The Atlantic Monthly Cuts Back on Fiction


Published: April 6, 2005

The Atlantic Monthly magazine, which in its nearly 150-year history was among the first to publish short works of fiction by Ernest Hemingway, Mark Twain, Henry James and Sue Miller, is eliminating the regular publication of fiction from its pages, according to a letter from the magazine’s editors in the May issue. The change, the editors say, is to allow for more space to be devoted to “long-form narrative reporting.” The magazine, which now publishes 10 issues a year, down from 12 a few years ago, will add an annual fiction issue each August for sale on newsstands. Subscribers to the magazine will have access to its contents online but apparently will not receive a printed copy. “Everyone knows that the surface features of the news are being reported faster all the time, in smaller and smaller bits,” the editors write in their usual monthly letter to readers, titled “77 North Washington Street,” signifying the Boston address of the magazine’s editorial offices. “But explaining the deeper features of the world requires a different and more expansive kind of reporting — one that has increasingly become the Atlantic’s signature. That reporting consumes a lot of space.” The change is part of a multiyear trend of general-interest magazines publishing fewer works of fiction. C. Michael Curtis, fiction editor of The Atlantic Monthly, said in an interview that the staff was informed of the change in an e-mail message within the last two weeks. Mr. Curtis said that with the fiction issue the magazine hopes to publish about as much fiction as it had done throughout the year.