Editorial: The Call of Wanderlust


Letters from readers often contain constructive criticism, and while I may not reply to every letter, I do think seriously about every idea. A recent contribution from a longtime subscriber suggested that I use this space each month to discuss the content of the current issue.

The letter reminded me of a conversation with a former superior who demanded to know why I didn’t write a monthly editor’s letter for the magazine I edited at the time. I explained that, in my experience, the majority of editors, finding themselves with nothing to say each month, simply reviewed the current issue’s content, promoting the merits of the articles as if readers needed to be encouraged to read them.

I told the boss that as a reader I found such obvious carnival-barker-style hype annoying and that I had no intention of inflicting that sort of writing on our readers. Editors should choose the content they choose because of its merit; it shouldn’t need to be hyped. “Besides,” I went on, “I’ve spent years telling my students that it’s almost impossible to write well unless you have something to say.”

“So,” the boss said, “say something.” Having received his blessing, I set about doing just that in each issue from then on. The result may not always be riveting reading, but it’s honest.

That’s what I wanted to tell you this month—why this column is what it is. Having explained that, though, it feels odd to tell you now that the other thing on my mind this month is Lola Augustine Brown’s piece on her trip to Portugal and Spain (page 50). The more I read it, the more I feel an increasingly strong desire to go off somewhere by myself and wander.

It’s been a long time since I rambled around a new and unfamiliar city, but I recall with great pleasure the luxury of being free to decide at a whim to turn down a street or head off across a park in London, Paris, and Budapest (places I got to visit for business reasons, not because I had money stashed away). I’m beginning to suspect that a trip may be in the offing. Nowhere exotic, of course—I’m annoyingly frugal—but somewhere new. Lisbon? Perhaps. I’ll let the idea float around in my grey matter for a while. It doesn’t hurt to daydream.

Murray Lewis, Editor-in-Chief


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