WRB—July 13, 2022
Podcasts, cooking, new magazines, new news, new sales, new everything, a new you!
In the Print Edition of the Washington Review of Books, the margins are generous and the pages dyed a pleasant yellow using a proprietary process. The binding never cracks in an unpleasant way, and the cover is coated just so as to never pick up fingerprints. The Classified Ads are printed in the customary place, right in the back cover so you can flip to them first, and set in such tiny type that you have no doubt you could find someone special if you squint and apply yourself. The Managing Editors of the Print Edition are stunningly good-looking, which is why they are rarely seen. Otherwise it is exactly the same, down to the last hyperlink, which, try as hard as you press your finger through the pages, leaving holes and shreds of paper, will never get you where you truly want to go.
To do list:
Follow us on Twitter [Or Instagram. Or Facebook.] to keep up with the Barely-Managing WRB Summer Intern [Who promises he’s going to “promote the hell out of that email” this morning; I will note the Managing Exorcism is not in the job description. —Chris];
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;
and we would like to note that this Prime Day, a subscription [Online-only, natch.] to the Washington Review of Books is as cheap as it has ever been, so,
At Lithub Gabriel Pasquini has a feature on “the most ambitious literary podcast in the history of the world,” Doug Metzger’s Literature and History, a project of admirable, if dizzying, scope. [On par with a biweekly email newsletter, I’d say. —Chris]
Love is in the air, on the stove, whatever, it’s July, things are heating up [Mixing a metaphor? (Get it? It is very late at night.) For love in the water, see the Poem. —Chris]. Bettina Makalintal writes for Eater about food-themed romance novels, and C.J. Hauser reflects on the history of her exes recorded in the margins of her cookbook.
One more food: Dan Kois has a history of OXO-brand kitchen gadgets at Slate.
In the first issue of The European Review of Books [About which more in “What we’re reading,” for subscribers.], Walter Grünzweig considers the literary career of Germany’s current vice-chancellor, novelist-statesman Robert Habeck: “An author who becomes second-in-command in one of Europe’s most powerful nations is something extraordinary. . . . He has pondered aesthetics and genre theory; we wonder which political genres he will fit, and which he might break. He promises newness — but a newness of what? How experimental can a literary politician be?” [I also enjoyed reading Linda Kinstler in review of Lea Ypi and Maggie Nelson’s recent books on freedom, of which Nelson’s at least was fairly controversial (I mentioned enjoying Bluets months ago); Alexander Fanta’s essay on the complex and threatening relationship between Google and traditional publishing, “Optimize this headline for Google” (a topic you can also hear Nic discuss on the Lamp podcast, see the N.B.); Noga Arikha on deleting a chat history and the impulse to horde mementos (paywalled online, but here’s the kicker graf); Irina Dumitrescu’s hidden little filler column on celebrity (and her recent TLS column on unexpected encounters with the middle ages, and her Substack post about social media), and Claire Weeda’s fun little column about medieval insult-training. And, hey, “the Bee Gees Summa Theologica.” —Chris]
[Please let us know if you like it when we just go through a whole magazine and say what’s good. Email us! firstname.lastname@example.org.]
Anyway, in the new issue of The Drift, Gaby Del Valle’s piece on Disney’s foray into housing development, Piper French’s cutting review of the much-commented-on book about a much-commented-on child, Raising Raffi, and especially Oscar Schwartz’ survey of the literature and film of midlife crises, male and female, and the symposium on the state of literary fiction already mentioned in this space some weeks ago, were all well worth reading.
There is to be a game show for novelists. Prize money is $2500, which is more than you make writing an email newsletter.
And, sure, there’s an Emily Dickinson video game.
The University of Notre Dame Press has its summer sale on right now, 40% off print books. You can get those Solzhenitsyn volumes they began putting out a few years ago, their really nice hardcover Newman series, the new biography of Alasdair MacIntyre [Newly-translated, please. —Chris], and a lot of other stuff.
And n+1 is offering a subscription bundle deal with BOMB. The WRB is pleased to offer a similar bundle deal: for just $5 more per month, we’ll let you know if there’s anything good.
The guy who does the Song Exploder podcast is launching one for books.
The Lamp has a podcast now, too.
News of record:
But business lunches sure aren’t. [Except for WRB editorial meetings, we assume.]
July 19 | Catapult
Dead Souls: A Novel
by Sam Riviere
From the publisher: For readers of Roberto Bolaño’s Savage Detectives and Muriel Spark’s Loitering with Intent, this “sublime” and “delightfully unhinged” metaphysical mystery disguised as a picaresque romp follows one poet’s spectacular fall from grace to ask a vital question: Is everyone a plagiarist? (Nicolette Polek, author of Imaginary Museums).
A scandal has shaken the literary world. As the unnamed narrator of Dead Souls discovers at a cultural festival in central London, the offender is Solomon Wiese, a poet accused of plagiarism. Later that same evening, at a bar near Waterloo Bridge, our narrator encounters the poet in person, and listens to the story of Wiese’s rise and fall, a story that takes the entire night—and the remainder of the novel—to tell.
Wiese reveals his unconventional views on poetry, childhood encounters with “nothingness,” a conspiracy involving the manipulation of documents in the public domain, an identity crisis, a retreat to the country, a meeting with an ex-serviceman with an unexpected offer, the death of an old poet, a love affair with a woman carrying a signpost, an entanglement with a secretive poetry cult, and plans for a triumphant return to the capital, through the theft of poems, illegal war profits, and faked social media accounts—plans in which our narrator discovers he is obscurely implicated.
Dead Souls is a metaphysical mystery brilliantly encased in a picaresque romp, a novel that asks a vital question for anyone who makes or engages with art: Is everyone a plagiarist?
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.