Writing on Periodicals

London Review of Books, 8 July 2004

Contents page online here

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In Periodicals on 15 July 2004. Permalink

London Review of Books, 22 July 2004

Contents page online here

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In Periodicals on 25 July 2004. Permalink

London Review of Books, 5 August 2004

Contents page online here

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In Periodicals on 4 August 2004. Permalink

London Review of Books, 5 March 2005

An excerpt from Christopher Tayler's review of Ian McEwan's Saturday in the London Review of Books, as I love Ramachandran's and Lodge's thoughts here:

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In Periodicals on 20 March 2005. Permalink

Guardian Review, 19 March 2005

Continuing the Ian McEwan theme, here he is in the Guardian with a bit about travelling to the arctic on a boat full of artists. I love this rather long excerpt, which I must remember when I get annoyed with people who don't sit in their assigned seats at the cinema; a simple wrong that ends up with a theatre full of grumpy people:

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In Periodicals on 20 March 2005. Permalink

New York Review of Books, 12 January 2006

From 'Salvation Through Laughter' (subscribers only) by Charles Simic, on Witold Gombrowicz.

...writing about existentialism, he [Gombrowicz] had this to say:

It seems impossible to meet the demands of Dasein and simultaneously have coffee and croissants for an evening snack. To fear nothingness, but to fear the dentist more. To be consciousness, which walks around in pants and talks on the telephone. To be responsibility, which runs little shopping errands downtown. To bear the weight of significant being, to install the world with meaning and then return the change from ten pesos.

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In Periodicals on 4 May 2006. 1 comment. Permalink

New York Review of Books, 9 February 2006

I circled a lot of 'Jimmy Carter & the Culture of Death' by Garry Wills, a review of Our Endangered Values: America's Moral Crisis by Jimmy Carter. I keep finding myself getting intriguied by morals and ethics and would like to read more about them (so at least I could tell if there's a difference between morals and ethics). On with the lengthy quoting.

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In Periodicals on 5 May 2006. Permalink

London Review of Books, 20 April 2006

I'd really like to read a book about revolutions. Describing how a variety of major popular uprisings have happened; what sparked them off, who took part, what worked, what didn't, what lasted. Are there common factors among them? If you know of such a book, do let me know. In the meantime, the current London Review of Books has 'Martial Art' (subscribers only again) by Bruce Robbins, a review of Science of Science and Reflexivity by Pierre Bourdieu, which contains these two paragraphs:

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In Periodicals on 5 May 2006. Permalink

New York Review of Books, 27 April 2006

From 'The Global Delusion' by John Gray:

...immigrants still make up only around 3 percent of the world's population today, whereas in 1913 it was about 10 percent.

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In Periodicals on 12 June 2006. Permalink

LRB notes

If I come across a passage in a London Review of Books article I want to keep, I turn down the corner and tear the edge of the page in line with the paragraphs in question. Saves finding a pen. Here’s a little backlog of three passages I wanted to save…

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In Periodicals on 8 March 2007. Permalink

Two NYRB notes

A couple of turned-down corners from recent book review reading. First, in ‘Is the UN Doomed?’ (subscribers only) in the New York Review of Books, 15 February 2007, Tony Judt briefly mentions the costs of the UN’s international peacekeeping efforts: “in 1993, peacekeeping expenses alone exceeded the UN’s entire annual budget by over 200 percent.” Which seems like crazy money until you read the related footnote:

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In Periodicals on 9 April 2007. 1 comment. Permalink

Félix Fénéon’s worthy material

Kim recently started putting putting pithy bits of Oscar Wilde through Twitter. Which reminded me that I’d been thinking Félix Fénéon’s Novels in Three Lines would be ideal Twitter fodder. (Maybe we have some guilt about wasting time with modern communications and this makes us want to better ourselves by squeezing worthy material into it.)

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In Periodicals on 24 January 2008. 1 comment. Permalink

Has become untethered

A couple of snippets on religion / secularism and US politics from recent reading that I wanted to save somewhere, and in public seems as good a place as any.

First, Barack Obama (who I’m apparently closest to out of all the presidential candidates), quoted by David Hollinger in a review of The Stillborn God (subscribers only) by Mark Lilla in the London Review of Books, 24 January 2008:

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In Periodicals on 7 February 2008. 2 comments. Permalink

Risking execution

In the current London Review of Books Terry Eagleton writes on the history of publishing books anonymously:

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In Periodicals on 22 May 2008. Permalink

Stilt-walking ants

Over the summer I managed to catch up on reading lots of London and New York Reviews. Because reading is one of the all-too-few activities I do away from a computer, I haven’t found a good way to remember to blog anything interesting I come across. But here’s a couple of fun and amazing things about ants that have stuck in my head…

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In Periodicals on 15 September 2009. 1 comment. Permalink

A dispiriting blank side

Like you, when I read two mentions of the same concept within a few days, I exclaim in a voice hearty enough for all to hear, “That’s a blog post!” I am barely tolerated by the librarians. The cause of today’s inappropriate exclamation is the tyranny of the blank page.

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In Periodicals on 30 November 2009. Permalink

More than a million

Catching up on some articles I meant to blog but didn’t get round to at the time, this is a review by Christopher Turner of An Infinity of Things: How Sir Henry Wellcome Collected The World by Frances Larson. It’s stunning when you realise the scale of Wellcome’s lifetime of compulsive collecting: “By the 1930s more than a million archaeological artefacts, ethnographic specimens and objects pertaining to medical history were jam-packed in warehouses all over London.”

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In Periodicals on 5 July 2010. Permalink

Cool down, little girl

A couple of book reviews I read a while ago made me realise how it’s the little human details that can bring alive big, over-familiar events. In these cases sexism and racism. (No, read on, it’s less worthy than that sounds!)

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In Periodicals on 6 July 2010. Permalink

A pint bottle full of HeLa

This is a fascinating article from the London Review of Books by Cathy Gere, reviewing The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.

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In Periodicals on 7 July 2010. Permalink

30 tons of baggage

Even though I’m not really one for reading travel books, or books of daring escapades, there’s something about tales of Victorian exploration that tend to boggle the mind. Earlier in the year R.W. Johnson reviewed The Killer Trail: A Colonial Scandal in the Heart of Africa by Bertrand Taithe in the London Review of Books.

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In Periodicals on 8 July 2010. Permalink

Pirate economics

There’s a good bit about the economics of piracy (the classic ARRRRRR! kind of piracy, rather than the modern Somali kind) in this article by Stephen Sedley in the London Review of Books, discussing The Invisible Hook: The Hidden Economics of Pirates by Peter Leeson:

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In Periodicals on 9 July 2010. Permalink

Ignore the naming of objects

I just came across a scrap of card on which I made a note to remember this review by Jonathan Lear in the LRB of two books by Christopher Bollas, “perhaps the most prolific and widely read psychoanalytic author at work today”. I think I wanted to remember these paragraphs in particular:

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In Periodicals on 24 July 2010. Permalink

A better afterlife

Another article I meant to note at the time was this, by Stefan Collini, in the LRB, about three reports on British aspiration, social attitudes, and inequality. The whole thing is worth a read, not least for the latter part about how stunningly, and increasingly, unequal the UK is. I’ve pulled out a couple of other interesting bits.

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In Periodicals on 24 July 2010. Permalink

The launch of bipolar disorder

This subscribers-only article at the London Review of Books by Mikkel Borch-Jacobsen about bipolar disorder is pretty good. It looks at how the invention and definition of the condition has changed over the decades, and also how it was launched.

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In Periodicals on 17 November 2010. 2 comments. Permalink

Coins and Experiments

I started off writing a piece with a couple of interesting quotes from a recent London Review of Books, then realised it was much more suited to going on the Pepys site. So there it is. But it’s well worth a read even if you’re not into Pepys, particularly the bit about how coins were changed in the 17th century to foil counterfeiters and people who’d clip bits of the edges off…

In Periodicals on 2 February 2011. Permalink

What I read on my holiday

I spent most of my holiday on the Essex coast catching up on some reading. Here are some quotes that grabbed me.

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In Periodicals on 3 May 2011. Permalink

Ships, terrorists, red tape, persons

The London Review of Books has a piece by Stephen Sedley, ‘Plimsoll’s Story’ (subscribers only), which I thought was going to be one of those lengthy, dry articles I tend to skip, but it contains some interesting nuggets.

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In Periodicals on 12 May 2011. Permalink

Living lightly to cope with disaster

Yet another interesting bit from the London Review of Books. Whatever. Jordan Sand’s Diary in the current issue (subscribers only again) is about Japanese earthquakes, but with a more historical perspective than most of the few things I read about the recent disaster.

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In Periodicals on 13 May 2011. Permalink

Then behave yourselves

Stephen Sedley, in the London Review of Books, writing about rights of privacy from media intrusion. I liked these fragments, comparing the behaviour of the press with that of intrusive states:

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In Periodicals on 24 June 2011. Permalink

The undercover quanitifed self

Hamish MacGibbon writes in the London Review of Books (subscribers only) about his father, James, who was a spy for the Russians during and after World War II. There’s an account of the papers MacGibbon eventually gained access to which detailed the security services’ monitoring of the family during this period:

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In Periodicals on 27 June 2011. Permalink

They ate the money

This lengthy paragraph from John Lanchester’s article about Greece in the London Review of Books has stuck with me more than most. It sums up how ludicrous the Conservatives’ “We’re all in this together” slogan is. (Wow, they sell t-shirts with that on?!)

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In Periodicals on 28 July 2011. Permalink

Two million radio sets capable of broadcasting

Did you know that in the early days of radio, it was common for individuals to broadcast, not just receive transmissions? I had no idea. In the New York Review of Books, back in April 2011, Steve Coll reviews (subscribers only) Tim Wu’s book The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires:

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In Periodicals on 20 September 2011. 1 comment. Permalink

Doors with no handles

I’m a few dozen pages into China Miéville’s The City & The City, too early to comprehend the nature of its world, but the story’s allusions reminded me of this letter from the London Review of Books I read last week:

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In Periodicals on 10 April 2012. Permalink

Failure quotes

There are plenty of quotes about how it’s better to “fail fast and fail often”, or that it’s better to try and fail, rather than not try at all. Along the lines of this, from the first page of Samuel Beckett’s Westward Ho:

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In Periodicals on 30 August 2012. Permalink

Midcult

I hadn’t heard of Dwight Macdonald before, but I liked some of this review (subscribers only) by Edward Mendelson of a collection of Macdonald’s essays (US, UK) in the New York Review in March.

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In Periodicals on 8 October 2012. Permalink

Slender gains

I’m fascinated by the idea of a society in revolution and revolt, mainly because I can barely imagine it. No matter how disgruntled or angry many people seem to get in the UK, very little changes suddenly, no matter the big marches or the occasional riot. Things trundle on, people still disgruntled or angry.

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In Periodicals on 15 October 2012. Permalink

They hate competition

This article about the privatisation of the UK’s electricity by James Meek in the London Review of Books from 13 September 2012 (I’m still catching up) is well worth a read.

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In Periodicals on 15 October 2012. Permalink

The Canadian iron ring tradition

There are many quotable bits in Philip Nobel’s review of To Forgive Design: Understanding Failure (Amazon UK, US) by Henry Petroski, in the same edition of the London Review of Books as that Hilary Mantel article. Nobel’s article is only available to subscribers, but I especially liked this paragraph:

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In Periodicals on 25 February 2013. Permalink

The natural order of things

This review by Jackson Lears, in the London Review of Books, of The Age of Acquiescence: The Life and Death of American Resistance to Organised Wealth and Power by Steve Fraser is full of good stuff, but only available to subscribers.

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In Periodicals on 30 July 2015. Permalink

The most profound interest

I enjoyed John Lanchester’s review in the LRB of a book about the Wright Brothers and a biography of Elon Musk.

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In Periodicals on 10 October 2015. Permalink

First sentence

One of the best first sentences to an article I’ve read, from a recent London Review of Books:

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In Periodicals on 2 November 2015. Permalink

Everything had to be new

I enjoyed Luc Sante’s ‘The Birth of Bohemia in Paris’ in the New York Review of Books from 22 October 2015. The way 19th century Parisian artists began creating fleeting, odd fashions sounds quite familiar to modern ears.

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In Periodicals on 4 July 2016. Permalink