In the Introduction Adam Moss is worried about magazine-journalism in the age of the internet. There are many other kinds of journals around: short and medium-form written articles, photo-journalism, Twitter, Instagram etc. – it’s a question if magazine writing even exist in 2019. The book tries to prove that it does, and it’s a great collection of long-form articles from American journals.
The selected topics are about economy, politics, wars, #metoo, black guys in prison, etc., which is OK, but I’m not equally interested in all of these. In general, I found the first half of the book more interesting than the second.
First, A Kingdom from Dust is about a billionaire couple, who made a fortune by growing fruits in California with Mexican workers, and there’s an interesting twist about the water they used in the orchards. Shallow Graves is the actual best article in the book: I wasn’t aware of the situation in Iraq after ISIS. It’s a deep and moving article about the fate of the people, who remained in cities, which were occupied before by the Islamic State – and now they have to face the revenge of Iraq. The Genocide the U.S. Didn’t See Coming is about the rohingyas – again an important topic and a pretty good item.
There’s a National Geographic article about plastics – I’m not a huge fan of NG, nor this article is dramatic enough. The First Porn President, and changes is racism, mandatory subjects in 2019, but it seems the editor selected the most important topics instead of the best articles…
At the end, I enjoyed the prison-stories, but I wasn’t interested how can I die the best way in Columbia. Lionfishes and a Breakup Museum in Zagreb – a big step from the shallow graves, and at last a fictional story about a society, where non-married woman has to be naked on the street.
I don’t think these were the best magazine articles from the last year, but it’s a very good selection with important topics and interesting articles. Magazine journalism is definitely alive, and this book is a good source to see which journals I may read regularly.
Sid Holt (editor): The Best American Magazine Writing 2019
Columbia University Press, 2019.
I got an advanced copy through Netgalley