Former New Yorker writer Dan Baum’s account of his 2007 termination from The New Yorker, which he has been tweeting as part of the promotion for his book, Nine: Death and Life in New Orleans, is kind of anticlimactic — we just found out that his contract wasn’t renewed for a pretty mundane set of reasons. But it’s still pretty fun to read, even in backwards chunklets, in part because of the Devil Wears Prada glimpse into the House of Remnick.
For instance, here is his description of the office in the Condé Nast building:
the office itself is a little creepy. I didn’t work there. I live in Colorado. But I’d visit 3-4X a year. Everybody whispers. It’s not exactly like being in a library; it’s more like being in a hospital room where somebody is dying. Like someone’s dying, and everybody feels a little guilty about it. There’s a weird tension to the place. If you raise your voice to normal level, heads pop up from cubicles. And from around the stacks of review copies that lie everywhere like a graveyard of writers’ aspirations. It always seemed strange. Making it to the New Yorker is an acheivement [sic]. It is vastly prestigious, of course. And the work is truly satisfying. Imagine putting out that magazine every week! Yet nobody at the office seems very happy. The atmosphere is vastly strained.
He’s being kind of careful—political, we think—in that he’s not revealing the true secret of the New Yorker office, which is that, the second anyone walks in there, they turn into cartoons.
Dan Baum [danielsbaum/Twitter]