“The only leftist publication I could imagine being read at both Columbia University and Rikers.” TIME OUT

“Arresting, fractious…At once contrarian, ambitiously inclusive and wide-ranging… [First] has attracted an extended crew of intelligent, passionate, polemical writers.” AMERICAN BOOK REVIEW

“A cultural and intellectual publication that is singularly lively, and no less strange.” INSIDE HIGHER ED

SONNY ROLLINS: “Keep up the good work!!”

KURT VONNEGUT: “I was already thoroughly demoralized by awareness that brilliant pro-bono writing was going on all over the fucking country. Now Claremont Avenue, for Christ’s sake, checks in!” (1999) “Where do you find all these magical writers? Nat Finkelstein’s harrowing piece would have been relevant at any time.” (2004)

RUSSELL BANKS: “Thanks for the new issue. I wonder why it’s taken me so long to find this publication… I like the feeling, when reading First, that I’m in a roomful of intelligent, quarrelsome, open-minded, open-hearted humanists. Of course, it’s helpful to be able now and then to step outside for a smoke while I figure out where I myself happen to stand on Charlie Hebdo, race/class, Black Lives Matter, Obama, etc., etc.”

ROBERT SILVERS: “I was impressed by much in First of the Month. Good luck with it.” (1999) “Admirable.” (2006)

PATRICIA WILLIAMS: “First of the Month is the brilliant last barrier between you and the devouring maw of media conglomeration. Reading it is like rescue.” (2000)  [DeMott’s “Southern Changes”] is a wonderful piece. Very moving, very powerful…I think this is an essay that will be quoted and circulated a lot. (2015)

IRA KATZNELSON: “I am a faithful reader of First, which instructs, informs, and entertains!”

ARAM SAROYAN: “What a churning urn of burning funk! Great!”

EUGENE GOODHEART: “Perspectives by Incongruity is the perfect title for the cornucopia of Vol. IV of First of the Year… Peter Brown, Richard Hoggart, Thelonious Monk, the pieces on Obama… something for every taste and interest. Kenneth Burke would have been pleased.”

OSSIE DAVIS: “First of the Month is spirited and stimulating and controversial in the best sense of the word.”

GREIL MARCUS: “In First of the Month, co-editor Charles O’Brien wrote from the heart, condemning Noam Chomsky and others as “the Vichy left,” and saying, finally, more than anyone else was saying, right or left.” (2001) “The best piece I’ve read on “No Direction Home” is by Charles O’Brien in First of the Month.” (2006) “I love the complete absence of a line. There would never be such a variety of voices in Dissent, New Republic, even American Prospect…” (2013)  “Thanks. Today’s posts, from Smoler on down, indispensable.” (2015)

KATE MILLETT: “I adore First of the Month and want more… A splendid read – do keep trucking.”

THOM BABE: “Unique. Filling a void between the NY Review of Books and The Nation, a left lean with sex appeal. I’m sure Tim Mayer would be proud to be seen in your pages.”

PHILIP LEVINE: “Readable as hell.”

ELLEN WILLIS: “Good issue. I enjoyed Smoler and O’Brien who is a real high-style ranter. (Best I’ve read since Camille Paglia. I’m not being sarcastic.)”

ADAM HOCHSCHILD: “The issues you sent kept me reading for an hour, when I had intended to toss them aside after five minutes…First is eclectic, unpredictable, thoughtful. You’ve made quite a remarkable home for an interesting collection of voices.”

SCOTT SPENCER: “First is alive, sharp, stimulating.” [2002] “Your piece on Kurdish women and Hillary is really strong and important.” [2016]

TIMOTHY CROUSE: “Joel DeMott has a great voice, and gets right down to basics that others gloss over.”

MICHAEL BROD: I was startled, to-say-the-least, by the breadth and depth of the content at First…16 years….as Leonard Woolf said when asked about his Hogarth Press and how he survived the early years publishing the likes of Freud which sold perhaps 50-100 books a year: “over the years it all adds up.”  First is a stunning achievement.

JEFFERSON COWIE: “Mark Dudzic’s review of [Cowie’s] Stayin’ Alive in First of the Month is one of the most scathing I’ve read but I…can’t argue with much of it. He’s serious, sympathetic, and intellectually alive in this piece. I really agree that I didn’t adequately capture the mood of an Age when you could get a job anywhere and therefore tell the boss to go to hell when you wanted…[A]n excellent read.”

BOB LEVIN: “David Golding’s recent piece was as exciting and mind battering a word assemblage as I have run into. I’m not sure what Golding’s saying; he lost me at ‘abulic’ and ‘hebephrenic’ (does that have something unpleasant to do with Jews?) but I keep being drawn again and again to it. (It’s as close as I’ve come to a verbal, mid-1960s John Coltrane solo in a while.)

SCOTT MCLEMEE: “[W]e can go ahead and describe First as inheriting the legacy of the New York Intellectuals… but it may be time to recognize and respect First for what it is in its own right: a journal of demotic intelligence, alive to its own times, with insights and errors appropriate to those times, making it worth the price of perplexity.”


JULIAN BOND: “[Amiri] Baraka and [Charles] Payne…are great.” (1999) “Lorenzo Thomas’ ‘Back in the Day’ was FINE!” (2005)

THOMAS BELLER: “Your publication is pretty great.” [2003] [Benj DeMott’s”Roots Moves”] was intense…I mean, the struggle!” [2015]

CHRISTINE STANSELL: “Great issues…Your Sept 11 issue was the only thoughtful response I saw from the Left. Greil Marcus’s article was a classic. And this new issue is terrific too.”

JONATHAN KOZOL: “I like First of the Month…It’s strong, sophisticated, gutsy.”

PETER GURALNICK: “Really enjoyed the paper. Liked the [Sam] Cooke piece too. I disagreed with some parts…but it was well and vigorously argued.”

FRANK RICH: “I do like First of the Month. Congratulations and keep it coming!”

ROBERT FARRIS THOMPSON: “Wonderful…You now have one of the liveliest and most relevant discourses going on in American print in your pages.”

JOHN SZWED:  Dynamite piece on Ritz’s Aretha book, which I might otherwise not have read. So fine, and so evocative!

GEORGE SCIALABBA “Just read your Trayvon piece. Excellent.”

RICHARD MELTZER: “The A.B. Spellman poems were great!”

PHIL GREENE:  Two from Bob Levin: he’s on fire!  Excellent and powerful (and funny).

JOHN LELAND: “Another excellent issue! Loved Reed on WJ Wilson.” (2001) “God Love Armond White.” (2006)

THOMAS BENDER: “First of the Month is a wonderfully lively magazine, with provocative ideas popping out everywhere. There is in it a sense of energy and of fun, along with political seriousness.”

HOWARD ZINN: “The latest issue of First is terrific. Too many good pieces for me to single out any – but the Just Another War pictures and text is especially powerful.”

HANS KONING: “The real New Left (not the Clinton/Blair babble) needs a new vocabulary. First of the Month is building it.”(1999) “Very impressive.” (2005)

SYLVIA WYNTER: “First of the Month is excellent and a delight to read…It assured me the dream of transforming the world is still alive and kicking.”

WILLIAM GREIDER: “Your paper has an engaging mix of cultural-political currents. Your free-spirited approach seems exactly attuned to the times – when all the old idols are falling and some are already stuffed in museums.”

JOE CONASON: “I enjoyed First of the Month.”

NAT HENTOFF: “Very good stuff… [First is] more and more impressive.”

DANNY SCHECHTER: “The newspaper is great.”

CHARLES SCRIBNER III: [O’Brien’s critique of George Steiner] “is erudite, witty and devastating…makes Jonathan Swift look like a lapdog.”

NOAM CHOMSKY: “Good luck on First of the Month (particularly enjoyed piece on Steiner)…Looks like a very promising endeavor!”

RICHARD GOLDSTEIN: “First of the Month contains serious essays on the culture…Unlike so much of what passes for alternative journalism, these cultural dispatches carry a distinctively, but not didactically, political edge.” (2002) “I LOVED your essay. A very astute commentary…”(2016)

TOM CARSON: “If reading First of the Month‘s take on him doesn’t drive Dan Rather to look for a new job as a circus geek – then let’s face it, nothing will.”

JEAN BETHKE ELSHTAIN: “Russell Jacoby’s words on the terrorists are spot on!”

JOHNNY RAY HOUSTON: “Arts writing divorced from the publicity machinery and political writing that mixes incite with insight.”

DOUG SIMMONS: “You’ve set a high standard!”

BILL AYERS: “FOTM is an antidote to the flabby thinking and voyeuristic writing that characterizes the diversionary press.”

JEREMY BRECHER: “To paraphrase the piano player in Shoot the Piano Player, “Imagination’s what we need, man.”

DAVID RITZ: “Reading First with great interest and excitement. I especially liked the long riff on Greil Marcus…Loved Charlie Keil’s thoughts on Kosovo.”

NED CHASE: “One of those small periodicals…Crucial in the evolution of ideas and cultural enrichment.”

HAKIM BEY: “I do like First of the Month. It lasts longer than a cup of coffee.”

HERBERT GANS: “Enjoyed First of the Month. Glad it is on the scene.”

JESSE LEMISCH: “Fascinating reading.”

MORRIS DICKSTEIN: “I’m especially pleased that you publish Gene Goodheart’s work, which I consider tremendous—both his political pieces and his personal essays.”

DAN MORGENSTERN: “Great piece on Don Pullen!”

ROBERT PINKSY: “I admire the piece about Don Pullen. It’s moving without obvious moves, and just generally well put together.”

DIANE DI PRIMA: “Such a great pleasure to read Amiri Baraka – especially on the music.”

JON LANDAU: “I’ve been checking out the articles online and enjoying them very much…Continued success with your efforts and I would love to know when new articles and issues are available.”

LAWRENCE GOODWYN: “Best issue yet!”

WHIT STILLMAN: “First of the Month… did a rebuttal to the conservative interpretation of [my] films. It was pretty funny.”

JULES CHAMETZKY: “I am grateful for Kate Millet’s piece…What power in the writing and thinking…and how far away from that we have come. O’Brien and Smoler have written strong and compelling pieces. I applaud all three and the clarity and force with which they present the best case on the [Danish Cartoon] issue.”

DANNY POSTEL: “Fantastic to see the Kate Millett excerpt posted. Bravo!”

JAY CANTOR: “The pieces on [Benjamin DeMott] are rich, generous, nuanced, and fun to read.”

WILLIAM LHAMON: “I was quite moved by essay eulogizing [DeMott]…I printed out the piece, read it over several days, meant to tell you then how much it affected me.” (2006)  Excellent piece on Richards, Keith, precious love.  Best of all is the ending (which surely must have been the beginning for you, which I did not foresee) about your mother’s, father’s, brother’s oceanic love. (2016)

MIKE ROSE: “I got the terrific First of the Month and wanted to tell you how much I liked the essay on [DeMott]. You did a fine job and honored him.”

DEBORAH MEIER: “I loved your pieces about [DeMott]…Your words about his work will live with me; thank you.”

ROBERT CHRISTGAU: “Tom Smucker’s recent book review about the union movement was so wonderful I thought I’d teach it.”

MARK DUDZIC: “Appreciate O’Brien’s piece…You don’t know how many times I’ve had to deal with that kind of self-important, self-referential leftism. And I liked Smucker’s review of Fitch.”

GRACE LEE BOGGS: “Armond White’s review is awesome…Appreciated the analysis of rap.”