Boycott the New Yorker Festival…

October 3, 2007 | 3 2 min read

…is what I will again be forced to do this year, my darling, barring some eleventh-hour issuing of press credentials or a sudden reduction in ticket prices.

For a while now, you – the greatest magazine in the history of American magazines – have tantalized me annually with your Festival’s smorgasbord of literary talent. And yet, as much as the word-hungry reader in me would love to see, e.g., Lorrie Moore in conversation with Jeffrey Eugenides, the starving artist in me rebels.

To be frank, your $25 cover charges cheapen you, New Yorker. After all, in this city which not to look upon would be like death, any given night already offers the discerning gentleman a bevy of comely talent reading for no charge. A nd then, several times per year, events like the PEN World Voices festival present stimulating citywide literary programming for free or at a nominal price.

Indeed, with the notable exception of events like your dance party or your gastronomic tour with Calvin Trillin, your Festival strikes this correspondent as a way of charging the public for a publicity junket. And, at current ticket prices, the Festival highlights your worst feature, dearest: your habit of reaffirming the upper class’s satisfaction with its own refined sensibility and unimpeachable taste. I mean, who else can afford to get in the door?

New Yorker, don’t you know you’re at your best when you’re challenging the status quo from your perch within it? Wouldn’t it be subversive to take Conde Nast’s money and put on these readings for free, so that any old philistine could attend? I love you, New Yorker, more than you’ll probably ever know, but I can’t support your Festival. I can’t afford to. Why would I buy your cow when I can enjoy your milk for the low, low price of $52 per year?

is the author of City on Fire and A Field Guide to the North American Family. In 2017, he was named one of Granta's Best Young American Novelists.


  1. I too love the New Yorker and won't be attending the Festival either. However, chances are, our beloved magazine, like all print publications, has come upon difficult times. Believe it or not, and I don't have access to their books, but I really suspect that they NEED THE MONEY. When everyone happily reads from the web for free, when subway riders grab Metro and AM for free, all those newspapers, journals and magazines, even our most cherished, will unfortunately find themselves to be a part of history. For that matter, what will happen to our newsstands? Oh well, I guess candy and lotto tickets will never go out of fashion.

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