WRB–Feb. 26, 2022
Bombs, Blurbs, Brawls, and Beaus
The Print Edition of the Washington Review of Books stretches across the Anacostia and Potomac rivers. Its margins were defined by treaty long ago, and its spine lies along the National Mall, permanently creased where it drapes over the Capitol dome. Its articles are set in a somewhat-gauche neoclassical font, its classifieds bordered with somewhat-garish color. Indeed in every respect, at least certain mystes aver, the Print Edition is identical to the District of Columbia itself.
To do list:
Follow us on Twitter [Or Instagram now, for some reason.], ask your therapist if heʼs [or sheʼs. —Chris] subscribed to the WRB yet, delete Hinge [or Coffee Meets Bagel. —Chris] from your phone, for you have found your beau in our classified ads, about which more is said at the bottom of this email, and, for technical reasons, send us a good Tiktok here: firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the New York Times, Mark Binelli tells the story of the big characters and uncertain details surrounding a deadly 2015 biker brawl in Waco, Texas. The Times also has a lush photofeature up on modern book manufacturing. It’s a shame about the paper shortages threatening “a standardization of trim sizes, paper usage, cover stocks, and more” (Publisher’s Weekly).
Related: in the LRB Jo-Ann Wallace has a short reflection on typing, typesetting, and the “surprising intimacy” of typing up an author’s entire book. [The granular, point-level familiarity, resembling obsession, with an author’s peculiar style is something I enjoy or suffer whenever I take on a typesetting project. One day I will solve the mystery of DFW’s number signs. —Chris]
Beginning with a reference to that great novel of the television, James Webster reconsiders what the true “internet novel” might look like.
Related: anonymously in The Critic, “Why modern novels are so boring.” It might be their “failure to recognise that the novel is essentially a bourgeois art form.” [Northrop Frye quips in his polemic opening Anatomy of Criticism that “Most critical efforts to handle such generic terms as ‘epic’ or ‘novel’ are chiefly interesting as examples of the psychology of rumor.”]
In Bookforum, Conor Williams has quite a fun interview with Stuart Jeffries.
The city of Joliet, Illinois, on Lake Michigan, is running out of water, Adam Mahoney reports in Grist.
Feb. 28, 2022 SHOUTS & MURMURS Review:
“Dear Ethicist, I’ve Planted Two Bombs on Two Busses” by Dennard Dayle
Genuinely kind of funny.
May these words always be on your lips: The New York Sun is Back.
“Rodney Stotts Used to Hustle Drugs in Southeast DC. Now He’s One of the Few Black Master Falconers in America.” That’s very cool. Washingtonian [The other publication Washington lives by. —Chris] has an excerpt from his memoir.
The WRB is available 24/7, but Low-tech Magazine is not, because their website is, charmingly, solar powered.
For The Spectator’s Book Club podcast this week, Richard Davenport-Hines and Merve Emre (if you remember this New Yorker essay on Ulysses which several readers voiced their appreciation for) discuss one hundred years of literary modernism.
What we’re reading:
Chris had a reader (subscribe to his Substack!) press on him a copy of Sheila Hetiʼs Motherhood last weekend, and was told that it is “weird”—promising—and it is! Elena Ferranteʼs The Lost Daughter is vacation literature, in the sense that, like Death in Venice, it is about being driven mad by a family at the beach.
Nic is living his Shakespeare promise: As You Like It and Titus Andronicus are his current bedside reading. He picked up Martin Stannard’s biography of Muriel Spark, and, as with most overstuffed biographies, has found that it's easier to read by starting with the index.
Hackett | March
by Plato, translated by C. D. C. Reeve
A blurb: “This is a superb new translation that is remarkably accurate to Plato’s very difficult Greek, yet clear and highly readable. The notes are more helpful than those in any other available translation of the Laws since they contain both the information needed by the beginning student as well as analytical notes that include references to the secondary literature for the more advanced reader. For either the beginner or the scholar, this should be the preferred translation.”
—Christopher Bobonich, Clarence Irving Lewis Professor of Philosophy, Stanford University
[Leo Strauss claims somewhere to have read in Avicenna, somewhere, that the standard work on prophecy and revelation is Plato’s Laws]
“Professor’s Daughter” by Arvid Shulenberger
Born with an allergy,
Born with a doom of
In her bones,
Consigned to sophistication,
And Chaplin movies,
She tours the world
Of books and eye-glasses
An unfortunate nymph
Too far from the forest.
From Ancient Music
[Ancient Music and Other Poems was printed in an edition of five hundred copies from Caldonia type on Warren’s Olde Style Book paper at The Allen Press in Lawrence, K.S., in 1960. Another gem:
To write a poem so dead
That it could be embalmed without struggle
In an Oxford Book of Entirely Respectable Verse.
He’s funny. Many decades ago he signed my copy to someone, seemingly without ceremony. —Chris]
The WRB Classifieds:
To place an ad, email email@example.com or DM @washingreview on Twitter. Rates are 1¢ per word, per issue. Content is subject to the approval of the Managing Editors.
Depressed, uninspired writer seeks muse: a mind on fire with the beauty of this fading world, open to intense conversation and becoming the object of unrequited obsession. Ideal candidate will have their own creative pursuits and an on/off flirtation with the edge of sanity. Must be completely unattainable. [Email WRB with subject line “Seeking Derangments”]
In NOVA: Young man, Christian, in finance, needs fiancé. 6ʼ3”. Melancholic. Dog dad seeking dog mom. [Email WRB with subject line “Doggone It!”]
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”]
Obscene poet seeks female audience to horrify. E.g.:
Roses are red
And Helen—I kissed her.
But Homer omits
Her hot younger sister.
[Email WRB with subject: “Irascere Iterum Meis Iambis”]
Male (27) seeking dreamers, mad prophets, literary types with bold poetic vision to found an intentional community in upstate New York. Experience working soil a plus, but by no means required. Angelic dispositions preferred. We can make it work this time. [Email WRB with subject: “Work of Human Hands”]
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”]
Single male (23) seeking female to apply to the Claremont Institute’s Lincoln Fellowship with me. All my male friends have already met the requirements of a Lincoln Fellow and used all of their stipends as dowries. Frankly, I do not want to become a Lincoln Fellow; I hate all the Californians and Lincoln. But my dignity compels me to apply. Please join me. [Email WRB with subject: “New Birth of Freedom”]
Columbia Heights Rowhouse (f125) seeks resident for one of six bedrooms (ideally m27+) to replace housemate pulled into Brookland’s gravitational field. Available immediately. Must love antics. [Email WRB with subject: “Egg and Dart Era”]
Aging millennial looking for a piano teacher near Fairfax. [Email WRB with subject: “Tickling the Ivories”]
Rockville parents looking for evening sitter for 15 m/o. For details email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor of agriculture publication looking for freelance reporters interested in farming, supply chains, markets. Pays competitively. For details email email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Join several of WRB’s loyal readers at the St Joseph’s Day Catholic Art and Music Festival on March 19. [Calling an audible here, let’s say pictures in classifieds are $1 going forward. —Chris]
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Want to learn Latin, Ancient Greek, or Biblical Hebrew? Skip the silly apps. Take an online class with the Ancient Language Institute. We get our students reading, speaking, and listening to the language on the first day of class. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you can learn one of these “dead languages” when you study it like it’s a living method of communication instead of a linguistic fossil. Group classes and one-on-one Tutorials are available. Scheduling is flexible. Perfect for students, clergy, working professionals, and retirees. Learn more at ancientlanguage.com.
Critically acclaimed visionary filmmaker Joe Pappalardo demands you watch RODENT KING.
Pray the Rosary daily!