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Monday, 21 April 2008

abuse of power comes as no surprise

grantacat
I'll admit it. I'm a closet Granta reader. Have been for ages. Granta calls itself the magazine of new writing. And it is. Except its a book and has very few adverts.

But it always has great content and what makes it interesting is also that there will be a mix of really new writing and some existing well known authors experimenting or providing some form of topical commentary, which can't always directly make it to their fiction for timeliness or experimental reasons.

The Spring 2008 issue landed a couple of days ago and I just opened it to get the endorphic buzz from the very special ink they use which persists aromatically for a few days but is always strongest at the moment of first inspection. I really can be found with my nose buried in a book when Granta arrives.

This copy is also a little different. They have adapted the format ever so slightly. The intriguing thing about Granta's 'look' is that it has always appeared like a capsule from the near future and they continue to make minor styling adjustments to achieve this. The new editor Jason Cowley has also added some very short sections to the front and even a letters page, for feedback. At this rate it will really become a magazine. Not bad from origins back in 1889. They are also about to drop the modern archives into their web site and add some new daily content.

So I'll pick an article or two. First up is one of my heroes, Douglas Coupland (yes, he of Generation X and the amazing "Girlfriend in a coma"). He writes about (Maximum Bob take note) Visual Thinking and how, last summer in Vancouver he attended a screening of the (cult) movie classic "Helvetica". He describes how he wanted to hold a pennant with "Helvetica Neue(T1) 75 Bold" to show his allegiance. That he thinks in Helvetica. That the world has different reading audiences and and he writes for the Mac users - the visual thinkers. That some people get this and the rest don't for they are the PC thinkers. Medium and message melt together.

Or maybe the Paris Intifada, where Andrew Hussey writes about the banlieue outside the boulevards peripheriques which mark the edge zone of Paris and the million immigrants who live in this area, in varied groupings by nationality and religion. The Bagneux zone of Arabs and West Africans and the contrast with the Semite areas of Rancy. Ghosts may walk in the daylight of Paris but I'm not sure that Sarkozy has figured any form of exorcism.

By now I'm around page 50 of 280 and I've only picked quickly at a couple of the articles. There's another about Beijing and their attempts to banish the past in time for the Olympics and Annie Proulx has a short story next to a photo essay about the Arctic.

You'll detect my enthusiasm. Check it out.

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