WRB—May 4, 2022
Publishing, Pym, Poles, and more
At three thousand subscribers, we will reveal Elena Ferrante’s true identity.
To do list:
People around the District of Columbia, around the D.C.–Maryland–Virginia area, around the nation, all know that the most delightful part of their week is the chance to read a new issue of the WRB. But what these loyal readers might not have cottoned to is that our Classified Ads [about which more at the bottom of this email] are an extremely affordable way to find whatever it is their heart desires. [Real people do this. —Nic]
If this short description may have described you, until the present moment, waste no time! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org today with the ad you would like to place, and remember: If you have needs, we have leads!
[Readers whose hearts have no desires are, obviously, exempt from this notice. —Chris]
A new biography of Barbara Pym, says Beth Gutheon in the Hudson Review’s spring issue, is rather bad!
Joy Neumeyer considers Czesław Miłosz’ time in Berkeley: “For almost twenty years, the Polish poet Czesław Miłosz lived here in obscurity, descending to teach Slavic literature to long-haired students he didn’t understand—until one day in 1980, when the Nobel committee called to inform him that he’d won their prize for literature.”
A reader recently asked Chris, having turned up at his house late on Friday night, what books he would recommend for the melancholy of lost love. Among the books he sent him away with was Love Medicine. [That’s all completely true. —Chris]
Jeet Heer has a piece in our sister publication about something you’ve probably never heard about: Martin Vaughn-James and his “visual novels.”
Two fascinating pieces in Publishers Weekly, the first from the former president of Regnery on how politically conservative presses successfully market books in nontraditional ways, the second from the executive director of the New Press on how publishing is inherently a politicized profession. [I’ve always found the small presses on both the political right and left more interesting than the big guys. Also, reading about this stuff always makes me wish I had a BookScan account. I’d waste hours there daily. —Nic]
[I thought this report on the subject of “what is going on with slushies” was really interesting. —Chris] [Also this brief report on the varieties of potato chip available in America. —Still Chris]
The All Hallows Guild at the National Cathedral is hosting its annual benefit flower mart on Friday and Saturday of this week. [Excellent women, I’m sure. —Chris]
The Trucker Convoy is returning to the city. [I hope the truckers will bring Coors Banquet this time. —Nic]
What we’re reading:
Chris slept a little bit more than Nic did and read a little bit more of The Name of the Rose, which is, mostly, a lot of fun. He also started reading Natalie Shapero’s first book of poems.
Nic is working on something like two hours of sleep right now. In the past twenty-four he’s been playing “Lover’s Spit” and “Anthems for a Seventeen Year-Old Girl” on repeat to stay awake. [Not books! I’ve been doing the Cranberries. —Chris] [The hard stuff. —Nic] [I’m pondering the “songs about being seventeen” Spotify playlist. —Chris] The Copenhagen Trilogy also arrived in the mail today.
May 30 | Godine
Ghost of the Hardy Boys: The Writer Behind the World’s Most Famous Boy Detectives
by Leslie McFarlane
From the publisher: In 1926, 23-year-old cub newspaper reporter Leslie McFarlane responded to an ad: “Experienced Fiction Writer Wanted to Work from Publisher’s Outlines.” The ad was signed by Edward Stratemeyer, whose syndicate effectively invented mass-market children’s book publishing in America. McFarlane, who had a few published adventure stories to his name, was hired and his first job was to write Dave Fearless Under the Ocean as Roy Rockwood—for a flat fee of $100, no royalties. His pay increased to $125 when Stratemeyer proposed a new series of detective stories for kids involving two high school aged brothers who would solve mysteries. The title of the series was The Hardy Boys. McFarlane’s pseudonym would be Franklin W. Dixon.
McFarlane went on to write twenty-one Hardy Boys adventures. From The Tower Treasure in 1927 to The Phantom Freighter in 1947, into full-fledged classics filled with perilous scrapes, loyal chums, and breakneck races to solve the mystery. McFarlane kept his ghostwriting gig secret until late in life when his son urged him to share the story of being the real Franklin W. Dixon. By the time McFarlane died in 1977, unofficial sales estimates of The Hardy Boys series already topped 50 million copies.
Ghost of the Hardy Boys is a fascinating, funny, and always charming look back at a vanished era of journalism, writing, and book publishing. It is for anyone who loves a great story and who’s curious about solving the mystery of the fascinating man behind one of the most widely read and enduring children’s book series in history.
“May Balls in June” by A.M. Juster
Cambridge University, June 18, 2001
Spectacular young women who can quote
Thucydides and Marx, or clone a gene,
are wearing shawls and low-cut sherbet gowns
while tottering in heels on cobblestones.
Infectiously exuberant young men
adjust their somber ties and cummerbunds,
and stretch for witty ways to entertain.
At eight o'clock, hours of light remain;
the bands and caterers are setting up.
Carnival tents in courtyards undercut
the weathered dignity of stone and spire.
With cynicism set aside for now,
the students roam with bowls of strawberries
and clutch their sweating bottles of champagne.
By midnight I attempt to sleep—in vain.
At first the pounding sounds of fireworks
keep me awake, then after that I hear
the howls and banter from a traffic jam
of punters on the Cam. I doze in fits,
no longer even backdrop for the scene,
and miss a night too dreamlike to be true.
I rise at five. With nothing else to do,
I pray that British eccentricity
extends to brewing coffee at this hour.
Expecting disappointment, I explore
the alleys and the dirt paths by the Cam.
Exhausted knots of students wander past,
and dogs are picking through a bag of trash.
A tieless group is bellowing old songs
in fraying harmonies; they follow up
with bits of Motown Byron would have loved.
The women shake their hair loose, carry shoes,
and lift their gowns above the stones. Two pale
and awkward revelers caress and kiss,
more proof that expectations need not fail.
[I found Cambridge singularly annoying when I visited. —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.
Mid-20s Catholic woman in Pittsburgh area, spontaneous, outdoorsy, looking for someone skilled at wordplay to argue with, romantically. [Email WRB with subject “Flannels in the Burgh”]
In Tacoma, WA: Energetic, creative, and voracious reader (F24) seeks nice Catholic boy with a sense of humor and openness to adventure. Cat lover a plus. [Email WRB with subject “Pugetaboudit”]
28, male, in D.C. looking for people to be socially anti-social with at either Suns Cinema or the Landmark theaters (usually Chinatown) where tickets are $7 on Mondays and Tuesdays. Not big on horror, but generally does not discriminate by genre. [Email WRB with subject: “The Search”]
Wanted: 30ish woman for The National-esque doctor in American midwest. Belief in predestination and disbelief in fibromyalgia preferred. [Email WRB with subject: “Coffee and Flowers”]
In D.C.: Young man has found people to play tennis with, but is leaving an open offer to play. [Email WRB with subject: “Tennis, Anyone?”]
Executive Director of Great Hearts Institute for Classical Education seeking a marketing and publications coordinator to support a variety of projects and publications in service to the growing K–12 classical movement. Our goal is the continued development of classical education through scholarship, research, conferences, and publications—all highlighting curricular and pedagogical excellence. Position can be remote; salary is $45–55k; benefits are good; and the work is rewarding. Click here for the full job description.
Executive Director at Lincoln Network seeking Research Editor to support him and rest of the team. Position can be remote, salary is $60–80k, benefits are good, including unlimited PTO. If you are like technology, know what MITI is, write and research well, and are literate, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with a pitch for yourself.
Mid-20s parents looking for young, unmarried Catholic woman who’s interested in children and wants to be in the DC area long term.
DC-local male seeking recommendations for DC-local locales to purchase oddities in the service of bedroom decoration. Economical ideas preferred. [Email WRB with subject “Priceless Moments”]
Man, single, 26, seeking to enter the next phase of life and settle down. Low-maintenance preferred, but open to a fixer-upper. Will travel to meet with respondent. No Mazdas, please. [Email WRB with subject: “Passengers Not Included”]
Aging millennial looking for a piano teacher near Fairfax. [Email WRB with subject: “Tickling the Ivories”]
Freelance copyeditor with 10 years’ professional experience editing everything from poetry to scholarly works on long-dead Native American languages offering services to writers everywhere. Email email@example.com for rates and availability.
Need a host, MC, or just jokes? Contact DC comedian Joe Pappalardo. For tickets to shows and comedy clips, click HERE. Follow him everywhere @pappalardofunny.
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.
This Easter, introduce your toddlers to TEN EASTER EGGS, your burgeoning readers and cat lovers to MAX AND MIDNIGHT, and your teenagers to BOUND, all by Vijaya Bodach.
The Militant Grammarian is a non-profit volunteer journal devoted to bringing the best experimental fiction to the web. Our small staff is committed to an aesthetic of bold weirdness and boundary-pushing—the types of stories that other publications might consider too esoteric or theoretical or cerebral. Simply put, we publish stories we love—the stories that we believe deserve to be out in the world. Submit your writing: email@example.com.
Struggle Magazine is a quarterly literary magazine established in Washington, D.C. in 2020. The idea for it started behind a coffee bar from our need to create a tangible expression of what it meant for us to have artistic freedom in this world. We depend on finding contributors and pieces that end up informing one another. We hope that each issue of Struggle comes out buzzing with interesting conversations among artists across genres and mediums that our readers can also participate in. Get the first issue now.
Looking for a podcast that's delightfully unchained from the drudgeries of reality? In every episode of The Readers Karamazov, your hosts the Bastard Sons of Hegel—Karl Bookmarx, Friedrich Peachy, and Søren Rear-Guard—explore the intersection of philosophical thought and literary form in great works of fiction. Each season builds outward from a central anchor book to consider how different works of literature speak to each other over time. Catch up with the entirety of Season 2, “Middlemarch,” now, before Season 3, “The Name of the Rose” begins in April. Listen wherever you get your podcasts, and follow on Twitter @thereadersk.
If you or someone you love is afflicted with a syndrome known as “living in DC” or “considering living in DC,” tell them to talk to their doctor about reading The Girl’s Guide to DC. With just one weekly newsletter, you can get your fill of dating and career advice, DC news, and pop culture by clicking this link.
Pray the Rosary daily!