New editor subtly polishes up Paris Review

Peter Carlson in the Los Angeles Times:

When Plimpton died, the literary world wondered: What will happen to the Paris Review?

Now we know the answer. It has gotten even better.

GourevitchIn March 2005, the magazine’s board hired a new editor: Philip Gourevitch, a New Yorker staff writer and the author of an excellent nonfiction book on the Rwanda genocide, “We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families.”

“My mission was to revitalize the magazine, to give it new life for a new generation,” says Gourevitch, 44, by phone from the Review’s office in New York. “We want to be fresh. We want to be surprising.”

No fool, Gourevitch did not mess with the magazine’s successful formula. He still publishes good stories and poems by obscure writers and excellent interviews with famous writers, including Joan Didion and Rushdie.

But he did make some changes. First, he reshaped the magazine: “It’s a little taller and leaner than it used to be,” he says. He also began running a gallery of photographs in each issue. Best of all, he added a feature he calls Encounter, a short Q&A with interesting, obscure people.

One Encounter was an interview with a professional mourner in China.

More here.