WRB—Aug. 24, 2022
You're either a famous author or an unjustly neglected genius, there's no in-between.
Mainly the Managing Editors are angry, sensitive, intensely felt, and that dirtiest of all dirty words—promising. So said the Washington Review of Books…August 24, 2022.
To do list:
Order a tote bag;
avail yourself of our world-famous classified ads, now stored on this page for non-paying readers to access, either by placing or responding to one;
For Vanity Fair, Lili Anolik writes about the life and times of Eve Babitz and Joan Didion: “The boxes were pristine, the seals of duct tape unbroken. Inside: journals, photos, scrapbooks, manuscripts, and letters. No, inside a lost world. This world turned for a certain number of years in the late ’60s and early ’70s, and was centered in a two-story rental in a down-at-heel section of L.A. The Franklin Avenue scene, I call it for reasons that will become apparent. And it had all the explosive vitality that the scene at Les Deux Magots on the Left Bank had for Ernest Hemingway and his fellow Lost boys. It was the making of one great American writer, the breaking and then the remaking—and thus the true making—of another. These two writers were friends. Enemies as well.”
Barbara Lane for the San Francisco Chronicle has some notes on the history of the book blurb.
For The Atlantic, Andrew Travers tells the story of how his newspaper in Aspen ceased to exist: “Aspen is strange, but this is a story that could actually take place anywhere. It’s about what happens to the public interest when billionaires collide, and when newsrooms are bullied into suppressing coverage by people with great mountains of money and battalions of lawyers. And it speaks to a deepening crisis for the free press, which has been comprehensively betrayed in Aspen.”
“I still live in northern New Jersey, and I still find a strange peace in that late-summer melancholy. The awareness that something good is going to end helps me appreciate that it is happening now. If you appreciate this feeling, as I do, there is no better work of fiction than ‘The Swimmer,’ John Cheever’s 1964 story, which teems with the languid sadness of summer’s final act.”—Nick Ripatrazone for Gawker.
For the Sydney Review of Books, Gemma Betros reviews an upcoming biography of Australian writer Elizabeth von Arnim (The Countess from Kirribilli: The mysterious and free-spirited literary sensation who beguiled the world, September): “It seems sadly appropriate that on the back cover of Morgan’s biography her subject’s name is misspelt—three times no less—as ‘Elizabeth von Armin’, a blunder now transferred with the publisher’s summary to bookseller websites and library catalogues around the world.”
For that illustrious supplement, Michael Saler reviews James Patterson by James Patterson: The Stories of My Life (June) by James Patterson, which is a book about a famous author.
And for Astra, Maya Solovej reviews a forthcoming book which Emma Ramadan has translated from the French (Panics, September), which Barbara Molinard actually wrote a long time ago, in 1969: “Like Kafka’s Josef K or K in The Castle her characters pursue a truth that continually evades them, and they are routinely faced with opaque others (masters, clerks, sadistic overlords) who refuse to give them any reason for their suffering. Nevertheless, they hope, perhaps dementedly, for better, more hospitable conditions. Sometimes it seems they long simply to be set free from civilization and delivered into some kind of higher plane or afterlife, a place where ‘everything is silent and pink, and clouds of dead leaves flutter over the sea.’”
Ted Gioia on why he’s publishing his next book on Substack.
We just found this blog that covers covers. [I already have a playlist for these purposes. —Chris] [It’s a shame the Carseat Headrest cover didn’t make the Kate Bush list. —Nic] [The Summer Camp “I Only Have Eyes for You” is a winner though. —Chris]
To this list of (probably) true D.C. conspiracy theories, we’d like to add that it is almost undoubtedly the case that Bill Clinton at least flipped through the copy of Vox that Monica Lewinsky bought for him at Kramerbooks.
“Now I fear disturbance of the quiet seasons: / Winter shall come bringing death from the sea.” [I always tell people that D.C. often has cold winters. No one ever believes me. —Nic]
“Schiffer Publishing has announced the launch of its newest imprint, Schiffer Craft. The new imprint is billed as ‘an expert resource for crafters and makers,’ encompassing crafts including ceramics, textiles, floral design, glass art, woodworking, metal craft, jewelry, leather, painting, and more.” This just seems like the kind of thing up our readers’ collective alley.
Yet another managing editor joins the fold. [There can never be too many. —Nic]
September 27 | Clash Books
by Mark de Silva
From the publisher: In an epic new novel ranging across acting, advertising, professional sports, and the city, Mark de Silva offers up a grand meditation on the bitter glories of 21st century being, the human impulse to search for something original in the cacophony of a continuously replicating world, and the self-revelations living in our perception of others.
Jaded and adrift, a young painter in New York joins his fate to a mercurial titan of industry in the hopes of finding a new form—and quite possibly a new life. Cutting-edge intoxicants, the dance of desire, and a mysterious art magazine with unlimited ambitions all play a role on the ultimate stage, where only delusion can make the chase of mystique bearable.
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to The Washington Review of Books to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.