Baffle Me Again! Will Boston Deliver Our Beloved Journal?

baffler Baffle Me Again! Will Boston Deliver Our Beloved Journal?Beloved antiestablishment journal The Baffler is back. A new issue released this fall will feature the work of Tom Frank, Chris Lehmann, Maureen Tkacik and, sorry, does this sound familiar?

The Observer published almost identical news in 2009, but just one volume materialized. What’s different about this Baffler reboot is that it takes place in Cambridge (the magazine was formerly based in Chicago), home of its new publisher and editor John Summers, a former Harvard adjunct and author of Every Fury on Earth.

Off the Record emailed Mr. Summers. Could he offer some assurance? We’d been burned before. “Nope,” Mr. Summers wrote. “Journals, like lovers, don’t deal in absolutes.”

The Baffler has been mostly dormant since 2003. There are, however, signs that the relaunch is for real this time. Mr. Summers will be a full-time Baffler employee. He recently named Eugenia Williamson managing editor, suggesting there’s work being done to be managed. The new Baffler team includes the magazine’s founder (and now columnist for Harper’s) Tom Frank and Yahoo! News editor Chris Lehmann. Mr. Summers’s wife, Anna Summers, and New York Review of Books Classics editor Edwin Frank will pitch in on fiction and poetry editing, respectively, and Barbara Ehrenreich will contribute to the first issue.

Mr. Summers has been busy fund-raising and has even founded the nonprofit Baffler Foundation. He is also reaching out to subscribers, building a web forum for readers’ letters, and digitizing the archives, which contain a number of uncannily prescient economic essays, not to mention the legendary debunking of the hoax “grunge glossary” that punked The New York Times.

Off the Record wondered if Mr. Summers’s efforts might help ensure the journal’s survival this time around.

“Survive for how long?” Mr. Summers replied. The Baffler’s forbears, like H.L. Mencken’s The American Mercury, Dwight Macdonald’s Politics, and Spy each published for less than 10 years, he pointed out.

“All are immortal, which is our aim as well.”

kstoeffel@observer.com