Louis Cheslaw | October 31, 2022

The Monday Media Diet with Louis Cheslaw

On Saunders, Norwich, and Stromboli

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Louis Cheslaw (LC) is a friend of WITI and currently works for New York Magazine. He has great taste and we’re very happy to have him on the page today.

Tell us about yourself.

I was born in North London, and went to university for creative writing in a perfect English city full of pubs and churches called Norwich. Afterwards, I moved to New York to start working, first as Pilar Guzmán’s assistant at Condé Nast, then as a writer and researcher for Tina Brown, and now as an associate editor at New York Magazine. Next year will mark six years in New York, three at New York, and two living in South Slope, Brooklyn.

Describe your media diet. 

It’s most influenced by my stepfather, who—despite hating the internet and barely having a phone–has always been the best-informed person I know. My theory is that because he’s loyal to print media rather than social feeds, he’s always picking up where he left off, which naturally makes it easier for a person’s mind to make sense of things over time. In an attempt to be more like him, my media diet is dominated by print subscriptions too. Currently: the weekend Financial Times and New York Times, Jacobin, the London and New York Review of Books, The New Statesman, and L’Étiquette. There’s always a worry that I’m missing out by no longer having Twitter on my phone, but I rely on a bunch of email newsletters for the best of the rest: LeanLuxe, Public Announcement, Passerby, Maybe Baby, A Continuous Lean, the Times’ morning briefing, and this one!

What’s the last great book you read?

Last Resort, by Andrew Lipstein. It’s a novel about an overthinker who can’t stop making awful decisions, with one of the funniest endings I’ve read in years. I also loved Claire Keegan’s Small Things Like These, about an Irish family struggling with a moral crisis in the weeks leading up to Christmas. It’s little but has a huge heart.

What are you reading now?

To be honest, we’re currently in the thick of assembling the magazine’s Holiday Gift Issue, so I’m reading a lot of product descriptions - you wouldn’t believe how much is made in Portugal these days. But it’s going to be worth it. Once that’s done, I want to finally start the late Mike Davis’ City of Quartz, all about the history of power in Los Angeles. 

What’s your reading strategy when you pick up a print copy of your favorite publication?

With newspapers, I look at every page. I would never have found the recent Times piece on Methuselah, a California pine tree that’s lived for 4,800 years, if I’d simply skipped ahead to my favorite sections. But with magazines, I do start with the stories that most excite me. 

Who should everyone be reading that they’re not?

Plenty of people already love George Saunders, but he’s always going to be my response to this question. Whenever I read him, I quickly come back to a calmer, kinder version of myself. Most people start with Tenth of December—which they should, it’s a masterpiece—but ‘Offloading for Mrs. Schwartz’, in his first collection, CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, is the one I return to most. 

What is the best non-famous app you love on your phone? 

Watcht. It’s the best app I’ve found so far to keep track of the TV shows that friends recommend to me. Though I’m not sure that I love it: Imagine Letterboxd or Goodreads for TV, but sadly with terrible design. 

Plane or train?

Growing up in Europe spoils you when it comes to train travel. The Eurostar is surreal. And when I was a teenager, my best friend and I were able to purchase affordable Interrail passes that covered two weeks of rail trips between six countries, including sleeper trains between Paris and Venice, Venice and Budapest, and Budapest and Split in Croatia. Compare that to the summer where I had two flights unexpectedly take-off again just as we were about to land, because they’d overshot the runway, and my answer is unlikely to change on that one. 

What is one place everyone should visit? 

If you can, Stromboli, near Sicily. It’s an active volcano that’s been erupting for 2,000 years. Spend the day on black sand beaches, then take the night boat back to the mainland, and watch flares of lava light up the night sky. 

Tell us the story of a rabbit hole you fell deep into. 

I’m currently catching up on four years of the This Jungian Life podcast. Each week, three psychoanalysts try to make Carl Jung’s ideas more accessible by using them to explore buzzy contemporary topics: burnout, anxiety, ambition, conspiracy theories, etc. (Gabor Maté, who was mentioned in another recent media diet, is doing a lot of similarly helpful work.) I’m hoping to write something about the show, so please get in touch if you’re a fellow listener… (LC)

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Thanks for reading,

Noah (NRB) & Colin (CJN) & Louis (LC).

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