ink-stained wretches

The ‘Observer’ Takes on Phil Gourevitch, Assistant Envy


Phil Gourevitch, mixing stripes with plaid.Photo: Patrick McMullan

In today’s Observer profile about Phil Gourevitch, we learn a few things about the man’s tenure as new editor of the Paris Review. He’s handsome, he’s doing a great job, yadda yadda yadda. But the best thing we learned was about the profile’s author, scribe Doree Shafrir. She is really, really excited about the editorial assistants at the Paris Review under George Plimpton. Here how she waxes poetic, not about Plimpton himself, but about the glamorous lives of his aides and interns:

Some, if not most, of the magazine’s appeal never had anything to do with what was actually in the magazine; it was about the idea of the magazine, the mystique associated with it as a place where young lovers of literature, most of whom were the well-groomed and well-mannered graduates of the nation’s elite colleges, could apprentice for a year, or more, after college, and attend some glamorous parties in exchange for reading through the slush pile.


(The parties now held at the magazine’s office are still the best opportunity for Manhattan’s most promising editorial assistants to brush up against the likes of Salman Rushdie, who was at last week’s soiree for the Fall issue.)


[Plimpton] cultivated a motley crew of interns and “editorial assistants” who were welcome to work for free at his townhouse, many of whom (Mr. Gourevitch’s wife, the New Yorker writer Larissa MacFarquhar, among them) went on to illustrious publishing careers of their own.

We’d tease her, except we’re totally bitter that they never hired us, either.

The Bicycle Thief [NYO]

The ‘Observer’ Takes on Phil Gourevitch, Assistant Envy