Monthly Rant Re: London Review Of Books
I don't subscribe to many periodicals any more. I canceled two during the most recent presidential campaign: The Smithsonian and The New Yorker. The first had turned into an advertising monstrosity; the latter had turned into a mouthpiece for Hillary.
I may subscribe to others, but the only three I know I still get: The Wall Street Journal, The New York Review of Books, and, London Review of Books.
London Review of Books presents an enigma for me. Generally speaking, there is not one article in the "magazine" that catches my attention when it arrives. But I keep it on the table, and when I'm ready, I begin reading any article at random, and really, really try to concentrate. And then, I find it a most incredible, a most interesting periodical.
There are two other problems with London Review of Books. First, the first one-third to one-half of the thin review is devoted to essays, unrelated to any books (or at least any books under review).
Second, editors have contracted Trump Derangement Syndrome. To wit, Henry Siegman writes in response to President Trump's comment on the two-state vs one-state solution in the Mideast:
Given [Trump's] ignorance of international affairs in general and the Middle East in particular, he probably had no idea of the implications of what he was saying.So, what do we have this month?
The first article is a very, very long article on the F-35, "the most expensive weapon ever built." I would want that fact-checked with the Manhattan Project and in current dollars. If true, that is quite remarkable. Think of all the jobs this government program provided. Wow. LOL. Daniel Soar is an expert on military weaponry based on the entirety of his bio at the review: "Daniel Soar is an editor at the LRB." For some reason, the Pentagon spending this much money on one weapon must have really, really put a burr under Mr Soar's saddle. LOL.
I'm having trouble "getting into" the second article. This is another very, very long article. This one is on London. I'm having trouble understanding it. It appears to be an article lamenting the demise of London written by someone who says he has lived their for 50 years. What can I say? It was a lecture first, and now an essay in print. Something must have been lost in translation.
The third article, still no book review, is the article I referred to earlier by Henry Siegman.
Finally, the fourth article ... on books. Sheila Fitzpatrick writes on the Russian Revolution ... yes, the Russian Revolution, and references five books. I will eventually get to it because of my interest in Edmund Wilson (which I doubt she mentions) but talk about a subject that holds little interest for 99.99999% of the reading universe.
Ooooohhh, now this is one I'm looking forward to. Tom Shippey reviews Aethelred: The Unready, by Levi Roach. Tom Shippey, of course, is JRR Tolkien's official biographer and regular contributor to LRB. Years ago I hated "anything British" but after my lengthy returns to Yorkshire, I have a fascination with England.
Eleanor Birne has an essay on The Art of John Piper, by David Fraser Jenkins and Hugh Fowler-Wright. I may read it, but only if really, really bored or trying to get to sleep.
This one could be very, very interesting: a biography of sorts on Helena Born and Miriam Daniell, two socialists in their late twenties, back in 1889. Okay, this is the biography of the writer of this essay: Paul Laity was a teenage member of different socialist societies in Briston (England). He is currently enjoying the sunshine in Northern California. Laity writes a review of Sheila Rowbotham's book, Rebel Crossings: New Women, Free Lovers and Radicals in Britain and the United States. I can hardly wait to see where this story leads.
Then two more reviews which have not caught my attention at all, but then, just when I am about to give up, this gem by Julian Bell (Virginia's Woolf's nephew, if I have the genealogy correct), a review of Laura Snyder's Eye of the Beholder: Johannes Vermeer, Antoni Van Leeuwenhoek and the Reinvention of Seeing. I first learned that Vermeer, the great artist, and Leeuwenhoek, the great scientist, were contemporaries and neighbors while watching a "Penn and Teller" film on Vermeer. From wiki:
Tim's Vermeer is a documentary film, directed by Teller, produced by his stage partner Penn Jillette and Farley Ziegler, about inventor Tim Jenison's efforts to duplicate the painting techniques of Johannes Vermeer, in order to test his theory that Vermeer painted with the help of optical devices.I'm sure Ms Snyder will not reference the Penn and Teller film but that will tell me more about Snyder than about Vermeer. Laura Snyder is at wiki.
Wow, it's going to be quite a weekend of reading.
The Samurai Museum