The Last Magazine: A Novel

The Last Magazine: A Novel

3.8 7
by Michael Hastings
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

The year is 2002. Weekly newsmagazines dominate the political agenda in New York and Washington. A young journalist named Michael M. Hastings is a twenty-two- year-old intern at The Magazine, wet behind the ears, the only one in the office who’s actually read his coworker’s books. He will stop at nothing to turn his internship into a full-time

Overview

The year is 2002. Weekly newsmagazines dominate the political agenda in New York and Washington. A young journalist named Michael M. Hastings is a twenty-two- year-old intern at The Magazine, wet behind the ears, the only one in the office who’s actually read his coworker’s books. He will stop at nothing to turn his internship into a full-time position, and he’s figured out just whom to impress: Nishant Patel, the international editor, and Sanders Berman, managing editor, both vying for the job of editor in chief. While Berman and Nishant try to one-up each other pontificating on cable news, A. E. Peoria—the one reporter seemingly doing any work—is having a career crisis. He’s just returned from Chad, where, instead of the genocide, he was told by his editors to focus on mobile phone outsourcing, which they think is more relevant. And then, suddenly, the United States invades Iraq—and all hell breaks loose. As Hastings loses his naïveté about the journalism game, he must choose where his loyalties lie—with the men at The Magazine who can advance his career or with his friend in the field who is reporting the truth.

The Last Magazine is the debut novel from Michael Hastings, discovered in his files after his untimely death in June 2013. Informed by his own journalistic experiences, it is wickedly funny, sharp, and fast-paced: a great book about print journalism’s last glory days, and a compelling first novel from one of America’s most treasured reporters.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times - Dwight Garner
…fast and funny and humane. When I put it down, it called to be picked up again. Mr. Hastings captures a small but cruel and disorienting era, roughly 2002-7. He zeros in on the American news media's complicity in the rush to war in Iraq, on the withering of venerable brands like Time and Newsweek and on the rise of needling web magazines, run on a shoestring, like Gawker. He gallops through these years like a knight with a long pole on horseback, and he finds plenty to skewer.
Publishers Weekly
04/21/2014
Hastings, the late journalist whose 2010 Rolling Stone profile derailed the military career of Gen. Stanley McChrystal, writes about what he knew best—the world of news magazine publishing—in this posthumously published first novel. In 2002, a fictional Michael Hastings is interning at the weekly Magazine (read Newsweek, where the real Hastings once worked), where he bonds with burnt-out foreign correspondent A.E. Peoria. He also becomes involved with an upstart media website, Wretched.com, which calls print journalists “dead tree-ers.” But Hastings is such a passive character that readers may be drawn more to Peoria, who is forced to go on hiatus after an article he writes causes a riot in Iraq. Teaching journalism, he becomes involved with one of his students, a transsexual named Justina with an incredible backstory. Taking place roughly from the second Iraq War to Hurricane Katrina, this novel tries to recreate the last time that print magazines actually mattered. But without a strong protagonist, the novel suffers, especially in comparison to Tom Rachman’s far superior The Imperfectionists. Still, there is enough here to suggest that had Hastings not died in an auto crash in 2013, he would have mastered the novel form as well as he did journalism. (June)
From the Publisher
“Even from the grave Mr. Hastings has demonstrated anew an ability to reframe the debate. The novel….reads as vivid archaeology that reveals much about the present moment… The milieu of the book paints a picture of a treehouse where like minds connive and look for an opening. But far below them, there is the sound of sawing – steady and implacable. The tree will fall….Remarkable.”—David Carr, The New York Times

“Scathing, funny, rollicking.”—The Barnes and Noble Review

“Frenetic and darkly funny.” – Rolling Stone

“Terrifyingly funny ….entrancing, compelling.” – Shelf Awareness

The Last Magazine is tender and brutal, worldly and inbred, high-minded and gross, smartly rendered and rough around the edges — and quite often hilarious…The Last Magazine is the funniest, most savage takedown of the American news media since Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail ’72, by his hero Hunter S. Thompson.”—James Rosen, The Washington Post

 “[The Last Magazine] is fast and funny and humane. When I put it down, it called to be picked up again.” –Dwight Garner, The New York Times

“What makes this novel work—really, I can’t think of a better little tome to take to the beach—is that it’s just so much fun, so wicked, so amusing, and so brilliantly observed. The caricatures of people living and dead (career-wise) are only part of its charm. I haven’t read a better send-up of hackery since the last time I dove into Evelyn Waugh’s 1938 classic Scoop.”—Christopher Dickey, The Daily Beast

“As a provocative piece of thinly fictionalized nonfiction, [The Last Magazine] is a posthumous mission accomplished…Hastings’s book is a message in a bottle that has belatedly washed up on shore to force us to remember how we landed where we are now.”—Frank Rich, New York Magazine

“That voice. That witty, subversive voice we thought we'd lost, is back for one last romp. Hastings decodes the culture even more incisively in fiction, with wild bursts of imaginative mischief. So damn funny.”—Dave Cullen, New York Times bestselling author of Columbine

“[Hastings’] keen eye for the creatures of the New York media universe focuses on the fabricated lifestyles of that world's desperate inhabitants. Here, no one is immune….The suffering amid the insufferable is comic gold, and Hastings had no time for heroes. The world he created is filled with lost boys stamping their feet for validation. This could be the perfect summer bro comedy. Paging Judd Apatow!”—Mark Guarino, Chicago Tribune
 
“A convincing account of the perils of war - and of the journalistic wars of an institution under siege from New Media…. The Last Magazine remains a loving account of a profession Hastings believed was honorable and tried to honor. Only the guilty have something to fear.” –Paul Wilner, San Francisco Chronicle
 
“Surely Michael Hastings would have savored the taste of revenge had he lived to see his first novel, The Last Magazine published…The humor throughout is searing….entertaining.”—Sherryl Connelly, New York Daily News

The promise of this remarkable novel will never be fulfilled because it is that saddest of literary phenomena—the brilliant but posthumous first novel. Hastings, former Rolling Stone journalist and author of the memoir I Lost My Love in Baghdad (2008), was killed when his automobile crashed in June 2013. Here, in an apparently completed novel found in Hastings’ files after his death, the protagonist “Michael Hastings” is an intern at The Magazine, a newsweekly, and author Hastings has keen and considerable insight into the functioning of a Time-like periodical between 2002 and 2005, Iraq to Katrina. War reporter A. E. Peoria, who has been to Iraq (and elsewhere) for the magazine and is equal parts Neil Sheehan and Hunter Thompson, is the novel’s focus. The scenes of war are graphic and horrifying, and those of sex every bit as graphic and pretty horrifying themselves. Peoria has read his Conrad and Graham Greene, and Hastings, the novelist, reminds one at times of the early Robert Stone. There is an interesting twist, although with its development, the book jumps the tracks a bit. Nonetheless, this is powerful, sharp, often funny, and very compelling reading.
Booklist

Hastings (The Operators, 2012, etc.) was one hell of a journalist, covering wars and geopolitical strife for venues like Rolling Stone and BuzzFeed. As it turns out, he would have made a fine novelist had he not died in a car accident in 2013. This “secret” novel was resurrected from his files by his widow, Elise Jordan; it’s a messy, caustic and very funny satire. His protagonist is a young journalist also named Mike Hastings, who has just landed his first job at The Magazine in the dying days of traditional journalism. In wry metacommentary scattered throughout the text, the character Mike—who claims he's the one writing this book—reflects on just what it is he's writing. "Maybe I'm talking genres, and maybe the genre is corporate betrayal," he says. "Including the big decision that the entire media world is so interested in: Who and what is left standing?" Hastings, the author, tells the story of how Mike makes the journey from ambitious young man to cynical hack partially by showing us Mike's new friend A.E. Peoria, a classic old-school journalist who fuels his brilliant war reporting with alcohol and drugs and transvestite hookers. In the crevasse between his sanitary cubicle and Peoria’s lewd adventures, our hero is also tracking the war of career strategy between his managing editor, Sanders Berman, and the international editor, Nishant Patel, whose favor Mike is carefully currying. Hastings chooses the start of the Iraq War to disrupt Mike's burgeoning career path. "There's war in the backdrop, looming and distant and not real for most of these characters, myself included," Mike says. In a way, the book reflects Hastings' career arc, from unpaid intern at Newsweek to becoming one of the essential war correspondents of his generation. A ribald comedy about doing time in the trenches and the bitter choices that integrity demands.
Kirkus

 

Library Journal
01/01/2014
Hastings's 2010 Rolling Stone article "The Runaway General" won the George Polk Award and spurred the resignation of Gen. Stanley McChrystal; it also inspired Hastings's New York Times best-selling The Operators. At the time of his death in a fiery car crash in June 2013, Hastings was reportedly anxious about National Security Agency surveillance, and some press accounts called the crash suspect. This debut novel, retrieved from his files after his death, traces the career of a young journalist named Michael M. Hastings at the Magazine, a publication not unlike Newsweek, where Hastings started as an intern in 2002.
Kirkus Reviews
2014-04-17
A posthumous novel about the news business.Hastings (The Operators, 2012, etc.) was one hell of a journalist, covering wars and geopolitical strife for venues like Rolling Stone and BuzzFeed. As it turns out, he would have made a fine novelist had he not died in a car accident in 2013. This "secret" novel was resurrected from his files by his widow, Elise Jordan; it's a messy, caustic and very funny satire. His protagonist is a young journalist also named Mike Hastings, who has just landed his first job at The Magazine in the dying days of traditional journalism. In wry metacommentary scattered throughout the text, the character Mike—who claims he's the one writing this book—reflects on just what it is he's writing. "Maybe I'm talking genres, and maybe the genre is corporate betrayal," he says. "Including the big decision that the entire media world is so interested in: Who and what is left standing?" Hastings, the author, tells the story of how Mike makes the journey from ambitious young man to cynical hack partially by showing us Mike's new friend A.E. Peoria, a classic old-school journalist who fuels his brilliant war reporting with alcohol and drugs and transvestite hookers. In the crevasse between his sanitary cubicle and Peoria's lewd adventures, our hero is also tracking the war of career strategy between his managing editor, Sanders Berman, and the international editor, Nishant Patel, whose favor Mike is carefully currying. Hastings chooses the start of the Iraq War to disrupt Mike's burgeoning career path. "There's war in the backdrop, looming and distant and not real for most of these characters, myself included," Mike says. In a way, the book reflects Hastings' career arc, from unpaid intern at Newsweek to one of the essential war correspondents of his generation.A ribald comedy about doing time in the trenches and the bitter choices that integrity demands.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780399169946
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
06/17/2014
Pages:
352
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
“What a novel it is! Tenacity and perseverance were the qualities that helped Hastings become a star reporter for GQ and Rolling Stone, and they inform the novel’s narrative, creating a story as engrossing as it is believable. While the characters are not always likable, they are unfailingly engaging. And the breakneck pace of the narrative is so unrelenting, it makes you wonder if Hastings lived as he wrote.” –Newsweek

“Even from the grave Mr. Hastings has demonstrated anew an ability to reframe the debate. The novel….reads as vivid archaeology that reveals much about the present moment… The milieu of the book paints a picture of a treehouse where like minds connive and look for an opening. But far below them, there is the sound of sawing – steady and implacable. The tree will fall….Remarkable.”—David Carr, The New York Times

“Scathing, funny, rollicking.”—The Barnes and Noble Review

“Frenetic and darkly funny.” – Rolling Stone

“Terrifyingly funny ….entrancing, compelling.” – Shelf Awareness

The Last Magazine is tender and brutal, worldly and inbred, high-minded and gross, smartly rendered and rough around the edges — and quite often hilarious…The Last Magazine is the funniest, most savage takedown of the American news media since Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail ’72, by his hero Hunter S. Thompson.”—James Rosen, The Washington Post

 “[The Last Magazine] is fast and funny and humane. When I put it down, it called to be picked up again.” –Dwight Garner, The New York Times

“What makes this novel work—really, I can’t think of a better little tome to take to the beach—is that it’s just so much fun, so wicked, so amusing, and so brilliantly observed. The caricatures of people living and dead (career-wise) are only part of its charm. I haven’t read a better send-up of hackery since the last time I dove into Evelyn Waugh’s 1938 classic Scoop.”—Christopher Dickey, The Daily Beast

“As a provocative piece of thinly fictionalized nonfiction, [The Last Magazine] is a posthumous mission accomplished…Hastings’s book is a message in a bottle that has belatedly washed up on shore to force us to remember how we landed where we are now.”—Frank Rich, New York Magazine

“That voice. That witty, subversive voice we thought we'd lost, is back for one last romp. Hastings decodes the culture even more incisively in fiction, with wild bursts of imaginative mischief. So damn funny.”—Dave Cullen, New York Times bestselling author of Columbine

“[Hastings’] keen eye for the creatures of the New York media universe focuses on the fabricated lifestyles of that world's desperate inhabitants. Here, no one is immune….The suffering amid the insufferable is comic gold, and Hastings had no time for heroes. The world he created is filled with lost boys stamping their feet for validation. This could be the perfect summer bro comedy. Paging Judd Apatow!”—Mark Guarino, Chicago Tribune
 
“A convincing account of the perils of war -- and of the journalistic wars of an institution under siege from New Media…. The Last Magazine remains a loving account of a profession Hastings believed was honorable and tried to honor. Only the guilty have something to fear.” –Paul Wilner, San Francisco Chronicle
 
“Surely Michael Hastings would have savored the taste of revenge had he lived to see his first novel, The Last Magazine published…The humor throughout is searing….entertaining.”—Sherryl Connelly, New York Daily News

"Remarkable... Hastings, the novelist, reminds one at times of the early Robert Stone." —Booklist

"A messy, caustic and very funny satire.... A ribald comedy about doing time in the trenches and the bitter choices that integrity demands." --Kirkus

Meet the Author

Michael Hastings was a contributing editor to Rolling Stone and a correspondent at large for BuzzFeed. Before that he worked for Newsweek, where he rose to prominence covering the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was the recipient of the 2010 George Polk Award for his Rolling Stone magazine story The Runaway General. Hastings was the author of three books, I Lost My Love in Baghdad, Panic 2012, and The Operators. He died in 2013, and was posthumously honored with the Norman Mailer Award for Emerging Journalist.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

The Last Magazine: A Novel 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well written, if a bit unusual. Something of a page turner. Easy, fun and maybe a little educational about goings on inside a publication. Recommended for the beach.
Wolfie718 More than 1 year ago
Definitely a page-turner, reminiscent of Hunter Thompson in depicting some of the excesses. The main character, A. E. Peoria, is fascinating and surprisingly sympathetic. The humor isn't the laugh-out-loud variety, much more tongue-in-cheek and sly. While it is clear that he was narrating real events and depicting real people, I never felt he was taking cheap shots at anyone. The real life A. E. Peoria character says as much also. Very glad that I bought the book. I was aware that Hastings was dead before I read it, but was very sad about it when I finished.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
DaveCullen More than 1 year ago
I blurbed this book, so I'll start with that, then expand: That voice. That witty, subversive voice we thought we'd lost, is back for one last romp. Hastings decodes the culture even more incisively in fiction, with wild bursts of imaginative mischief. So damn funny. Too salesy? I hope not. So much to pack in there, and especially, I wanted to convey the giddiness I felt snickering my way through.  I could hardly believe it. I missed Mike desperately, and there was everything I loved about him, everything that made him so special, the one living journalist I most looked up to, captured vividly on the page.  So there's my disclaimer: Mike was a friend. Stop there if you think I'm too biased. But it affected me deeply as a writer, and as someone working in a version of the same field, frequently appalled and furious at the profession. As I've raved about the book pre-publication, I've found myself confessing that it's hard to be objective, but that's not actually true: My writer friends and I exchange work all the time, and they shudder at my critiques. I'm harsh and demanding, especially from those I respect most, and to be honest, I was terrified to read this: What if Mike couldn't pull off fiction? What if it wasn't his best work?  I never dreamed that it would literally be his best work. In my opinion, it is. If you thought you loved his voice in nonfiction, when he was still constrained by the form, wait to you hear him unshackled and unfettered in fiction. Kind of glorious to behold.  God, I wish he'd plunged into fiction deeper, sooner.  This book is described as a satire of the media, and at least 2/3 of it is, brilliantly, but it's so much more. One by one, he takes us deep inside so many cultural institutions, and shows us how absurdly they operate: war, media, even a hilarious bit on the airlines that had me howling and nodding. (pp. 29-31. That's when I knew that I was unabashedly in love with this book. Try that if you're looking for an excerpt. Search the phrase, "A.E. Peoria sits in first class..."  Every page I was nodding, because Mike had this incredible cultural x-ray sort of capacity to see right through the fog of cultural wars, take us readers right past all that, into the inside to see how it operates: who is pulling the levers and why.  The scary part for me, as a writer, was 1/3 of the way through, I set the book down, and had a serious argument with myself about whether I had to stop reading. The war sections were covering the same ground as my next book, and I was starting to feel panicky that I couldn't match it.  (That debilitating intimidation has happened to me exactly twice before: reading "In Cold Blood" while writing "Columbine," and rereading "All Quiet On The Western Front" while working on my soldiers' book. And now "The Last Magazine." Pretty lofty company.)  That was my actual experience reading this--so I'm pretty sure I was feeling more than just admiration for a friend. (FYI, the war receded as a primary focus as the novel progressed, but I didn't know that at the time. And for the record, I got over the intimidation each time. But it fucked with me.) This novel is a mischievous and cutting satire, and boy does Mike lay the media bare. You may think you've seen that before, because Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert have been masterfully eviscerating it nightly. But those guys are skewering the media from the outside. They've got TVs lined up in the writers' rooms watching CNN and Fox and MSNBC like the rest of us. They can and do tell us HOW the media is fucking it up, but if you want to understand WHY all that perplexing sewage keeps spilling out, you need an insider. Mike lived it. Mike inhabited that self-perpetuating bullshit machinery. And here he's laying it bare.  People assume it's all about ratings, but that doesn't explain the half of it. Fuck the show's ratings, or the magazine sales, it's about PERSONAL stature. It's about opportunism, cowardice, personality branding. All of that comes to life in this book. It's about clever use of a question mark. I don't want to go any further without a spoiler, but there is an amazing use of a question mark in a crucial headline in this book that reveals so much about how a news organization can shamelessly, selfishly beat the drum for and against the same war.  Mike had an amazing eye for the telling detail, and a keen bullshit-detector.  So if you were offended by my use of "fuck" up there, this book might not be for you. It is not polite. Sometimes ruthless, even savage, but always dead-on. Mike illustrates a pitch-perfect ear for voice and dialogue and It's all rendered beautifully, through the eyes of (mostly) young men, who are not mincing words, or acting delicately.  There are a handful of pretty wild, graphic sexcapades, which for me, beautifully colored the life of these characters--and while avoiding spoilers, a certain juxtaposition of war, porn and news is deftly handled and revealing about all three, as well as the young men engaging in them.   If that's going to offend you, be prepared to skip a few pages, or skip this book. It's pretty damn gonzo. If you hate gonzo, you know who you are. If you hated Denis Johnson's "Jesus' Son," don't even consider this.  "Jesus' Son" is one of my all-time favorites and I kept recalling it as I read: in the brutal honesty and vivid insights each book captured about its characters. Also, I was reminded of "A Visit from the Goon Squad" (which I'm still reading, and LOVING), for the same reason, particularly the feeling and intensity of youngish artists (writers, musicians, whatever), and perhaps particularly in NYC at this moment in time. The tormented inner lives of the "fictional" Hastings and especially the A.E. Peoria he was projecting himself growing into--Peoria's fears, aspirations, his shaky identity as a magazine writer and the tenuous nature of making both your living and your hopeful contribution by typing shit on a screen ... These characters were so powerful and so real, it felt like someone had been listening in to all the conversations in my head. That was unsettling for me. The passage on p. 240, when "Hastings" (the first-person narrator)  says about Peoria, "Yes, the career had been his life...his id, his ego, and his soul. He didn't know it at the time. ... He just took pills and got drunk and ..." And then he made one mistake...  God, it sounded like Mike had been listening into the arguments in my head. But he wrote it before he met me. Is this what all writers feel? All artists? Just certain kinds? I had no idea Mike was so haunted by the myth of Icarus, leaping out at him from among all the Greek myths, just as it did for me. For you?  I actually hope to hear from other writers and artists about their reactions. (Perhaps in the comments?)  For me, personally, this was as much a portrait of two earnest but ambitious young artists trying to make a lasting impact on the world--and how that can run horribly astray.  It's a brilliant take-down of the media, too, for sure, but don't miss the richer personal story a quarter inch beneath the surface. This is an Icarus tale. It's consistently witty and insightful and it's immediately so there. Just a stunning piece of work. Best book I've read all year.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Just that - marginal. The book got lost a few times. Many things were left in the air.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Pads in and hunts.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kiss your and three times post this on three other books and check under your pillow.