In praise of little magazines

Night and Day is relaunched.

Night and Day, a literary magazine founded and run by Graham Greene in the early 20th century, survived for six months. The fact that it is remembered at all is testament to the extraordinary hold that small magazines are capable of exerting on the memories of publishers and writers alike. It's odd, after all, that a publication that wobbled into existence so briefly should prompt two 21st-century publishers to declare that they intend to relaunch it "to celebrate our imprints' rich and illustrious history"; to "bring forth... the vagaries of publishing life and an enviable slice of literary heritage".

But what is this history, and why is it worth celebrating?

The pedigree of the magazine, in its original form, is undeniable. It carried articles, comment and fiction by Louis MacNeice, William Plomer and Herbert Read; Evelyn Waugh, Elizabeth Bowen and Cyril Connolly. Yet what the magazine is most famous for is its explosive end at the hand of its editor. Naughty Greene wrote the review that brought the law knocking on the door with charges of criminal libel underarm. Shirley Temple, the child star of a new film called Wee Willie Winkie, was alleged to be a figure of the "dubious coquetry" and "dimpled depravity". Serious charges indeed. MGM tried to sue, Chatto & Windus were forced to discontinue publication, and Greene was never to forgive the dastardly WH Smith, who refused to have the infamous issue on their stand.

The opening pages of a relaunched Night and Day carry a statement of their predecessor's aim -- to showcase "a wealth of talent, invigilating over a mad world". The sentiment is noticeably wilder than the staid words of the magazine's current publishers -- and the thought of Greene and Waugh as "invigilators" is a delicious one.

The question remains: Night and Day is "hoping to establish itself once more as an irreverent but relevant literary magazine", but can literary magazines be both irreverent and relevant, or do the words just sound pretty in tandem? Parisa Ebrahimi and Tom Avery, of Chatto & Windus and Jonathan Cape respectively, are presumably not "celebrating" the loose-cannoned ways of their magazine's glory months -- they've tempered such tendencies with "heritage" and "publishing life". And this is no bad thing. Their first edition bears a stable mix of the writerly and the publishy, has a warming little picture of a beaming Jonathan Cape on the back and rides on a self-proclaimed relevance.

Perhaps such magazines are best left to be run by publishers. Writers don't seem to have done very well. Emerson's late 19th-century Dial ("Let it be one cheerful rational voice amidst the din of mourners and polemics", he declaimed, in what I imagine to be a threateningly delighted manner), didn't last very long under his leadership. Its revival in the 20th century saw it carry the first publication of T S Eliot's The Waste Land in the US, as well as Yeats's "The Second Coming". Eventually, Marianne Moore took to somewhere near the helm (she was managing editor), and the ship obediently sunk.

Likewise, Athenaeum, also now dead, didn't really begin to do well until an academic took the lead. Earlier days saw its chief poetry critic, Theodore Watts-Dunton, take it upon himself to look after notorious poet Algernon Swinburne in his Putney residence. An otherwise decent man, Watts-Dunton is occasionally criticized for hindering Swinburne's progress on an erotic sadomasochistic novel.

The Criterion, meanwhile, remains the most famous example of a literary magazine run by a poet and making a success of itself, even amid the arguments between Eliot, Middleton-Murray, Mansfield and Lady Rothermere -- there's an excellent account of these covert literary bitchings in a recent piece in the London Review of Books, and the letters between the four have recently been published. It must be remembered, however, that Eliot was not just a poet, but a senior publisher with Faber.

Night and Day might just have found its solution.

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Why a Keeping Up with the Kardashians cartoon would make genuinely brilliant TV

The Kardashians are their own greatest satirists.

You’ve seen Keeping Up with the Kardashians, Kourtney and Kim Take Kyoto, and Kylie and Kendall Klarify Kommunications Kontracts, but the latest Kardashian show might take a step away from reality. Yes, Kartoon Kardashians could be on the way. According to TMZ, an animated cartoon is the next Kardashian television property we can expect: the gossip website reports that Kris Jenner saw Harvey Weinstein’s L.A. production company earlier this month for a pitch meeting.

It’s easy to imagine the dramas the animated counterparts of the Kardashians might have: arguments over who gets the last clear plastic salad bowl? Moral dilemmas over whether or not to wear something other than Balenciaga to a high profile fashion event? Outrage over the perceived betrayals committed by their artisanal baker?

If this gives you déjà vu, it might be because of a video that went viral over a year ago made using The Sims: a blisteringly accurate parody of Keeping Up with the Kardashians that sees the three sisters have a melodramatic argument about soda.

It’s hysterical because it clings onto the characteristics of the show: scenes opening with utter banalities, sudden dramatic music coinciding with close-ups of each family member’s expressions, a bizarre number of shots of people who aren’t speaking, present tense confessionals, Kim’s ability to do an emotional 0-60, and Kourtney’s monotonous delivery.

But if the Kardashians, both as a reality TV show and celebrity figures, are ripe for ridicule, no one is more aware of it than the family themselves. They’ve shared teasing memes and posted their own self-referential jokes on their social channels, while Kim’s Kimoji app turned mocking viral pictures into self-depreciating in-jokes for her fans. And the show itself has a level of self-awareness often misinterpreted as earnestness - how else could this moment of pure cinema have made it to screen?

The Kardashians are their own greatest satirists, and they’ve perfected the art of making fun of themselves before anyone else can. So there’s a good chance that this new cartoon won’t be a million miles away from “Soda Drama”. It might even be brilliant.

Anna Leszkiewicz is a pop culture writer at the New Statesman.