NYRM asks some of today’s top magazine writers and editors, "Who inspired you?"
By Srabani Roy

  Science writer Jonathan Weiner and his mentor, biologist John Tyler Bonner
  Emerson Blake
“John Steinbeck never wrote for Orion, but he is an important figure for me and stands for many of the qualities we hope Orion stands for as well: lyrical, literary writing; first-rate reporting; an
awareness of the intersection of separate social issues (environmentalism, poverty, race); accessibility; and a search for
real answers to our culture’s problems. Other writers that I and others of us here at Orion admire and view as mentors include Gary Snyder, Barry Lopez, Wendell Berry, Rachel Carson, Aldo Leopold, Jane Goodall, and the many emerging writers who are creating an entirely new way of writing about nature and culture.”

Keith Gessen


"I was profoundly influenced by the writers, past and present, of Dissent. They showed me that you can be furious at injustice without being shrill, and that you can be firm in your resistance to capital while also gentle, wry, and humane. Above all, they showed me that a small group of people, by practicing everyday decency and seriousness, can create a very powerful magazine."

Bruce Falconer
Staff editor
The Atlantic Monthly
“For three years, until William Langewiesche’s departure for Vanity Fair, I was his assistant. I benefited in ways I never thought possible. I had long admired William as a writer. The topics he took on, his work ethic as a reporter, and his ambitious, artful writing were part of what inspired me to become a writer. When I got to know him, it also turned out that he was a thoughtful and generous person, and a great mentor. He took a genuine interest in my development and believed in me even when I did not. My association with William built my skills and confidence to the point where I’ve begun to write my own long-form narrative pieces.”
Jonathan Weiner
Author and science writer
The New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine,
and Time
“When I was in high school back in the late 1960s, I read a few books by a Princeton biologist named John Tyler Bonner. They were wonderful books. Eventually I wrote an essay about Bonner, ‘Marching Along with the Social Amoeba.’ It was my first published effort as a science writer. I guess you could say that I’ve been marching along with the social amoeba ever since. John Tyler Bonner still writes wonderful books,and still studies the social amoeba.”
Rebecca Traister
Staff writer
My professional life has been made possible by a group of mentors. I’ve been lucky. My friend Lisa Chase, who was a senior editor when I was a lowly editorial assistant, thought I could write and helped me to get a reporting job at the New York Observer. My editor there, Frank DiGiacomo, pushed me to get good and then pushed me to get better. When I took a job at and started writing about gender and politics, Katha Pollitt—whose work I have long admired—asked difficult questions and offered generous support of my writing from afar. My editor-in-chief, Joan Walsh, routinely challenges me to do better.”
Tom Jenks
“My first literary mentor was Peter Taylor, whose famous short story ‘A Spinster’s Tale’ can be found in our site’s archive. Peter was unfailingly kind and, like many of the best artists, imbued with the divine. More than any particular advice about writing, what made him a mentor was his character. He did impart, however, a belief that I follow: one does not write for the market.”



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