Wolfe on Felker: New York Was His Invention

And if that's not enough, so was the modern search engine
By Jonas Oransky,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 8, 2008 2:12 PM CDT
An April 23, 1996, file photo of Clay Felker New York Magazine founding editor, at a reception before the 1996 National Magazine Awards in New York. A magazine spokeswoman says he died Tuesday morning,July...   (AP Photo/Todd Plitt)
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(Newser) – Tom Wolfe writes with great fondness—and more than a little self-indulgence—about the giddy heyday of the New Journalism, when he and Clay Felker, the legendary magazine editor who died last week, collaborated on the invention of New York magazine. With a gimlet eye for status and boundless social appetites--one year he claimed to have eaten dinner at home only eight times—Felker created a sociology of the fabulous and stylish, enabling Wolfe to write some of his best and most influential work.

While Wolfe sees Felker's achievement as a "huge, sprawling Vanity Fair,"  Marc Weingarten counters in the New Republic that the editor's true legacy was the invention of service journalism—"the magazine as proto-search engine"—which lasted long after New Journalism had flamed out. "Felker intuited," Weingarten writes, "that, deep down, we are all consumerist whores at heart. Forget every service magazine that emerged in its wake; New York was really the precursor for the modern search engine. Google, meet your father."