As a lad of advancing age, I was distressed to see Jessica Lange, one of the crushes of my youth, on the cover of More. Doesn't every celeb who claims that slot have to be at least, like, 52? And what of my other daydream mainstays, like Debbie Harry and Catherine Bach and Bernadette Peters (only in "The Jerk")? How old are they now? Fifty-nine? Sixty-seven? We're all going to die soon.

Mortality-related musings aside, I grabbed the July/August issue of More to sate my curiosity about how older-aiming women's mags stack up against their younger siblings. To be honest, there's not a whole lot of difference on the surface. More boasts the same structure (blurbs/features/more blurbs), the same topical palette (fashion, health, beauty, relationships), the same design (a few splashes of color, a token pull-quote per story, uniformly smiley-faced models), and the same warm, embracing-who-we-are-because-we-are-embraceable outlook.

Somehow, this formula seems to work better in a publication aimed at an older audience. I wouldn't describe More as especially artful or ambitious, but it's focused, grounded, and more or less consistent in tone. In today's schizophrenic magazine climate, in which Popular Mechanics shouts out to 24-year-olds and Lucky finds a way to plug Home Depot, it's refreshing to find a publication that has a sharply defined sense of mission.

The lunch sit-down with Lange headlines the July/August More, and with good reason: It's far and away the best thing in it, owing to the participation of novelist/media gadfly Jay McInerney. More might not be the first place one looks for elegant wordcraft, but few women's-mag staff writers can frame images as precisely and evocatively as, "[Lange] illustrates her speech with sinuous and intricate hand gestures, as if she is conducting a simultaneous translation of her remarks into sign language."

The problem, of course, is that the rest of the issue's prose seems clunky by comparison. The three recollections of time spent at family retreats suffer from what-I-did-during-summer-break loginess, while David L. Marcus' recollection of the factors that motivated his decision to get a nose job at 44 doesn't illuminate much about the male species, other than that maybe we've underestimated its capacity for self-involved whining.

These pieces, however, feel like rhetorical pièces de résistance compared with the quickie beach-reading wrap-up, which begins with the astonishingly silly flourish, "So many titles, so few daiquiris." Kids, we have a lot of fun in this space, but let me say it once again: Don't drink and read. The consequences just aren't worth it.

Where More excels is in its choice of story subjects. Whether the "Body + Mind" comprehensive look at malignant melanoma or the "Second Acts" piece on a mom-turned-hotelier, little in the July/August issue feels superfluous. Most interesting to me, as both a former mooch and eventual dad, is the feel-your-pain summit with parents still picking up the tab for their adult kids. Similar pieces usually preach either the tough-love or give-'til-it-hurts gospels; this one doesn't view the topic in terms of one extreme or the other.

While the issue swings and misses with two of its other larger features - a "haircolor report" that has a vaguely (and likely unintentionally) "Daily Show" feel to it and a feature on jeans that does little besides celebrate a quintet of bony-assed gals - the point remains: More aspires to being something more than an airy waiting-room read. Between More and Best Life, in fact, readers in the 40-and-up bracket have better reason to rush to the mailbox than their Generation X and Y counterparts.

Next story loading loading..