Whitney Mallett, The Whitney Review of New Writing
As well as being engaged in multiple writing projects for other publishers, New York-based Canadian writer Whitney Mallett launched The Whitney Review of New Writing last year.
As Whitney explains, ‘At some point I thought maybe all this experience was preparing me for a corporate media job, but I’ve realized I’d rather be doing this with my own magazine.’
Immediately striking for its large format and text-only layouts, the second issue of The Whitney Review has just been published.
What are you doing this morning?
I’m trying to drink water before I do anything else because this doctor who may or may not be a scam artist told me I might have parasites. He also told me to drink water every 30 minutes and that can’t be bad advice.
Alongside this hydration plan, I’m planning assignments for the third issue. Organizing who is writing what in the spreadsheets. Later I’ll go take some orders of our latest issue to the post office. There’s a galley of a book I’ve been waiting for that was supposed to arrive Thursday but UPS has been letting me down. I personally never choose them as a mail carrier but they unfortunately seem to be the preferred choice for conglomerate publishing houses of America.
Describe your working environment
I have a desk in the bedroom I share with my partner. It’s not a very big desk and the printer takes up most of it. It’s less a workstation and more a site where I pile books and envelopes and boxes of issues. Then I tend to work on my laptop on the kitchen counter or in bed.
Out the bedroom window is an industrial mail facility. Out the kitchen window is the cement wall of a new condo. Sometimes I also go into the office share where my bestie and associate publisher Michael Bullock works. There's a view of the fab beaux-arts Nine Orchard hotel there.
Which magazine do you first remember?
Girls Life. I had a subscription and I loved the advice column. It was real. I remember a reader wrote in about her dad touching her friends’ butts.
Felix Burrichter, founder of Pin-Up, with Whitney Mallett at the launch party for issue two of The Whitney Review. This picture and the lead portrait by Acudus Aranyian
Which magazine matters to you the most this morning?
Pin-Up!!! It’s been the biggest influence to me and continues to reinvent itself and inspire me.
Which piece of writing is top of your reading list right now?
‘Best Seller June Newton’ by David Owen (Idea Books) and ‘In Tongues’ by Thomas Grattan both just arrived in the mail. Both pink.
Describe The Whitney Review of New Writing in three words
Smart, sexy, unorthodox.
We love that the Review is all text and no images; was that a bold creative decision or a sensible pragmatic solution?
Definitely both. The designer and art director Immanuel Yang takes such good advantage of text as a texture. It's pragmatic to avoid wrangling photo shoots. Text works best on newsprint. We're scrappy.
But also we’re just oversaturated with images. The tyranny of instagram. Parties that are not fun because people dress like an icon but don't really give anything else. Also a lot of book publishers favor the worst cover art. I want to engage with these books and avoid featuring that. I like people reading an interview with an author without knowing or caring what they look like.
It’s not just about books… tell us some of the other areas of writing you review in issue two.
There’s a broader conversation around writing and text as we encounter it in 2024. Steven Phillips-Horst wrote this brilliant essay on the sassy and desperately contextual copy writing featured in New York City subway advertising. Olivia Kan-Sperling wrote about an AliExpress T-shirt and the relationship between the actual text bedazzled on the garment and the SEO-influenced product title. Lilly Marotta wrote about a restaurant menu.
I’m still hoping someone will review a press release for me!
Is producing your own magazine the natural extension of working for multiple other publications?
I’ve always been an indie magazine girlie. My first internship was in high school helping at the scrappy alt weekly. Over the years, working with magazines like PIN–UP, Gayletter, and Editorial has been just a huge part of my life and beautiful collaborative relationships. At some point I thought maybe this experience was preparing me for a corporate media job, but I’ve realized I’d rather be doing this with my own magazine.
Please highlight one story from the new issue that sums up what you're trying to do with the magazine
On the left we have the short-format reviews. You can see they range in length but some of them are pretty snack-sized and through their juxtaposition there becomes this conversation between the different texts. A great example of the kind of printed matter I want to feature is Johanna Fateman’s zine series Artaud-Mania—but also we have reviews here of poetry, criticism, a couple experimental novels, etc.
Then on the right we have the end of one essay (the one I mentioned before by Steven Phillipps-Horst about two subway ad campaigns #Freethepits and Guest How you Guest) and then David Fishkind writing about contemporary books that are high-brow literary authors borrowing or adapting tropes from crime genre writing.
Portrait by Maya Margolina
What one piece of advice do you have for someone producing their own magazine?
Follow your instincts. Be your own first audience. If you make something you want to see in the world, you will find your people.
What are you most looking forward to this coming week?
I’m working with Kim Hastreiter, who co-founded Paper magazine, on her new book. It’s kind of a totally new genre of book, a memoir, but also a material history of her amazing collection of high / low art and design. And through that you get an intimate portrait and a lot of lore about all these different figures—from Arnold Schwarzenneger to Manolo Blahnik to Salvador Dalí to Willi Smith. We have a work session planned this week.