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WRB—Mar. 16, 2022
Chinatowns, Churches, Cities, Cookery, and more
A table of Iranian women recently gave the Managing Editors some really divine cookies. [If anyone knows what the flat chewy ones topped with pistachios are called please email us. —Chris]
To do list:
If you’re going to use this newsletter as an excuse to waste time during the workday, you may as well, if only for technical reasons, shoot us a word of thanks here: firstname.lastname@example.org.
N.B. New George Saunders incoming.
Manhattan’s Chinatown is getting smaller, so the city is taking down many of its bilingual street signs. Meanwhile, in Washington, the city mandates that Chinatown businesses retain bilinguality even as the neighborhood’s Chinese population dwindles. The results are often bizarre.
Why Doesn’t California Solve Its Housing Crisis By Building Some New Cities? (NJR [Who else? —Chris] in Current Affairs) [Virginia has done this for decades! —Nic]
Two picks from the new Harpers, if you can choose wisely or get around their paywall: an essay on winter sports and Sartre with a really fantastic title [Someone deserves a raise here], and Lauren Oyler in review of the new Jennifer Egan followup to A Visit from the Goon Squad.
From the Print Edition: a reflection on imitation.
Finally, travelers will be able to learn about Roman cookery.
[I’ve been walking around a whole lot recently and enjoying myself immensely for it. —Chris. (WSJ)
The Washington Post has a national highlight list of Little Free Libraries, and we’re pleased to see one in D.C. get a shoutout. [As a connoisseur I’m disappointed not to see any favorites mentioned. —Chris]
Unlike much of the publishing industry, compensation at the WRB is completely commensurate with profits.
Our readers in Wisconsin are no doubt well familiar with O&H Danish Bakery’s Kringle Contest. Try your luck: there’s only one winner every week. [Thus far, it has never been the Managing Editors.]
“At least one literary historian speculates that it was the summer collecting seaweed in 1856 that gave George Eliot the courage and presence of mind to try her hand at writing fiction.” [Huh. —Chris] (The Public Domain Review)
What we’re reading:
Chris started reading the book to which an excerpt was linked by the Managing Editors in the Mar. 5, 2022 issue: The Internet Is Not What You Think by Justin E.H. Smith, and he is spending a lot of sustained attention on it. Maybe the press will someday send him the other book from the same author which he ordered. [If it even exists. —Nic] [I doubt that myself. —Chris]
Nic flew through the official history of the Yale Club. He loves this sort of pay-for-play book. The author has little interest in the subject, and the publisher is hardly invested in its quality either. That leaves the guy writing the introduction (in this case David McCullough) to actually care—and thank goodness the esteemed pop historian does.
The Paris Review came in the mail today, and Nic was surprised to find an excerpt from Will Arbery. He was disappointed, however, to find no jokes lifted from John-Paul Teti. [I did a few Ctrl-Fs for the same reason. —Chris]
The presentation of a fraternity badge by a college man to his girl, known as “pinning,” may be merely another type of “going steady,” or it may mean that the couple are “engaged to be engaged,” depending on the customs of that particular college. Generally the couple intends marriage but in the somewhat distant future, and this relationship allows them to examine their compatibility without committing themselves formally to an engagement. It is not considered proper for a girl to give a man her sorority pin or to collect fraternity pins as trophies of her dates. If the “pinned” couple “breaks up,” the girl is expected to return the pin to the young man. In many cases, “pinning” does lead to a formal engagement and then to marriage.
from Emily Post’s Etiquette.
April 5 | Princeton University Press
In Praise of Good Bookstores
by Jeff Deutsch
From the publisher: Do we need bookstores in the twenty-first century? If so, what makes a good one? In this beautifully written book, Jeff Deutsch—the director of Chicago’s Seminary Co-op Bookstores, one of the finest bookstores in the world—pays loving tribute to one of our most important and endangered civic institutions. He considers how qualities like space, time, abundance, and community find expression in a good bookstore. Along the way, he also predicts—perhaps audaciously—a future in which the bookstore not only endures, but realizes its highest aspirations.
“Just Thinking” by William Stafford
Got up on a cool morning. Leaned out a window.
No cloud, no wind. Air that flowers held
for awhile. Some dove somewhere.
Been on probation most of my life. And
the rest of my life been condemned. So these moments
count for a lot—peace, you know.
Let the bucket of memory down into the well,
bring it up. Cool, cool minutes. No one
stirring, no plans. Just being there.
This is what the whole thing is about.
[in memoriam Standard Time. —Chris]
The WRB Classifieds:
To place an ad, email email@example.com. Rates are 1¢ per word, per issue. Content is subject to the approval of the Managing Editors.
In D.C.: Young man looking for people to play tennis with. [Email WRB with subject: “Tennis, Anyone?”]
In NOVA: Young man, Christian, in finance, needs fiancée. 6ʼ3”. Byronic. 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,
Now I can see,
About Helen, no more
[Email WRB with subject: “Irascere Iterum Meis Iambis”]
[The continuing publication of Obscene Poet Seeking &c. is sponsored by an anonymous benefactor, who wishes to note: “Roses are red / Helen’s a freak. / Your poetry? / Quelle horrifique!”]
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”]
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single (1) woman (26, Catholic), in possession of no (0) fortune at all, must be in want of housemates (3, Alexandria). [Email WRB with subject: “Chill Penury”]
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”]
Young Cleveland woman seeks employment as a babysitter. Christian with years of childcare experience. Available evenings and weekends. Ideal client would have scores of unruly children and not stay out too far past midnight. [Email WRB with subject: “Cuyahoga Dreaming”]
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.
Comedian Joe Pappalardo demands you watch him perform. Reach out to him on social media @pappalardofunny for more info:
March 19, St Joseph Arts Festival, (Chinatown, D.C.) [speaking of which:]
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Pray the Rosary daily!