Is Harper's worth subscribing to, again?
March 14, 2011 9:45 PM   Subscribe

Is Harper's (the magazine) worth subscribing to, again? For a while after Laptham left, I'd open my monthly envelope and leaf through pages of boredom and disappointment and too many articles on US politics, and eventually, I had to let my subscription lapse. The recent news that Zadie Smith is reviewing books makes me wonder: what is the character of Harper's like nowadays? Thanks.
posted by surenoproblem to Media & Arts (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
All of their current and past articles are available online. Contact me if you'd like me to give you my login credentials temporarily so you can check it out yourself (as long as you promise not to change the delivery address).
posted by halogen at 10:01 PM on March 14, 2011

This doesn't answer the question you're asking but may possibly be very relevant to your interests, provided it's actually news: Lewis Lapham's (not very new) venture is Lapham's Quarterly. I've read two issues and was thoroughly impressed with both. Whether or not you decide to renew your subscription to Harper's, I enthusiastically encourage you to pick up an issue.
posted by girlstyle at 10:06 PM on March 14, 2011

I'd say so, although the unashamedly leftist politics is one of the main attractions for me.
posted by lukemeister at 10:14 PM on March 14, 2011

I've been a subscriber since 2003, and I still greatly enjoy the magazine. I really haven't noticed that much of a difference in terms of content from when Lapham was at the helm, although any change might have taken place so slowly that I just adjusted to it as it happened. The only really big change that I've noticed the past few years is that the magazine has shrunk a bit (used to regularly hit 96-100 pages, now is more usually 80-84), but that's more a function of the current economy - the New Yorker has experienced a similar drop in length.

Frankly, I never really like Lapham's Notebook - it always seemed like he was holding a contest with himself to see how much allegory or how many allusions he could cram into three pages without really saying anything about what he was writing about beyond the allusions and allegories. I liked the rotating cast of Notebookers that they had for a while; I'm not sure if really enjoy reading a screed by Thomas Frank every month.

Thankfully, Lapham is now publishing an annotated version of Notebook, wherein he makes his reference-laden essay at the beginning, and then fills the other 216 pages of the magazine with the material he alludes to - it's called Lapham's Quarterly. There's no new content produced for any one issue, so if you're fairly well-read you'll have already seen quite a few things somewhere else.
posted by LionIndex at 10:16 PM on March 14, 2011

Not sure how this will affect content -- though I can't imagine how it won't -- but things are really, really troubled in the Harper's offices at the moment.
posted by neroli at 10:26 PM on March 14, 2011

I can't speak to the content, but as neroli noted, from an organizational standpoint the place is a shitshow. Tons and tons of good people are leaving, and even if they've brought in great talents and manage to keep them, I have to imagine the office chaos and company drama is going to affect the published product sometime, if it hasn't already.
posted by anildash at 10:54 PM on March 14, 2011

It seems like it's gotten more ponderous in the last couple of years, and their science writing is unreliable. We're still subscribing, though.
posted by lakeroon at 8:32 AM on March 15, 2011

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