WRB—July 2, 2022
Video games and Jim Jones and Octavia Butler and Costco are the least of the delights in this issue of the WRB
THE MONUMENTAL DECISION OF THE
UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT
RENDERED JULY 2, 2022, LIFTING THE BAN ON
“THE WASHINGTON REVIEW OF BOOKS.”
[Gorsuch and Kagan dissenting, I’m sure. —Chris]
To do list:
Follow us on Twitter [Or Instagram. Or Facebook.] to keep up with the Barely-Managing WRB Summer Intern [Who has been even less on-the-ball this week than normal… —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 [I am going to reiterate that real people place and respond to our Classified Ads, and that further, people have found jobs through them, and that finally, if you find your love in our virtual pages, the Managing Editors will purchase something quite nice from your wedding registry for you. —Chris]; and,
[I’ve been meaning to mention, if you subscribe, we are happy to comp other members of your household to avoid any awkward disparity between spouses. Just email me if you are a WRB-reading couple. —Chris]
Public Books has three tributes to Octavia E. Butler to mark the 75th year since her birth. Sasha Ann Panaram introduces the series.
In 3311 words for Longreads, Yuxi Lin writes a personal remembrance of Costco. [I saw someone, an old woman actually, camped at the indoor picnic tables that make up the Costco food court in Northeast D.C. this week, with a laptop plugged in and headphones and papers spread out, obviously working, obviously keyed to some sort of energy ordinary people cannot access. —Chris]
Online for The Point, Nicholas Russell has an essay on Jim Jones and Heaven’s Gate, drawn from interviews with Jones’ son Stephan: “It wasn’t until I actually spoke with Stephan that I learned how unwieldy and dark the enterprise of digging through someone’s past could be.”
“A Chinese woman created over 200 fictional articles on Chinese Wikipedia, writing millions of words of imagined history that went unnoticed for more than 10 years.”
Justin Heckert writing for Vanity Fair has a great story about a video game heist: “Trade-N-Games, this pixelated utopia in a suburb of St. Louis, had turned out exactly how he’d imagined it more than 20 years ago. The exception to his vision took the form of the scarred tracks of dolly wheels leading from the back of the store across the blue carpet, crushed into permanence by a 700-pound safe dragged out the door in the middle of the night.”
R.I.P. [It is not now as it hath been of yore. —Nic]
Two sales for the holiday weekend: New Directions is offering 30% off through Monday, and NYRB has their typical tiered scheme up to 40% off going through the same time.
from New Directions, you can pick up Visitation, which is a short novel that has never been totally out of my mind since I read it years ago, Clarise Lispector’s The Hour of the Star, in a handsome-looking new clothbound edition for the author’s centenary, the three-part Sebald set, Szymborska’s little collection of advice columns, How to Start Writing (and When to Stop) (excerpted in the NYRB last August), the Cantos and Paterson;
and from NYRB Classics, there are the new trendy Hardwick collections (see this wonderful essay by Zachary Fine in The Point last year on Hardwick’s marriage to Robert Lowell and his subsequent decision to publish quotations from their private letters in the Pulitzer-winning The Dolphin, and Sasha Frere-Jones’ review of the new Uncollected collection in WRB June 25, 2022—in that same WRB, I quote from Keith Gessen’s introduction to Lucky Jim). I just gushed about Love’s Work in WRB June 22, 2022, and there’s always your Fermor, your John Williams, your big Gaddis books, etc. I’m eyeing The Peregrine, Eve’s Hollywood, and this Walter Benjamin collection, myself. —Chris]
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is raising its prices for out-of-state visitors by $5—coincidentally, the same price as a month’s subscription to the WRB. [Even if you have a nonfunctional library card, they will usually let you in for free. —Nic]
Managing Editors (28/25) seeking new-food correspondent in Irvine, CA to report on the newest Taco Bell menu items. Compensation possible in the form of stickers, complimentary subscriptions, private jokes, etc. [Email WRB with subject “Abellmination”]
Some Gawker writer says that no one likes sandwiches. [They obviously are unaware that it’s just the season for “The Perfect BLT,” with thick slices of heirloom tomato, shredded iceberg lettuce, bacon cooked thin, flat, and crisp, and plenty of mayonnaise spread on both slices of bread. There are other tricks, but they are trade secrets. —Chris]
[I get the 50 Watts Books newsletter every few weeks, and it always has pictures of really gorgeous book covers. I’ve never purchased anything but it seems like something our readers would be into. —Chris]
September 13 | Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Two Nurses, Smoking: Stories
by David Means
From the publisher: Two nurses meet in the hospital parking lot to share a cigarette. They flirt and imagine a future together. They tell stories of patients lost and patients saved, of the darkest corners of human suffering and the luminous moments that break through, even here, in the shadow of death.
In David Means’ virtuosic new collection, time unfolds in unexpected ways: a single, quiet moment swells with the echoes of a widower’s complicated marriage; a dachshund, given a new name and a new life by a new owner, catches the scent of the troubled man who previously abandoned her; young lovers become old; estranged couples return to their vows; and those who have died live on in perpetuity in the memories of those whom they touched.
The stories in this collection—winners of the O. Henry Prize and the Pushcart Prize, and selected for The Best American Short Stories in 2021—confirm the promise of a writer who extends “the profound empathy of his attention to those who need it most” (Justin Taylor, The New York Times Book Review). A revelatory meditation on trauma and catharsis, isolation and communion, Two Nurses, Smoking reflects the dislocations and anguish of our age, as well as the humanity and humor that buoy us.
[The title story of this collection is in The New Yorker June 1, 2020. A reader just mailed me a Means collection, and I’m excited to see what he’s all about. I’m sorry for doing two FSG books in a week; I understand that it’s gauche. —Chris] [This one is good. —Nic]
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