WRB—Apr. 13, 2022
We will mail you a book.
[You probably received Wednesday’s newsletter again on Friday and received Saturday’s newsletter twice in a row. Substack says they’ve fixed the issues they are having. Sorry about that, if anyone found it especially annoying or otherwise distressing.
In recompense, if you’re the first to email us twice in a row after this newsletter is published, we’ll send you a book of our choice (with a WRB sticker).]
No books were harmed in the writing of this newsletter. Nor were they really even reviewed.
To do list:
Tell us where you buy your Jordan almonds.
There’s a photo feature from the NYT about old bookstores. We haven’t been to any of them. More interesting to us [In except from the book featured last month]: “What Kind of Bookstore Browser Are You?” on Slate. The Point has an interview with the author here. The Managing Editors, we assure you, are quite familiar with books we haven’t read.
In Commonweal, Paul Griffiths appreciates Shirly Hazzard.
The description of Gibbon in this essay made one Managing Editor’s eyes bug out a little.
Irina Dumitrescu has a brief entry in the immortal genre “what’s good words,” from the supplement.
You can read in Foreign Policy about an author with “a rare power: the ability to predict at least the general form of the future.” [It’s Houellebecq. —Chris]
The Titanic Memorial is holding a gala commemorating the 110th anniversary of the ocean liner’s sinking. [We are confident that it will be a significantly more dour affair than the WRB’s own gala.] [The 110th anniversary WRB gala will be one for the ages. —Chris]
A man in the Palisades is selling a working eight track player with a surprisingly extensive collection of Billy Joel tapes.
[Spoiler Alert] There are Classified Ads at the end of this email.
Book sales are down. We can’t imagine this is because we’ve been reviewing them poorly, so your Manigerial-Editorial consciences are clear.
Le Monde, which one of the Managing Editors [Nic] reads daily, is launching an English language version of its website in the hopes of turning us into a nation of Francophiles.
The Managing Editors are basically indifferent to the merits of this upcoming Kara Walker exhibition, but we heartily endorse this Destroyer track about her work.
While we’re on the subject of art, the Phillips Collection is running an exhibition on Picasso’s Blue Period through June. [Several years ago, I tried to sneak into a gallery in Montréal to see a few of these paintings; Canadian security guards are more attentive than Americans. —Nic] [After a frustrating experience with our neighbors’ border control several years ago, I would never underestimate their cold perspicacity. —Chris]
Yale will be publishing an “Ancient Lives” series.
This New York Times feature on Kim’s has us wondering: When will the Nation’s Capital revive its video stores?
What we’re reading:
On Saturday morning you may have read about The Employees in this newsletter, and this week Chris read it. He does not know what to say about it. [What I mean is, this is a book full of disconnected statements from a fantastic and sad world, and I have responded strongly to many of its poignant sayings, but describing to you what is going on seems like it would mostly result in critical babble (not implicating the fine piece linked this weekend)…interrogates humanity and inhumanity…a striking reflection on…consistently tests the limits of…Iʼd prefer not to. —Chris]
Nic dipped back into Joseph Mitchell’s collected essays over the weekend. Sometime in his late eighties, Mitchell described himself as an “obsessive” reader of Finnegan’s Wake. Nic is certain that that will never be the case for himself, [Can a Managing Editor not dream? —Chris] but he hopes that when he’s old, he can love Mitchell as much as he did when he was nineteen. On a somewhat related note, he is seriously considering canceling his print subscription to the New York Times.
Nic also received a copy of Matthew Hennessey’s handsome new book, Visible Hand, in the mail. He was glad to find Hennessey correctly noting in his acknowledgments that Encounter Books “really knows how to throw a Christmas party.” [I wouldn’t know. —Chris]
“Sometimes, When the Light” by Lisel Mueller
Sometimes, when the light strikes at odd angles
and pulls you back into childhood
and you are passing a crumbling mansion
completely hidden behind old willows
or an empty convent guarded by hemlocks
and giant firs standing hip to hip,
you know again that behind that wall,
under the uncut hair of the willows
something secret is going on,
so marvelous and dangerous
that if you crawled through and saw,
you would die, or be happy forever.
[I donʼt have bibliographic notes here, because I came by this one honestly, on poetry foundation dot org, because I’ve long loved this poem and was looking for others.
I think the angle of light is the single atmospheric most likely to recall me to my childhood. Air pressures and certain rushing scents do this too, of course, but when the seasons change itʼs the angle of the light every time.
I disagree with the poem above. I donʼt walk past empty convents and mansions very often at all. What I have done is walk into a kitchen in late September and seen the light and known where I was, and have been. The trees around may be of average girth. —Chris]
The WRB Classifieds:
To place an ad, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Rates are 1¢ per word, per issue. Content is subject to the approval of the Managing Editors.
28, male, in D.C. looking for people to be socially anti-social with at either Suns Cinema or the Landmark theaters (usually Chinatown) where tickets are $7 on Mondays and Tuesdays. Not big on horror, but generally does not discriminate by genre. [Email WRB with subject: “The Search”]
In D.C./NOVA: Trained singer and pianist (23F) seeks other amateur musicians to play music together casually, and/or conquer DC’s karaoke scene. Some musical ability is a plus, but altogether unnecessary. [Email WRB with subject: “The Song on a Lark”]
In D.C.: PMC (23M) seeking other disillusioned and disaffected youths to read Infinite Jest with. [Email WRB with subject: “The Library, And Step On It!”]
Wanted: 30ish woman for The National-esque doctor in American midwest. Belief in predestination and disbelief in fibromyalgia preferred. [Email WRB with subject: “Coffee and Flowers”]
In D.C.: Young man has found people to play tennis with, but is leaving an open offer to play. [Email WRB with subject: “Tennis, Anyone?”]
Literate + fit Christian girl, professional engineer in middle America (northwest Arkansas), is open to the idea of meeting marriage-worthy young man. [Email WRB with subject: “Lost in the Beau-zarks”]
Nice Christian girl wanted for nice Christian boy. Him: 25 y/o 6’2” homeowner. Seattle area. Her: Tall a plus. Ex athlete a plus. Must love kids. [Email WRB with subject: “Sleepless in Seattle”]
Mid-20s parents looking for young, unmarried Catholic woman who’s interested in children and wants to be in the DC area long term.
Editorial director at Sentinel seeking editorial assistant to support her and one other editor. Position can be remote, salary is $45k, benefits are good. If you are slightly weird and very organized, write decent copy, and don't get your news from The Daily, please email email@example.com whatever pitch for yourself you think most effective.
DC-local male seeking recommendations for DC-local locales to purchase oddities in the service of bedroom decoration. Economical ideas preferred. [Email WRB with subject “Priceless Moments”]
Man, single, 26, seeking to enter the next phase of life and settle down. Low-maintenance preferred, but open to a fixer-upper. Will travel to meet with respondent. No Mazdas, please. [Email WRB with subject: “Passengers Not Included”]
Aging millennial looking for a piano teacher near Fairfax. [Email WRB with subject: “Tickling the Ivories”]
Freelance copyeditor with 10 years’ professional experience editing everything from poetry to scholarly works on long-dead Native American languages offering services to writers everywhere. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for rates and availability.
Need a host, MC, or just jokes? Contact DC comedian Joe Pappalardo. For tickets to shows and comedy clips, click HERE. Follow him everywhere @pappalardofunny.
Want to start a podcast but have no idea where to start? Contact podcast expert and Washington Review of Books reader Shadrach Strehle! One client called his rates “cheap,” and his work “exceptional.” But don’t take his word for it, try Shad yourself! For info and a consultation contact Shadrach Strehle at email@example.com.
The Militant Grammarian is a non-profit volunteer journal devoted to bringing the best experimental fiction to the web. Our small staff is committed to an aesthetic of bold weirdness and boundary-pushing—the types of stories that other publications might consider too esoteric or theoretical or cerebral. Simply put, we publish stories we love—the stories that we believe deserve to be out in the world. Submit your writing: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Struggle Magazine is a quarterly literary magazine established in Washington, D.C. in 2020. The idea for it started behind a coffee bar from our need to create a tangible expression of what it meant for us to have artistic freedom in this world. We depend on finding contributors and pieces that end up informing one another. We hope that each issue of Struggle comes out buzzing with interesting conversations among artists across genres and mediums that our readers can also participate in. Get the first issue now.
Looking for a podcast that's delightfully unchained from the drudgeries of reality? In every episode of The Readers Karamazov, your hosts the Bastard Sons of Hegel—Karl Bookmarx, Friedrich Peachy, and Søren Rear-Guard—explore the intersection of philosophical thought and literary form in great works of fiction. Each season builds outward from a central anchor book to consider how different works of literature speak to each other over time. Catch up with the entirety of Season 2, “Middlemarch,” now, before Season 3, “The Name of the Rose” begins in April. Listen wherever you get your podcasts, and follow on Twitter @thereadersk.
If you or someone you love is afflicted with a syndrome known as “living in DC” or “considering living in DC,” tell them to talk to their doctor about reading The Girl’s Guide to DC. With just one weekly newsletter, you can get your fill of dating and career advice, DC news, and pop culture by clicking this link.
Pray the Rosary daily!