LevGrossman

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

Person of the Year: It’s Not You, It’s Mark

I couldn’t say before, because it was secret secret secret, but for the past six weeks I’ve been busy writing a long story about how Mark Zuckerberg is Person of the Year.

The editors talked to me about writing this piece all the way back in August, and I figured subsequent events — like the midterm elections, maybe — might change their minds, but they didn’t, which led to a lot of secretive flying back and forth between New York and Palo Alto at odd hours to interview Zuckerberg and people who know him.

(In the process I lied about what I was doing to lots of people, including readers of this blog, and I feel bad about that. But I couldn’t think of another way to make it work.)

It was stressful but not unenjoyable. As a writer I’m really not a sprinter, I prefer the long haul, and I rarely get to do long-haul New Yorker-style features in Time. The magazine just isn’t built around them, and when it is they’re usually about war or politics or business, which the editors wisely do not let me write about. But Person of the Year (or P.O.Y. as they call it here) has a special aura around it. When you mention it the bar goes silent, a glass breaks, the editors cross themselves, and an old gypsy woman looks up from the corner and tells them they’d better give you extra pages, if they know what’s good for them.

And plus it was a good story. Zuckerberg is interesting, and Facebook is interesting.

But now I’m thoroughly burned out on my day job and ready for another crack at my night job. I haven’t looked at The Magician King in 6 weeks. I figure it’s probably let its down its guard by now.


12 comments on “Person of the Year: It’s Not You, It’s Mark

  1. Jaimie says:

    I was sad it wasn’t Assange, but glad you got to write the cover story. (And I guess they did just do Assange.)

    MOAR MAGICIANS.

  2. I wasn’t that interested in reading the P.O.Y. article until I heard that you’d written it.

    Going to get my hair cut today, so there will be salon lounge waiting area magazine reading happening.

    I’ll meet you there.

    As for The Magician King: I can’t remember the last time I’ve been this hyper-alert for a sequel to drop.

    No pressure.

    I’m honestly willing to wait for you to make that book everything you want it to be.

  3. GMinNJ says:

    Good line from SNL this past weekend:

    “Time magazine — always on the cutting edge, discovering Facebook only weeks after your grandmother.”

    Like others here, I’m pro-Lev so I’m happy for you, but the choice itself was deeply disappointing on a hundred different levels.

  4. K.M. Walton says:

    I know I’ve said this before, but I really like your writing voice — Time mag included. Great P.O.Y. article.

    p.s. I like your writing so much I named The Magicians one of my top 5 books of 2010 on my blog.

  5. Church says:

    Ditto on the “should have been Assange,” but it was a good piece.

    “Conference rooms are a big deal at Facebook because they’re the only places anybody has any privacy at all…”

    I see what you did there.

  6. Karl Ruben says:

    I’m going to wait until the paper version arrives in my parents’ mailbox, but I’m looking forward to the piece, much more than I did before I knew you were writing it. Have a good holiday!

  7. Nancy Ellis says:

    I am SO glad the old gypsy woman is on your side… such a relief!
    Thank you for that bit of tension.

  8. Anonymoose says:

    You couldn’t be any more specific on the status of The Magician King?

    From what you said, I don’t have much faith in it D:

  9. This is unusual … an expert ‘technical’ writer of expository magazine prose, who can also write fiction. Other examples? Hemingway, of course. And Truman Capote and Tom Wolfe. More recently, there’s Tom Wolfe, and the lesser-known John Colapinto, whose delightful “About the Author” should be on everyone’s must-read list.

    And you. My introduction: cool trees on a random book cover, and this brief paragraph:

    “Quentin did a magic trick. Nobody noticed.”

    That was enough for me.
    Just finished Codex; looking forward to POY; waiting for the new book; reading the blog. Congratulations on your new baby, and Merry Christmas.

  10. Writing before the first cup of coffee: bad idea. Tom Wolfe might be pleased but I didn’t mean to mention him twice. Three times now. Ugh: I’ll quit while I’m ahead.

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