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:
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.
In Tacoma, WA: Energetic, creative, and voracious reader (F24) seeks nice Catholic boy with a sense of humor and openness to adventure. Cat lover a plus. [Email WRB with subject “Pugetaboudit”]
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”]
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?”]
Executive Director at Lincoln network seeking Research Editor to support him and rest of the team. Position can be remote, salary is $60–80k, benefits are good, including unlimited PTO. If you are like technology, know what MITI is, write and research well, and are literate, please email email@example.com with a pitch for yourself.
Mid-20s parents looking for young, unmarried Catholic woman who’s interested in children and wants to be in the DC area long term.
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.
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!