The Atlantic, December 2012
Much talk transpired in the just-over election here in the U.S. about jobs, and James Fallows and Charles Fishman take up the post-election slack in this issue. Manufacturing jobs are returning to the U.S. for a handful of reasons, say these two. One being that the haul distance between raw materials and manufacturing plants has gotten long – and expensive. Too, there’s a lot lost in such outsourcing: inventiveness and efficiency. Jobs were originally outsourced largely for a single reason: lower pay for workers located elsewhere. But having the whole ball of wax near enough to home base more than makes up for the ensuing complications. And just to prove the point, I notice that Apple is moving some manufacturing back to the U.S.
Poor Jeffrey Goldberg. He can’t buy respect without taking on some Archie Bunker-like political positions. In this case that we’d be safer if everyone had more (and supposedly, even more) guns.
Another bit of election year fallout is the renewed social and political clout of women. Alexis Madrigal thinks women are at the technological forefront, that they use and adapt to technology quicker than men. And Ann Patchett, who some might see as a throwback after reading her article, The Bookstore Strikes Back, chronicles her attempts to bring indie bookstores back to her Nashville hometown.
It’s great that The Atlantic has begun to print regular fiction again, and it’s interesting that the editors seem to be favoring genre writers such as Walter Mosley, who has a story, Reply To A Dead Man, in this issue. I’ve been rather disappointed in this tack, since I’ve been expecting quality, readable literary fiction, but I certainly can’t quibble with giving U.S.-based writers their shot at such a magazine, even if they are genre writers. Mosley’s story seems a bit predictable, but it’s also a heart-warmer, and I guess that’s a good thing in this year-ending issue.
Altogether a stalwart, if not exceptional issue. But The Atlantic does seem to be learning some of the lessons I’ve been saying they should from Harper’s Monthly.