From: Dan Stiffler <email@example.com>, 17 Feb 2004
Subject: Fiction editor?
[Re: PLAYBOY's loss of a dedicated fiction editor]
I have been crying about this, both privately and publicly (on the PML), ever since it happened. I became especially exercised when PLAYBOY turned around and hired a "celebrity wrangler" with the advent of Kaminsky.
Let's be clear about one thing: a magazine with PLAYBOY's (former) reputation and high pay scale does not need a fiction editor to get writers to submit work for publication. While the magazine certainly has dropped the frequency of its fiction since the glory days (an average of three stories per issue), it has nevertheless not stopped publishing fiction altogether. Many issues these days carry one story, some of them even illustrated by art instead of photographs. It's a nod to those PLAYBOY readers who still read and who appreciate fine art; it's also a face-saving gesture for a magazine that once prided itself on its content rather than its celebrities.
The loss of a fiction editor means that PLAYBOY no longer scouts for the new writers and—worse yet—no longer establishes a stable of writers. Those of us who became readers in part because of PLAYBOY did so because we began to read regularly the work of writers like Herbert Gold, Jean Shepherd, and Ian Fleming.
The primary job of a good fiction editor is to find young talent and cultivate it for the sake of the writer, the reader, and the magazine. Excepting the fiction contest, which is clearly a hold-over, PLAYBOY now takes the celebrity approach to fiction: e.g., the much-ballyhooed (by Kaminsky) publication of a T.C. Boyle story.
PLAYBOY has sold its literary soul to the devil of celebrity—a new Faustian tale in the making.
From: Gretchen G. Edgren <firstname.lastname@example.org>, 17 Feb 2004
FYI, I just checked with my old friend Alice Turner, and she confirmed my recollection that it was actually she who introduced T.C.Boyle to PLAYBOY readers, something like 18 years ago, when she was the fiction editor and he was pretty much unknown.