligent writing was done. They ran poetry. They ran great fiction. Today, it’s just crude. There’s nothing good about it, really. I wish it either went back to the Arnold Gingrich days or just folded up for good.

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