Hi, I’m Brian, and I’m a Next Issue convert. I’ve been writing for magazines for 12 years and reading them a lot longer. I was a freelancer for the better part of a decade, contributed to publications like Audubon, Outside, Sierra, Men’s Journal, and Travel + Leisure. These days I’m an editor and staff writer at Down East: The Magazine of Maine, not far from the coastal village where I live here in the Pine Tree State.
Flipping through my Next Issue app most evenings is a weird, paradoxical time for me, insofar as it’s both cherished downtime and an essential part of my professional development. Opening the app gives me the same little thrill I get wandering through a really excellent newsstand—so many possibilities, so many good stories, and such a broad range of topics.
That broadness is a big part of what attracts me to magazine writing. I often write somewhere at the intersection of environmental policy, travel, and the outdoors, and I’m a big cheerleader for national parks and public lands. I’m also interested in Latin America, where I traveled pretty extensively recently while researching my book The Footloose American: Following the Hunter S. Thompson Trail Across South America.
We live in a golden age of magazine feature writing, and I hope you enjoy seeing my interests reflected in the picks below. Happy Reading!
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On A Quest
I look way, way up to Michael Paterniti, truly one of the best longform storytellers in the field. It’s interesting to see him apply his reporting and narrative skills to a tragic incident from his own adolescence. This piece is a search for understanding—understated and thoughtful, with great pacing.
A Liar Standing Next to a Hole in the Ground
Outside was my first magazine love, and this story of a quixotic search for gold in the mountains of Arizona is reminiscent of the classic adventure tales the mag built its reputation on. Prospector Flint Carter is the kind of character a writer dreams of running into.
24 Hours at the Waffle House
All immersive journalism is a quest, in a sense—a search for perspective. Andrew Knowlton’s perspective here is from behind the grill at the Waffle House, where he launches into a wry sociological investigation of the famed 24-hour restaurant chain of his Southern upbringing.
How Crazy Am I to Think I Actually Know Where That Malaysia Airlines Plane Is?
It’s maybe the most overexposed quest in recent memory: the search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. Here, a science writer turned cable news pundit reflects on the circus of coverage he became a part of and floats his own theory, but the piece’s heart is its meditation on the nature of certainty.
Parks & Rec
Grand Canyon on the Edge
I’m a sucker for muckraking that lays bare threats to public lands, and David Roberts’ piece spells out who stands to lose from a massive recreation development on the rim of the Grand Canyon (the Navajo Nation, several other tribes, pretty much all Americans who value their national treasures). Great photos too.
Birds of Paradise
I’m a wanna-be birder who came to this piece for the knockout photos of Kauai’s lush public lands (that opening waterfall shot—wow!). But I kept reading for author Kamil Bialous’ elegant, slightly mournful descriptions of how a changing ecosystem is affecting the island’s rare tropical birds.
So Good It Hurts
Backpacker is such an aspirational read every month. They could save themselves a lot of time and just title every article, “You Really Want To Go Here.” Ted Alvarez’s story about hiking in British Columbia’s Spatsizi Plateau Wilderness Provincial Park had me looking at plane tickets. My god, those are some mountains.
This feature is a perfect pairing to hook a public-lands nerd like me: Mountain-porn photos paired with a story of how forward-thinking land-use policies can preserve the playgrounds we love. When a ranch owner at the end of this piece described his transformation into a trails advocate, I did a little fist pump.
Tales of Latin America
Lost in the Jungle
Damon Tabor reports on a renowned adventurer’s search for his missing son in an untamed corner of Costa Rica. This is a powerful piece about love, legacy, and what it means to be wild, and I’m not ashamed to say it had me crying in a bar last week.
An insightful, if by-the-numbers look at Cuzco, Peru, just down the valley from the breathtaking circus that is Machu Picchu. It’s a city that both benefits and suffers from its status as the beating heart of the Gringo Trail in South America, and I find it kind of fascinating.
Drug Trafficking for Dummies
A short report about how the arrest of one of Mexico’s most notorious drug lords has affected violence in Juarez, street crime in Chicago, the heroin market in Europe, and so on. The butterfly effect of the Latin American drug trade never ceases to impress me.
The Tip of the Diamond
I’ve never even held a surfboard, but I tend to love many of the same places that surfers do. This piece about a peninsula in Chile—once pristine and now increasingly attracting tourists and developers—addresses the irony that sometimes it’s our love for a place that puts it in danger.