Some of the magazine’s flair is the work of editorial director Anaheed Alani, who also happens to be the wife of Ira Glass, the host of the hit American public-radio show This American Life. But whoever produces it, the writing is sublime – deeply personal, candid but cool, unashamedly forthright, seldom show-offy or careerist (unlike some of its older peers), and rarely angry.
This is a new feminist writing, just in time for the 50th anniversary of the publication of The Feminine Mystique next month, and one that befits a generation of young women who have spent hours alone and online in their bedrooms enthusiastically describing the difference between their inner lives and their outer manifestations – a classic subject of teenagers, and also of essayists for, oh, the past 2,500 years.
Rookie is where Lena Dunham, who created the audacious HBO show Girls, described the first time she had sex. (Girls started its second season last week, the same night Ms. Dunham tottered onstage to win a Golden Globe Award. Perhaps Rookie will publish her account of why she decided to wear heels so high they made her walk like she’d filled her pants.)
Each issue has a theme: Mythology, Faith, Invention, Drama and On the Road have been a few. But the magazine’s subjects range from witty self-help (“Stress is not some club where people vote and drink whisky all the time. It’s just life. And young people … burn out all the time. They just aren’t taught to recognize or deal with it, because they’re not old dudes named Chet who work in a bank”) to daring cultural theory (“How do you deal with enjoying/loving things that happen to be at least a little bit misogynistic?”) to the pleasures of reading Emily Dickinson to, frequently, sex, pleasurable or not (including, for instance, a gripping if slightly cautionary tale about the appeal of much older men).
When I first started reading it, I spent four hours poring over it without looking up.
One of the things that that finally brought me out of my reverie was an essay my daughter had submitted to a professor and sent on to me, with the title “The Reciprocity of Love in William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and William Congreve’s The Way of the World ” – an essay about the role of reason and respect in romantic love. I could never have written it. Not at 39, never mind at 19.
What shocks (and thrills) me most about being surpassed as a rabid reader isn’t the surpassing – that has to be a sign that something went right – but the speed of the zoom-around, and the age at which she has managed it. But this is an intellectually ambitious generation of young women, with a racing sense of purpose.
Herrick understood the desirability of doing things now instead of later, given the racehorse speed at which life gallops by, and the unevenness of the course:
Thus I Pass by
The chance to describe life starts to end as soon as it stops beginning. The new girls seem to have grasped that already.