The Best Magazine In Many Years: Boom, A Journal of California

BoomA Journal of California is the best new magazine I’ve seen in decades. I am bioregionally biased, of course, but even a New Yorker or a Canadian could recognize the craft and care that goes into Boom. It’s published by the University of California Press, which explains why it’s not filled with garbage and perfume ads, and each themed issue of the quarterly is full of book-quality writing, photography and research. And appropriately for California, there is nothing stuffy or academic about it.

Film and science fiction are prevailing themes in the two issues I’ve read so far: Chinatown is repeatedly used as a device to tell the story of the Owens Valley and the terrific graft involved in piping that water down to Los Angeles, while everything from Star Wars stills to the work of cult sci-fi authors like Philip K. Dick illustrate California’s endless future imaginings of itself. 

It’s just very good stuff, filled with some of my favorite Golden State writers and characters. And it’s beautiful to hold and look at, too—a digital version might have all the same ideas, but each issue of Boom is really one for the bookshelf. The new issue is called “California in the World: The World in California.” I have no idea what’s inside, but the cover’s got that iconic old map of California as an island paradise hugging the desert coast of North America.

Sincere recommendation: Subscribe to Boom. It has been a long time since a periodical so good was published in and about California.