What Am I Doing Here?
I said I wouldn’t start a Substack. I said that while I liked the freedom of Substack and have had several friends and acquaintances do well on the platform, I have always preferred to be part of something larger—to use Prufrock to add to the books and arts coverage of already established magazines, like the excellent but now shuttered Weekly Standard, The American Conservative, and Spectator World.
Hitching the email to larger publications was also a way of keeping it free for nearly 10 years. Serious books and arts are a minority interest, so let’s keep the barrier to entry low, I thought, to make it maybe a little less of a minority interest.
Already back in 2013, when I started the email newsletter, the most interesting writers and intriguing ideas were being ignored or dismissed by the national press and formerly serious literary magazines, who had begun pandering to a narrow audience obsessed with identity politics. I wanted to do something about that, even in a small way, to tell whoever was interested that there were novelists and poets still worth reading and honest criticism still being written. The email was—and still is, I hope—a service both to readers and publications that refused to politicize everything.
An email newsletter requires a tremendous amount of time—especially a daily one, which Prufrock has been for most of those nearly ten years—and I am thankful to the publications that made it possible to keep Prufrock free for readers. They, too, did it, at least in part, as a service to you.
But it’s time to go to a simpler model, which is why I am moving to Substack. Emails will be sent every Wednesday and Saturday and include all the usual stuff, but with a slightly larger selection of links. I plan to bring “Reader Recommended” lists back, so keep an eye out for those.
If you like Prufrock and get something from reading it, you can subscribe for $5 a month or $50 a year. If you want Prufrock to grow—perhaps into its own stand-alone publication with reviews and podcasts and more—or if you just want to support the newsletter, you can also sign up as a “Founding Member”:
As always, I love getting links from readers, so please send me your suggestions at email@example.com. Thanks for reading!
I understand that you should be paid for your work. So should Bari Weiss, Glenn Greenwald, Matt Taibbi, Andrew Sullivan, and dozens, if not hundreds, of other writers. But think of the reader. It would be expensive for me to pay $5/mo or $50/year for each of the several writers I like to read. I would love to see some sort of subscription deal at Substack that would let a reader pay, say, $15/mo or $150/year to read x articles from Substack authors. Kinda like the old days, when you could read a whole lot of good stuff by subscribing to two or three magazines.