WRB—Apr. 23, 2022
At long last, bags
To do list:
We were gratified to find in Alan Jacob’s review of W.H. Auden’s corpus in Harper's the inclusion of the poet’s late in life dismissal of “September 1, 1939”: “trash which [I am] ashamed to have written.” [William Maxwell, The New Yorker’s poetry editor, thought something similar when Auden first submitted the poem. He rejected it on the grounds that it was too long. —Nic]
The BBC turned 100 this year, and both The New Yorker and our imperial cousin have some thoughts about its future. And while we’re on that topic, Kyle Paoletta in The Nation wonders what’s next for the New York Times Book Review.
In the American Conservative, Wells King examines NASCAR’s fall from grace. [For years I thought my first memory was 9/11. But recently I discovered I have one previous memory: Dale Earnhardt’s death, which was a national tragedy in its own right. —Nic]
In Maclean’s, the story of the most prolific fish poacher on the West Coast.
April 25 & May 2, 2022 SHOUTS & MURMURS Review:
“Mario” by Simon Rich
A four-page S&M! If you’ve been waiting for a chance to read 4000 words in the Italian plumber voice, it is truly your lucky day.
[I liked. —Chris] [Co-sign. —Nic]
One of the Managing Editors [—Nic], along with Jack Butler, a loyal WRB reader, was interviewed for a documentary about a rash of UFO sightings in 1966 in Southern Michigan.
A graphic designer recently made a map of Washington, D.C., using its book stores as landmarks. He declined, however, to rank them. We have no such compunction: Second Story is the best [Its Rockville location is even better. —Nic], and everywhere else is just lucky to have loyal patrons. [I’m coming around on Capitol Hill a little. —Chris] [Nice location; good selection. Not bad. —Nic]
Get a jump on holiday shopping: Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s art collection is going up for auction.
From Emily Post’s Etiquette:
If you know anyone who is always in demand, not only for dinners, but for trips on yachts and visits to country houses, you may be very sure of one thing—that popular person is first of all unselfish or else extremely gifted, and very often both.
What we’re reading:
A reader convinced Chris to pull The Name of the Rose off the shelf. That’s as far as that got. He also read the introductions to J R and The Recognitions while Nic was sitting in his living room yesterday. New issues of Harper’s and Liberties arrived recently, and he’s excited to look through those this weekend.
Nic used the Metro for the first time since last year and had a blast. He rode a large chunk of the Red Line and read The Recognitions. He was quite taken by it. His wife finds Gaddis tedious, but she is out of town for the next week, so he’ll probably just binge this brick.
He also found a copy of Salvation on Sand Mountain in a Little Free Lending Library. If you haven’t read it, you should. [Co-sign. —Chris]
May 10 | Verso
Girl Online: A User Manual
by Joanna Walsh
From The Paris Review: A woman is a woman, to borrow from Godard, but once she’s online, argues Joanna Walsh in her new book-length essay, Girl Online: A User Manual, she becomes a girl. In a series of meditations and “thought experiments” exploring motherhood, blogs, women’s writing, and the meaning of work both on and off the screen, Walsh examines the relationship between looking and being looked at, watching and being watched, that is inherent to both the internet and femininity. “What’s a girl to do with communication technology?” she asks. “I mean both, ‘Why is a girl like a screen?’ and ‘What is she doing in front of it / on it?’ ” The answer is clear, Walsh explains, in a passage that draws from Marshall McLuhan’s Understanding Media: “Selling herself, of course.”
“Hard Night” by Osip Mandelstam, translated by Christian Wiman
Hard night. Homer. Homeless sails.
I’ve listened to the list of ships in my own voice.
I've seen, as my own voice fails,
Those strange cranes arrowing sorrowing over Hellas.
Ever alien, ever more interior, these shores,
And the sun-flecked, god-picked wings glinting spray—
Anxiety’s army, ghost souls of Achaea,
Without your one longing, what is dying for?
The singer and the sea, all things are moved by love.
But what is that to me? Homer is dead.
And a wall of silence, eerily eloquent,
Breaks like a black wave above my bed.
The WRB Classifieds:
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