Paris Review searches again for a new editor

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Associated Press

A year and a half after the death of longtime editor George Plimpton, the Paris Review is finding him even harder to replace than first imagined.

The celebrated literary magazine, which has published fiction by Philip Roth, Jack Kerouac and V.S. Naipaul during its 52-year history, has decided to replace Plimpton’s successor, Brigid Hughes.

“Her contract expires March 31 and we will not renew it,” said Thomas Guinzburg, president of the magazine’s board of directors. Guinzburg declined to offer specific reasons for not retaining Hughes, but expressed general concern about the Paris Review’s future, saying it needed more subscribers and a more businesslike approach.


Hughes said she had not received indications the magazine was unhappy with her. She said she was told the board wanted to take the magazine “in a new direction.”

Guinzburg said the board was “enormously grateful” for her hard work and “the successful issues she had produced in the past year,” but said changes were being considered, such as publishing more nonfiction and interviewing a wider range of writers, including screenwriters and journalists. The Paris Review is famous for its extensive interviews with Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner and other literary greats.

Guinzburg added that a search for a new editor was underway and that a decision would “hopefully” be made before Hughes leaves. “The next issue will be a little late,” he said, if a successor isn’t found in time.

Just 30 when she started the job, Hughes admittedly had outsized shoes to fill. The gregarious Plimpton, who died in September 2003 at age 76, was a legendary figure in the book world, known and loved by countless writers, and was a tireless promoter of the magazine.

His pizazz was much needed at the magazine, which has survived largely by reputation through the years. The Paris Review has never had more than a few thousand subscribers and has often relied on contributions to keep it going. Plimpton once cheerfully confided that the magazine’s bank balance had dropped to $1.16.

But although Guinzburg said the magazine’s finances were “solid,” he added that the informal managerial style under which the Paris Review long operated no longer works. For a start, the Review is seeking to move out of Plimpton’s townhouse.