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the Spectator vs. the New Yorker review
I used to have quite a jet-seeting lifestyle: study art in an English university and then fly home to Finland on holidays. Suffice to say, I wish I'd been on some kind of a frequent flyer -programme. I flew a lot. So I got good at flying: getting to the airport, making my bag not overweight, going through security, and waiting. Waiting is key to flying, an my key to flying became The New Yorker
. So I have during my flight read a number of select issues of The New Yorker
, and I've found it to be thoroughly enjoyable. The first reason I picked it up when I saw it was my fascination with Harpo Marx and all his cool friends, who ran the cool people show in New York in the Roaring Twenties. And if I've understood correctly, his cool friends started the magazine. So I feelreally cool and relaxed (=he perfect mental state when experiencing delay) when I read The New Yorker
. Content-wise it could be identified as liberal (though the magazine itself wouldn't say so), and it tends to have interesting, deep articles about current affairs, quite a bit on culture (reviews etc), opinons/letters from readers, entertaining columns and essays, and also quite a bit of stories and poettry. It is also noteworthy how there is a number of caricatures or other one-panel funnies spread throughout the pages, and generally the magasine tends to be illustrated by drawings rather than photographs.
The Spectator seems to be the older British version of the same, with less short stories (perhaps - I seem to have picked up the fine arts issue so that might be why). So I should love it, right? And it is good, not going to lie, but... It's different. It makes me feel different. While The New Yorker feels cool and chic and bohemian, The Spectator feels busy and irritated, snobby, and even stressed. Why the difference? And why should such a passionate anglophile as I not like The Spectator? I'm totally willing to admit that my reaction could be 100% circumstantial (flying home from a mission instead of art school, not having flown in 18 months nor having read any news during that time either, having my parents with me...) So it could have just been some strange sensitivity at work in my inner workings. Nevertheless, my initial reaction was somewhat negative.
There were a number of things I did thoroughly enjoy about The Spectator: "Portrait of the Week" is a 1-page article that mentions in a jumble of sentences everything that happened that week (-> a super-interesting, choppy piece of literature that leaves you guessing, but also partially well-educated - plus it's a great conversation-starter). I also really liked the non-apologetic no-BS attitude of the entire magasine. The articles were all of fair quality - what I mean by this that topics that were less-familiar to me were not too much over my head, and topics I'm an expert in were not too simple and plebian.
So why did I pick up The Spectator instead of The New Yorker? Simply because The New Yorker was not available. Am I going to do it again, if they are both available? This is a tough question. I like the tone and the less-hurried pace of The New Yorker but obviously The Spectator speaks more about things that are closer to home to me. Spo I'll just have to let the situation decide, and if I am facing a choice between the two, I'll have to let the cover headlines convince me this way or that. After all it was the cover-headline "Mormon power" that sold The Spectator to me this time (Philip Delves Broughton's article "Mormons on the March" where he discusses why the Latter-day Saints make perfect politicians: http://www.spectator.co.uk/essays/all/6745813/mormons-on-the-march.thtml ) :P So easy can it be sometimes. Had I not seen it, I would probably had left it at the stand. Now thanks to it I have yet another tough choice to make in my life, and all the better for it.
Maybe I will have a look at both their online-presence, and see what kind of services they provide on their websites. Until then, I'll heartily recommend one and all to pick up a copy of either The New Yorker or the The Spectator some time and give it a browse.
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