In Conversation: Robert Silvers

Mark Danner | New York magazine | April 2013 | 28 minutes (7,063 words)

Nicholas Jackson is the digital director at Pacific Standard, and a former digital editor at Outside and The Atlantic.

These year-end lists tend to be like the Academy Awards in that only work released during the last couple of months of the year are remembered well enough to make the cut. That’s a good thing. Sure, I’d like to recall every great quotation I read in 2013, every delightful turn of phrase. But it’s better that I can’t. It means, like movies, that there’s more work I would consider worthy of my time being produced than I could possibly make time for, and plenty that I did make the time for that’s already been displaced in my mind by just the latest of the hundreds of stories I read this year. So, I cheated. I went back through some archives to jog my memory and pulled up this comprehensive interview with Bob Silvers to mark the 50th anniversary of The New York Review of Books. Silvers has had his hands on several big pieces this past year (must-read stories by Zadie Smith and Nathaniel Rich; something about the favelas of Brazil; I vaguely recall an Oliver Sacks essay on, of course, memory), but ask any editor and I bet most would tell you that he’s influenced every piece on these round-ups … and any others you’ve read over the past five decades. This is a story about stories: How we make them, and why.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons