The New York Review of Books was founded during a newspaper strike in 1963 and was edited by Barbara Epstein and Robert Silvers until her death in 2006, then edited solely by Silvers until he died earlier this year. Throughout its existence, it’s been the object of obsequious praise. I never got it. From the time I was in college, wandering the aisles of the library’s periodicals section and excitedly perusing one literary journal after another, I couldn’t work up any enthusiasm for the NYRB. It somehow managed to make everything dull: with few exceptions (Gore Vidal, Joan Didion), the articles all read as if they were written by some fusty old Oxbridge don who was also what the Brits call a champagne socialist.
Tom Wolfe, in his famous 1970 essay “Radical Chic,” called the NYRB “[t]he chief theoretical organ of Radical Chic.”