“The Curse of Tom Wolfe”
This 2002 Columbia Journalism Review piece on the state of magazine writing—”The Curse of Tom Wolfe: What went wrong for the magazine story,” by Michael Shapiro—has been big conversation in my writing group this week. Magazine writing has become so predictable, so BORING, Shapiro argued.
He described his disappointment after reading National Magazine Award entries as one of the preliminary judges: “The collective reaction to those pieces reinforced what I had come to see as a disquieting trend in the magazine trade: a dullness, a numbing predictability, a growing sense of stories crafted less with a desire for greatness than with an eye for avoiding mistakes.
“Over the years I had heard the same complaint from others, and not just from my over-forty crowd: magazines were a bore. At the end of the day, at the grown-up version of “story time,” people found themselves reaching not for a magazine, but for a book. The reaction was more one of disappointment than anger, as is often the case when change occurs so gradually that it is difficult to recall a particular moment when things began to shift.”
The piece ran nearly 10 years ago. We can think of obvious exceptions but does the essence of the argument stand?
Read the rest here…