WRB—July 20, 2022
A new editor! Not a joke! Actually very few jokes in general in this one!
The Managing Editors are proud to introduce a new team member to the Washington Review of Books’ loyal readers. Julia, a Contributing Poetry Editor of impeccable taste, will be selecting and commenting on the Poem every Wednesday, starting with this morning’s newsletter. Welcome Julia!
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;
On Saturday, we mentioned Pankaj Mashra’s second novel, twenty years after his first. For the Times, Wyatt Mason writes about another two-decade gap: Akhil Sharma’s decision to rewrite and republish his first novel (An Obedient Father, 2000, 2022) 22 years after it first appeared, and the brief and limited history of novelists revisiting their own work.
It’s been more than a decade since Christopher Hitchens passed, and in the latest Harpers, Christian Lorentzen revisits his long career in letters: “Language for him was a zone of free and fair play abounding with irony and contradiction, necessary conditions of a practice that he never quite forgot was essentially dialectical.”
“My simple theory is also broad: it applies to narrative fiction broadly conceived, from epic poems to Greek tragedies to Shakespearean comedies to short stories to movies. It also applies to most pop songs, many lyric poems and some—though far from most—paintings, photographs and sculptures. My theory is that art is for seeing evil.”: online for The Point, Agnes Callard has her own take on the old question “what is art for?”
For Astra, Digby Warde-Aldam reviews a new novel by James Greer (Bad Eminence, 2022) about a literary translator: “In brief, or bref, as Franco-British Vanessa, conversant in, inter alia, French, English, German, Italian, and Russian would no doubt say, this is the story of how our heroine was approached to translate the new novel by a writer described as ‘probably the most famous French novelist alive.’ . . . Curiously, his name is Not Michel Houellebecq.”
For the Times, Pete Tosiello reviews a debut novel by Zain Khalid (Brothers Alive, 2022): “Why so much magical realism in a novel about Saudi-U.S. commerce?”
For the Washington Free Beacon, Bonnie S. Benwick reviews William Alexander’s new book about tomatoes (Ten Tomatoes That Changed the World: A History, 2022).
Please join us in welcoming a brand new Substacker to the world of Wednesday-and-Saturday link roundups.
Tomorrow, there will be a large used book sale next to the Ronald Reagan Building.
On the Neglected Books Page, “you’ll find articles and lists with thousands of books that have been neglected, overlooked, forgotten, or stranded by changing tides in critical or popular taste.”
RIP Unsuck DC Metro [It is too little remarked on, but Washington is a city with a vibrant curmudgeon culture. Matt Hilburn was one of the best. —Nic] [That’s also what these brackets are for. —Chris]
“How Did ‘Recipe Developer’ Become a Famous Job?” Probably the same way “Substacker” did.
August 16 | New Directions
From the publisher: Created and curated by the writer and translator Gini Alhadeff, Storybook ND—our new series of slim hardcover fiction books—aims to deliver the pleasure one felt as a child reading a marvelous book from cover to cover in an afternoon. The series, beautifully designed by Peter Mendelsund, will feature original works by beloved New Directions authors, and will also introduce new writers to the list. As Alhadeff notes, “There’s nothing sweeter than to fall, for a few hours, between the covers of a perfect little book! And the image on the front, by a contemporary artist such as Francesco Clemente or Kiki Smith, will draw you in. Longer stories or shorter novels with a beautiful face: that’s Storybook ND.”
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.