James Bond, Jonathan Franzen And The Best Autumn / Winter Style

Editor-in-chief Alex Bilmes introduces our October issue

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Believe it or not we do try, here at Esquire, not to go in for triumphalist trumpet blowing or excessive, narcissistic self-regard. Honest, we do. We try really, really hard.

But sometimes, gentle reader, we fail. This month, I'm afraid to say, is one of those occasions. So if you are on the whole, and quite rightly, allergic to shameless self-promotion and egregious back-slapping, flamboyant fist bumping, hearty high-fiving and all the rest of it, then I urge you to skip straight to the paragraph a bit further down, beginning with the sentence: "But enough of that unseemly preening..."

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Still here? Don't say I didn't warn you.

I've written before in this space about awards, and especially awards ceremonies: the morality-shredding meretriciousness of them, obviously, but more than that the knuckle-gnawing boredom and toe-curling mortification of them. All that warm white vino collapso, all that irradiated beef, all those awful outfits, all those endless speeches, all those mirthless topical "jokes" told by all those Z-list comperes. Of course, it's easy to be cynical and jaded and snobby about awards – believe me, it really is – until you win one. At those moments, they seem like a very good idea indeed. Suddenly, the plonk tastes sweeter, the flambéed fish-chicken dish seems tastier, and the fact that you are dressed like a provincial hotel waiter ceases to be a cause for discomfort or concern. You are a winner. In a cummerbund, true. But still a winner.

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The PPA Writer of the Year is the most prestigious award for journalism in British magazines and in the four years we've been eligible for it, since we rebooted Esquire in 2011, we've won it three times. Will Self won it for his writing in Esquire in 2012, Tim Lewis won in 2014, and, in July of this year, Will Self won again. (Let's pretend 2013 didn't happen, shall we?)

In the same period we received more nominations for PPA writing awards than any other magazine – men's, women's or Horse & Hound. That Esquire dream team in full: Sanjiv Bhattacharya (twice), Giles Coren (twice), Johnny Davis, Dan Davies, AA Gill (three times!) and Jeremy Langmead have all, since 2012, been shortlisted for PPAs for their writing in Esquire.

It's almost embarrassing, isn't it? I mean, come on other magazines! Commission some decent words why don't you? But actually I'm not embarrassed. It's gratifying when good work is recognised and rewarded, and all those mentioned have, over the past few years, supplied Esquire – and you – with elegant, incisive, witty, irreverent journalism. Long may they continue to do so.

That said, the writing isn't, I hope, the only strength of Esquire. (And these aren't the only awards we've won in this period. Heavens, no! We've also won gongs for design, digital, sub-editing, landscape gardening and, I believe, cake baking.)

Another thing we pride ourselves on: getting the big exclusive interviews that others can only gnash their teeth and stamp their feet about – before hastily cobbling together a spoiler.

As I think I've mentioned in the interview on page 164 – possibly more than once – this is not the first time Daniel Craig has appeared on the cover of Esquire. In fact, since that 2011 reboot, this is his third appearance. The last time was in the autumn of 2012 when he was promoting Skyfall, his third film as James Bond, which went on to gross more than $1bn worldwide, almost double the best of any previous Bond, and become the most successful film of any kind to date at the British box office.

Daniel and his team chose Esquire for the exclusive Bond photoshoot and interview on that occasion and they've done so again, for Spectre, the new movie, which will be released in British cinemas on 26 October.

You can make of that decision what you will. But I must say I feel quite flattered about the fact that just as James Bond chooses Aston Martin for his wheels, Omega for his wristwatch and Belvedere vodka for his martini, so he chooses Esquire for his men's magazine.

You may see Daniel on the cover of other glossy monthlies in the weeks and months to come but only Esquire gets its own, straight-from-the-secret-agent's-mouth insight into the making of the most anticipated blockbuster of the season.

Those of you who, like 007, enjoy top-notch writing will, I hope, find plenty of that in this issue, too. Both Will Self and Tim Lewis contribute to our special Esquire Eats section, alongside our globetrotting food editor, Tom Parker Bowles. Tim also conducts a very lively interview with the pre-eminent American novelist of the day, Jonathan Franzen. Our columnists AA Gill and Jeremy Langmead are in their usual places, alongside Russell Norman. Will Storr, another fine Esquire writer, has a remarkable story about one man's utopian dream slash massive midlife crisis. (Aren't all midlife crises utopian dreams? Maybe so.) And, of course, we offer everything you would expect in the way of cars and culture, fashion and fitness, sport and style, gadgets and grooming.

But enough of that unseemly preening…

Oh, dear. Out of space. Shame.

– Alex Bilmes
Editor-in-Chief

Esquire's October issue is out in newsagents now, or subscribe online.