“It’s an earnest effort,” he said, adding that the magazine has tried to tackle fiction using a nonfiction playbook before. “We’ve been trying to assign fiction,” he said, “to make it topical, relevant. To go to writers with a headline or an idea.”
From what I know of the magazine, this is a path they’ve been riding down in a very real way for more than a year and, I think, is cool and promising for young fiction writers that like Esquire’s style. I enjoy magazines that are willing to push boundaries (as long as they clearly label their efforts) and yes, I love Esquire. I might not always love everything they put in there, but I enjoy the creative efforts put forth. All I’m saying is that if Esquire wanted to casually date me, I would consider it. But telling you this is, of course, just an excuse to mention something about Esquire that is relevant to my own life. (If you’re keeping track at home, I’ve now said the word Esquire 9 times in two paragraphs. Eat that, Lit Classes!)
Several months ago, I spoke to (name drop!) Tom Chiarella, the Esquire fiction editor, when I was writing a profile of the writer James Boice, whose fiction first appeared in the pages of Esquire and closely resembled a fictional account of the Kobe Bryant rape accusations from several years ago, and he reiterated this push for relevant “urgent” fiction. Chiarella seems like one of those great editors who knows a lot about writing, life, and clever things to claim on your tax returns, but lacks the monstrous ego that you normally associate with people in those positions of power. We talked for over an hour about the magazine and good fiction and he’d also stated that they were looking for fresh, new voices for fiction and asked if there was anyone up in Boston that he should be checking out.
Of course, I recognized this as my “chance”, this fluid, seminal moment of connection when a spot opens up and you have a window of opportunity to both show and tell, and that later on in life, after I was demanding 20 K for guest speaking fees and had my own live-in hairdresser/masseuse, I would look back on this moment with a bit of nostalgia as I was getting my sideburns evened out, but, alas, it was not to be so. My only short story– something about dating a reality star while living in Zurich and pretending to be a travel writer– needs at least eleven more drafts to be acceptable. So I said I would think about it, asked him if he liked Sam Lipsyte, and then we hung up. Then I think I (internally) cried at my explicit dropping of the ball and proceeded to eat several blueberry Ego Waffles with (NON) low calorie Mrs. Buttersworth AND real butter. Obviously, I’m totally over it.
Anyway, I don’t really remember what we were talking about. I’m overcome with emotions. Enjoy your weekend. I’m now going to wallow in self-pity until tomorrow night when I wallow in guacamole at my favorite Mexican restaurant.
I will never stop loving the songs of 1998.