The Drift Wants You to ‘Examine Your Ideas’

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Reached by phone, Mr. Remnick, the editor of The New Yorker since 1998, confirmed that Driftmania had indeed reached him.

“I would be a fool not to read something like The Drift,” he said. “In the history and culture of this country, small magazines can go on to have large influence, so that’s part of my motivation as a reader, but I have a predatory motivation, too, which is that I’m always looking out for writers for The New Yorker.”

“You know what they used to say about the Partisan Review,” he continued. “For a long while in postwar middle century America, they used to say that maybe only 5,000 people read it, but that it was the right 5,000 people.”

Partisan Review’s contributors and editors also helped create the rowdy myth of literary New York — a gin-soaked milieu in which writers sparred nightly in a haze of cigarette smoke. They harbored long-running feuds with their ideological enemies, and they knew how to give a party.

There was a whiff of that bygone era, perhaps, at a Drift writer’s Park Slope apartment recently. The guests, several of whom described the gathering for this article, played tableau vivant, an old-timey version of charades, in which participants enact famous paintings. One round featured a re-creation of Emanuel Leutze’s “Washington Crossing the Delaware,” with one guest holding a liquor bottle to suggest a telescope. Then came a debate, complete with jurors, to determine the superior author: Edith Wharton or Henry James.

Team Wharton won by a hair.

Ms. Barrow and Ms. Panovka grew up in New York and attended private schools in Manhattan — Dwight for Ms. Barrow, Dalton for Ms. Panovka. At Harvard, Ms. Barrow studied English and ran The Harvard Advocate. Ms. Panovka, an English and philosophy major, edited another student publication, The Harvard Book Review. It wasn’t until they graduated in 2016 that they realized they had enough in common to stake a claim to the little lefty magazine throne.


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