The Idler:
Literature for Loafers

(General Interest; London, UK; bimonthly)

I never know exactly how I feel about this whole "work" business. It's sometimes tedious, often exhausting, and always time-consuming. And I don't care what they say: hard work isn't as rewarding as an afternoon spent wandering the streets or an evening spent reading in my too-tiny studio apartment. And let's face it, that pay check is the carrot that my landlord shares an interest in.

For anyone who ever wondered, as I have, if they were just ill-suited for the work force, the pages of The Idler may provide a much needed salve. This British bimonthly was conceived of and brought into the nasty world of nineties work culture in the summer of 1993. Proud parents are editor Tom Hodgkinson, who that spring had fortuitously been sacked from his less-than rewarding research position on a Sunday tabloid and art director Gavin Pretor-Pinney who worked on the (sadly) now defunct Modern Review. 14 issues and an Utne Reader Alternative Press Award for general excellence later, these slackers are still fanning the flames of an idle revolution.

At a time when jobs for life are on the way out, The Idler, which draws on the work of Samuel Johnson's eighteenth century column of the same name and the D.I.Y. culture of the moment, strives to assure its reader that wresting control over your own time and doing what you want does not make you a social pariah. Doing nothing is not a waste of time.

Not that the Idler is opposed to doing stuff—even work. Art gallery security guards, 4 year olds and the unemployed are profiled alongside the contemporary and long dead writers, artists and philosophers whose creative achievements The Idler editorial staff admires. But it's the attention paid to idle pursuits that makes The Idler truly a pleasure. The Idler's pool of talented young British writers, as well as the occasional BritLit star—Author Will Self is said to be "unfailingly supportive" and his prose can be found in several issues—have managed to wax philosophical on the pleasures of drinking, smoking, masturbation and spacing out. These are people who saw fit to make "Sleep" a cover story—and god bless 'em!

So don't drop out, just get there later. And pick up a copy of The Idler to read on your way.

Distribution is spotty in the States and even worse in Canada, so subscriptions are recommended. Subscriptions for 1 year (6 issues) are £15.50 in North America, £13.00 in Europe and £10.50 in the UK. Send a cheque, money order or credit card details to: The Idler, Garrard House, 2-6 Homesdale Road, Bromley, England, BR2 9WL or call their subscription hotline at 01812897962

An Idler web site is in the works.

Margie Borschke

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