Taking Sides: the TLS v. the LRB

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which is the greatest book-review-tastic magazine?

DV (dirtyvicar), Tuesday, 18 May 2004 12:46 (eighteen years ago) link

When the LRB is good, it's very good. But I find the TLS's range much better.

Jonathan Z. (Joanthan Z.), Tuesday, 18 May 2004 13:07 (eighteen years ago) link

This *again*, Vicar? Didn't you ask it on ILE?

I am not saying you should not ask it again, though.

the bellefox, Tuesday, 18 May 2004 13:12 (eighteen years ago) link

Okalright TLS but, well i didn't take it too far but somehow decided NYRB is in fact best....i also rate bookforum this much

Scott & Anya (thoia), Tuesday, 18 May 2004 13:14 (eighteen years ago) link

The LRB out of your question, the Vicar.

I very much enjoyed reading the book reviews in the CULTURE section of the Guardian though - but think they could have been far more bilious wrt BERGDORF BLONDES. I admit I didn't read any reviews which took up a whole page ftb I was very very hungover and the print was jumping about in front of my eyes (not in a good way).

Sarah (starry), Tuesday, 18 May 2004 13:16 (eighteen years ago) link

The LRB has slipped right down my list now that they've cut their free year's subscription down to four free issues only.

I like the LRB
Because if you're me
The LRB's free

Because some bloke I live with is always subscribed to it. It is the real reason I don't live alone.

accentmonkey (accentmonkey), Tuesday, 18 May 2004 14:44 (eighteen years ago) link


kenchen, Wednesday, 19 May 2004 13:06 (eighteen years ago) link

"Because some bloke I live with is always subscribed to it. It is the real reason I don't live alone."

ha ha! that is perfect. My bloke bought me a Granta subscription several years ago, and that always keeps him in my good graces.
TLS or LRB - in America, it's hard to find either. I haven't tried, but are they available on line? I read the NYT book review and shall be receiving the NYRB soon.
I find it amazing that all you/us posters have time to read reviews as well as books. Sometimes I get completely befuddled by reading a review of a book by an author of a book that I wanted to read. Does that make sense?

aimurchie, Wednesday, 19 May 2004 13:54 (eighteen years ago) link

I did work experience at the TLS. They were kinda mean.

Gregory Henry (Gregory Henry), Wednesday, 19 May 2004 17:24 (eighteen years ago) link

For prim, pedantic dowdiness, the TLS can't be beat; I especially like the way they (used to?) cite the full publication information for illustration captions--including the page count. Sweet.

Is the LRB's bookshop still in business?

Stephen X (Stephen X), Friday, 21 May 2004 16:57 (eighteen years ago) link

They do still advertise their bookshop, so I assume it is still open. And aimurchie, if you are a subscriber to the LRB you can access their online archives. Or if you're friends with a subscriber you can get them to access them for you.

Most people I know get their LRB in the post, so availability isn't really an issue.

Gregory, dish!

accentmonkey (accentmonkey), Friday, 21 May 2004 19:18 (eighteen years ago) link

I hate to show my ignorance, but what are LRB & TLS?

Carol, Friday, 21 May 2004 20:51 (eighteen years ago) link

Which do you think would be more quixotic these days--opening a new bookshop or a CD store?

Can you name any other independent bookstores that've opened in the past 3-4 years? God bless 'em, but I'm not sure how they do it.

Stephen X (Stephen X), Saturday, 22 May 2004 01:31 (eighteen years ago) link

I think the LRB (London Review of Books) gets some kind of Arts grant to keep it going, so maybe its bookshop does too.

The TLS is the Times Literary Supplement, Carol.

accentmonkey (accentmonkey), Saturday, 22 May 2004 22:05 (eighteen years ago) link

three weeks pass...

There's free stuff to read on both of 'em, and it's often really good.
I'm just glad they're both there, but major props to whichever one had James Wood review Elizabeth Costello; I haven't even read it yet, but that article has been one of the highlights of my year.
Um, yeah. Must get out of the library more often...

Margo, Thursday, 17 June 2004 04:00 (eighteen years ago) link

The LRB's recent review of John Fowles' Journals was a great scathing review. It must be so satisfying to get your teeth into a really rotten book every so often.

accentmonkey (accentmonkey), Friday, 18 June 2004 12:05 (eighteen years ago) link

one year passes...
Hey! Has anyone filled in their LRB QUESTIONNAIRE yet?

I have!

I want to know what you said, eg about underrated and overrated writers!

the bellefox, Thursday, 2 March 2006 13:12 (sixteen years ago) link

what survey is this, dude?

DV (dirtyvicar), Friday, 3 March 2006 11:01 (sixteen years ago) link

What survey do you think? The one that I mentioned, in my post! It came in an envelope of its own, last week.

Maybe it is not available in the Republic of Letters, I mean, Ireland.

the finefox, Monday, 6 March 2006 14:24 (sixteen years ago) link

I filled this in on behalf of the missus (who is the subscriber) the other day.

Underrated: Norman Rush.
Overrated: Ian McEwan.

Jerry the Nipper (Jerrynipper), Monday, 6 March 2006 15:03 (sixteen years ago) link

I never got this survey in the mail, but I'm a US subscrib er.

kenchen, Monday, 6 March 2006 19:25 (sixteen years ago) link

twelve years pass...

Given how critical I've been of Colm Toibin, it is fair to say: his recent LRB review of Thom Gunn is one of the better critical pieces I can ever remember reading from him. He knows the poetry, compares collections, makes it personal without being too self-indulgent.

the pinefox, Tuesday, 23 October 2018 09:28 (three years ago) link

one year passes...

Very good:


xyzzzz__, Monday, 22 June 2020 16:15 (two years ago) link

It is.

Future England Captain (Tom D.), Monday, 22 June 2020 17:21 (two years ago) link

Another wonderful Katherine Rundell

Tsar Bombadil (James Morrison), Thursday, 25 June 2020 02:09 (two years ago) link

"And it highlighted the fact that over the 10-year period, the London Review of Books did not publish a single review of a non-white poetry book, or the writing of a single non-white poetry critic. A total of 105 poetry articles by 39 poetry critics were published by the LRB over this period.

“All 39 were white. Those 105 articles reviewed 127 different books and all were by white poets,” says the report. “No other magazine in the UK has published more articles without a single non-white critic. It is the only magazine in our data set to have never published a review of a non-white poet.”

The Ledbury analysis points out that since 2009, eight non-white poets have won the UK’s major poetry awards, the TS Eliot and the Forward prize, including Derek Walcott, Claudia Rankine and Ocean Vuong. “The LRB has reviewed none of these,” it says."


xyzzzz__, Thursday, 25 June 2020 22:54 (two years ago) link

As July begins, I have reached the first LRB of May.

Still reading articles about the pandemic from the beginnings or first half of its duration thus far. It felt more dramatic then.

the pinefox, Thursday, 2 July 2020 09:01 (two years ago) link

The poetry that gets printed by the lrb is generally from a very small number of poets (Anne Carson, John Ashbery (rip) August klienzahler, Rae armantrout) some I love (eg the first two) some I quite dislike (the second two). But like the rest of what they publish its for the mostpart from within a very narrowly defined cultural milieu. Hard to even imagine them going as off-piste to include more experimental contemporaries of armantrout (Susan howe say). In part the narrowness of the lrb is part of what can make it good. The article they published about Theresa may is one of my favourite and it's insights only make sense from within the same parochial 'i went to Oxford' perspective that unites their core staff. Patricia Lockwood is a real oddity and her regular articles delight in contrasting with a house style that can feel oppressively uniform in its tics. It says something of what is so simultaneously monstrous and refreshing about the lrb that its obvious that reflecting greater 'diversity' wouldn't even occur to them.

plax (ico), Thursday, 2 July 2020 10:49 (two years ago) link

I think I'll never catch up.

But then I think: I won't bother reading Jacqueline Rose. And I don't need to bother with this preposterously long, utterly typical Colm Toibin article about letters that Robert Lowell wrote about having an affair.

the pinefox, Thursday, 2 July 2020 14:14 (two years ago) link

Lol I remember that one. I couldn't help thinking that I would love to read an article of similar length about someone in another profession's utter shit-headedness towards an ex. A profession like hairdressing or database management. I don't know why writers' private lives are supposed to be particularly interesting. I know the justification is that Lowell wrote a book of poems about it, and that it was supposed to be a particularly scandalous conflation of the private and the public etc but frankly the length of the article and the detail therein just felt like wallowing in exactly the worst parts of the whole affair.

Li'l Brexit (Tracer Hand), Thursday, 2 July 2020 15:02 (two years ago) link

Lowell is boring but toibins writing on him is appalling drivel

plax (ico), Thursday, 2 July 2020 15:44 (two years ago) link

Haven't read the particular article you're referencing

plax (ico), Thursday, 2 July 2020 15:44 (two years ago) link

And I don't need to bother with this preposterously long, utterly typical Colm Toibin article about letters that Robert Lowell wrote about having an affair.

lol that is a pretty fair summation

I don't know why writers' private lives are supposed to be particularly interesting.

Everyone loves gossip + parasocial relations with celebs.

Daniel_Rf, Thursday, 2 July 2020 15:47 (two years ago) link

I read that Tobin piece and concur, but for the bits on Hardwick, whose writing I've been getting to know more in the last year or so.

The piece by Rose on Camus is really fine and you all should read it. The way it integrates covid with a novel that has had a bizarre re-discovery.

xyzzzz__, Thursday, 2 July 2020 15:51 (two years ago) link

Tracer Hand's post above is my favourite on ILX for some time.

the pinefox, Friday, 3 July 2020 08:41 (two years ago) link

LRB used to (might still do) advertise internships only in its own classifieds. I guess it saves money, but doesn't do much for diversity.

fetter, Friday, 3 July 2020 09:31 (two years ago) link

Thank you pinefox! :)

Li'l Brexit (Tracer Hand), Friday, 3 July 2020 09:38 (two years ago) link

I don't know why writers' private lives are supposed to be particularly interesting.

They are to other writers it would appear. Especially Phil Space.

Future England Captain (Tom D.), Friday, 3 July 2020 10:41 (two years ago) link

i think LRB's been quite meaty recently but but my reason for reading tends towards "odd perhaps useful fact i was till now unaware of" rather than "deeper understanding of specific topic or person close to my heart" -- and on the whole i prefer the fact to be historical rather than personal these days

i vaguely had an urge to write a letter abt runciman's whitewashy takedown of rahm emmanuel (but i was too busy writing abt adam ant) (who still doesn't feature often enough in this so-called magazine)

(i sent them an actual pitch a couple of months back but got no reply) (i am very very bad at pitches)

mark s, Friday, 3 July 2020 10:54 (two years ago) link

i like jacqueline rose but also tend to leave her big long pieces to "read later" as i assume they will be intellectually demanding -- and then entirely forget to read them

mark s, Friday, 3 July 2020 10:55 (two years ago) link

adam ant) (who still doesn't feature often enough in this so-called magazine)


the pinefox, Friday, 3 July 2020 11:04 (two years ago) link

it reads like the pitch i sent was abt adam ant but it wasn't (one of several problems with it)

mark s, Friday, 3 July 2020 11:06 (two years ago) link

"The poetry that gets printed by the lrb is generally from a very small number of poets (Anne Carson, John Ashbery (rip) August klienzahler, Rae armantrout) some I love (eg the first two) some I quite dislike (the second two)."

Btw I have noticed more people whose poetry I've heard of on twitter being published in the lrb in the last year or so.

xyzzzz__, Friday, 3 July 2020 11:21 (two years ago) link

"i will never log off"

mark s, Friday, 3 July 2020 12:03 (two years ago) link

I came across this piece from Al Alavarez's (someone I hear about now and then but never in an interesting enough way to actually read up on) ex-wife today, reviewing Al's account of their marriage:


It has that tediousness of the literary brand of gossip, but its a one of a kind too.

xyzzzz__, Sunday, 5 July 2020 22:02 (two years ago) link

two weeks pass...

enjoying the big piece on robert louis stephenson and henry james in bournemouth -- which i think does the spadework to establish how a long gaze at entwined biographies can in fact be illuminating

(if only bcz it notes -- claims? -- that henry jekyll of jekyll and hyde fame is in fact a. based on his close friend james ftb same initials and b. kind of a critique of james' attitudes to the world and to writing?)

(also bcz fucksake it's fascinating that these two writers were so close)

mark s, Wednesday, 22 July 2020 11:26 (two years ago) link

i thought the hardwick reaches of the lowell-affair essay were also interesting, tho very VERY buried in much too much material abt lowell, who always elicits a massive #whocare from me -- not that i give much of a fuck abt poetry at all but with him it's like "what if beat poetry but dully posh?"

mark s, Wednesday, 22 July 2020 11:28 (two years ago) link

Might fuck about with the Christopher Rick's archive:


(Read the piece on Empson's Using Biography last week, which I did enjoy. I finished Gulliver's Travels recently so his piece on Swift is just in time)

xyzzzz__, Wednesday, 22 July 2020 11:39 (two years ago) link

A lot of swearing going on here.

I very much agree with Mark S's post except his spelling of RLS's name.

the pinefox, Wednesday, 22 July 2020 11:43 (two years ago) link

Is RLS in the TLS or the LRB?

Sonny Shamrock (Tom D.), Wednesday, 22 July 2020 11:50 (two years ago) link

Mark S is correct.

I think it would be OK for Mark S to be in the LRB, if other people I know and like were also in the LRB. I don't think he should be the *only* person in the LRB. Except for the *Special Issue on Mark S Studies*.

I don't think that age should be a key criterion either for publishing or not publishing someone. I think that openness to outsiders is the thing that the LRB (by choice, I suppose) doesn't have. That could include 75-year-old West Indians as well as 22-year-olds in Inverness.

I think that if senility, laziness, being out of touch, etc, are occupational hazards of being old, then by the same token there must be occupational hazards (for a writer) of being young, which I will not now trouble to list. The list perhaps writes itself.

Different people like different LRB contributors (if they like any at all). The three that poster Neil S has listed as bad happen to be three of my favourites. Possibly I dislike his favourite three.

the pinefox, Tuesday, 12 July 2022 10:59 (two months ago) link

fwiw I do like Sinclair, even if he definitely has his (walking) schtick that he leans on rather too often.

I also like Stefan Collini on intellectual history (old-ish white bloke), William Davies on policitcal economy and sociology (middle-aged white bloke), James Butler on politics (young-ish white bloke) and Patricia Lockwood on literature and "internet culture" (youngi-ish white woman). Make of that list what you will.

yes I agree that age shouldn't be a prime determinant, it's just that for film in paritcular it would be nice to get some other perspectives now and again, regardless of the merits or otherwise of M Wood.

Critique of the Goth Programme (Neil S), Tuesday, 12 July 2022 11:05 (two months ago) link

"Walking schtick" for IS is good.

I like reading Collini (met him once, he said the LRB was a mystery to him), Davies (often very insightful).

I don't like Butler because of some of his political statements, and I don't like Lockwood.

I agree that a pluralistic, multiple-reviewers approach would be logical and productive for film coverage in future.

the pinefox, Tuesday, 12 July 2022 11:08 (two months ago) link

It used to be the complaint about Sight and Sound, under the previous editor, that there was a predictability about assignments - ie if it was a new horror film, Kim Newman would automatically be given it to review. In general, editors like that kind of reliability, of opinion and perspective as well as actual delivery of content, so I can see why LRB have stuck with Michael Wood as the (only?) person who gets to regularly review new movies. I'm sure he turns in clean, legible copy that fulfils the basic requirement - tell us what this new film is like - and requires minimal fixing. An easy half page. But sticking with Wood alone gives the impression that the LRB doesn't really give a toss about films and film culture. In fact, a more focused column on, say, writing and cinema might be more interesting than a 'new films round-up' that you can still get from plenty of other places online or in print.

Ward Fowler, Tuesday, 12 July 2022 11:18 (two months ago) link

While we're talking about age, I think the one LRB writer who has truly entered a new plane of writerly existence with age is ... OK, one is Alan Bennett. But the other, that I had in mind, is Fredric Jameson. He's 88, he is perhaps now allowed to write what he wants, when he wants (well, he probably always was), and he writes quite random things that contain very little clear intellectual content.

Still, I don't really want to see someone like FJ banned from the LRB, even when he writes this way. Maybe better to let him keep going as long as he can, adding to the late record of his work, as you would have done for Freud, Adorno, Yeats, et al.

the pinefox, Tuesday, 12 July 2022 11:23 (two months ago) link

gives the impression that the LRB doesn't really give a toss about films and film culture

But this shouldn't just come down to the 'new film review' slot. If they did give that toss, as you say, then what they would and should do would be to publish much more full-length essays (of the usual kind) on books about film (of which there are of course many).

It's the fact that they don't do that much (as far as I can see) which is the bigger indictment than their film review feature.

the pinefox, Tuesday, 12 July 2022 11:25 (two months ago) link

David Thomson gets in there fairly regularly reviewing books about film:
Another octogenarian white male Brit living in the US!

Critique of the Goth Programme (Neil S), Tuesday, 12 July 2022 11:29 (two months ago) link

Yes. He's appearing a bit more, lately, than he had?

He's not as far gone as FJ, and I'd publish anything he does as long as he can still press the keys.

the pinefox, Tuesday, 12 July 2022 11:54 (two months ago) link

"But sticking with Wood alone gives the impression that the LRB doesn't really give a toss about films and film culture."

They are lazy bums! It's painful to read the LRB pretend to give a toss about stuff they clearly do not.

xyzzzz__, Tuesday, 12 July 2022 13:32 (two months ago) link

Has anyone bought or read the TLS lately? I believe that poster Fizzles was doing so.

the pinefox, Tuesday, 12 July 2022 14:11 (two months ago) link

I second the surprise at the EastEnders thing; it didn't fit as an LRB piece, not even in a "wow, didn't expect this in the LRB" kind of way. Wasn't there another odd piece a while ago that turned out to have been written by the editor's son, or something?

fetter, Tuesday, 12 July 2022 18:33 (two months ago) link

I don't recall that - does anyone? - but it sounds like something that could only happen in the LRB.

Well, or in the Spectator or The Lady.

the pinefox, Tuesday, 12 July 2022 22:28 (two months ago) link

Good too see the LRB publishing something on a writer I care about.

All My Cats by Bohumil Hrabal, translated by Paul Wilson
Michael Hofmann


xyzzzz__, Wednesday, 13 July 2022 15:53 (two months ago) link

This essay was wonderful, more of an overview of Hrabal than a review of the particular book. I love his enthusiasm for the things he loves, how he articulates it. I share it, so he is talking to the converted here.

xyzzzz__, Saturday, 23 July 2022 13:01 (two months ago) link


Really enjoyed this piece on Jules Renard. Journalling 19th century writer.

xyzzzz__, Sunday, 31 July 2022 10:44 (one month ago) link

I loved the EastEnders piece, maybe for its implausibility. It made EastEnders feel like the foundational document for understanding the collective psychic turmoil of living in modern Britain, which probably isn't something I've often thought during the several thousand episodes of EastEnders I've watched.

New LRB is really good so far.

Richard Taws on Jules Renard was a really good appreciation, a writer I've heard of but never read. Must get round. Andrea Brady on Lisa Robertson's poetry and translations of Weil was good though it tried to squeeze a bit much on all of Robertson's interests. The stuff on Weil was too brief. Emily Wilson's Diary on Artemis, loss of innocence, queerness, whether the world can be safe for her daughters hit a nerve. Anne Carson's piece was fantastic, a bit like Godot at the movies.

Now onto the non-fiction coverage.

xyzzzz__, Sunday, 7 August 2022 13:01 (one month ago) link

re jules renard: the only moment where a snort of derision escaped me is when julian fkn barnes is quoted sneering at beatrix potter (and lol jemima puddleduckl) as "sentimental", fvck off barnes u useless middlebrow dullard reread the duck book its not long exactly

mark s, Sunday, 7 August 2022 13:08 (one month ago) link

otherwise this was an interesting piece yes

mark s, Sunday, 7 August 2022 13:09 (one month ago) link

Lanchester's piece on German corporate corruption was a story told well enough in a 6/10 sorta way once you get over his conceptions of capitalism and his stiff jokes.

I didn't think an awful lot of William Davies' commentary piece on the last few weeks of ukpol. I am getting a bit irritated with the use of that Stuart Hall piece on Thatcherism as an explainer, same goes for Anderson/Nairn. Also I don't think Edgerton's challenge on these readings was appropriately dealt with by saying things are surely getting really bad (?) when the energy crisis and inflation are being faced by all of Europe and North America, but maybe that's my weariness at ukpol in general.

The review of Alex Ross' book on Wagner was pretty good on Wagner and his afterlives although it didn't deal with the book's account of it very much. Anyway I liked the aggregation of material here.

My favourite piece was Laleh Khalili's piece on oil and the havoc it brings upon the world, and she takes the book to task for its lack of attention to the challenge posed by marginalised groups to the pursuit of land and profit by the state and corporate interests.

xyzzzz__, Monday, 8 August 2022 10:29 (one month ago) link

Publish this in the LRB

From Papua New Guinea’s London correspondent. This is epic. pic.twitter.com/bOSuctmEj8

— Barbara Sage (@ladybie11) August 8, 2022

xyzzzz__, Monday, 8 August 2022 22:20 (one month ago) link

Julian Barnes' introduction to the Renard book appears to be his 2011 LRB essay:

This already received a letter from an academic offering a different view of Beatrix Potter.

the pinefox, Wednesday, 10 August 2022 09:58 (one month ago) link

LRB 4.8.2022.

I learned some things from Lanchester who wrote clearly about money scandals.

Emma John gives yet more publicity to Suzanne Wrack, a not very interesting sports reporter and, come to think of it, a regular Guardian colleague of Emma John.

William Davies on current UK is good, though he doesn't really match this up with historical 'declinism'. I would like to know more of Edgerton's work.

Laleh Khalili on Helen Thompson, DISORDER: not a good review. Thompson's book sounds bewilderingly wide-ranging and complex. The arguments it makes (eg that oil prices caused Brexit) sound surprising and hard to understand or assess. A review needs to take all this on, slowly and clearly - as Perry Anderson would do, actually. Khalili instead spends the first half not only talking in general terms about oil, but talking about herself. That may or may not be interesting but it's not a good use of words when trying to explain a complex subject. She then spends the end of the review just complaining that Thompson didn't write a different book altogether.

Fredric Jameson on Nazi crime fiction: daft but more readable than his other recent contributions.

Wagnerism: not very interesting or surprising.

O'Hagan on Dolly Parton: I've had many problems with him but must admit, his constantly wry tone seemed to me to work here, mainly on the ghostwriter rather than Parton herself.

the pinefox, Wednesday, 10 August 2022 10:08 (one month ago) link

not happy with the thread's backsliding on lanchester and o'hagan >:(

as e.p.thompson once scolded perry anderson: "they are scoundrels! we must stiffen our tone!"

mark s, Wednesday, 10 August 2022 10:29 (one month ago) link

The final piece in this issue I bothered with was Rory Scothorne (who seems like an excellent commentator in general and whose twitter I follow) review a book on The North. It's pretty solid.

xyzzzz__, Wednesday, 10 August 2022 12:19 (one month ago) link

O'Hagan on Dolly Parton: I've had many problems with him but must admit, his constantly wry tone seemed to me to work here, mainly on the ghostwriter rather than Parton herself.

I'm not sure ghostwriter is the right term to use for the world's best-selling author whose name is emblazoned in bold type on the cover. The book is co-branded as a Patterson/Parton joint effort, and I would guess Patterson's name is for many readers as much of a draw as Parton's. Tbh, I wasn't really sure the point of reviewing this in the LRB. Patterson is kind of a critic-proof author. His readers know what to expect, and they invariably get it. Taking him to task for writing in a hackneyed potboiler style is a bit on the nose, isn't it? It seems the LRB only reviews Patterson when he has a famous co-author. The last time he was featured in its pages was a review of the novel he wrote with Bill Clinton back in 2018. Interestingly the writer of that critique blamed the books short-comings on Clinton more than on Patterson, whereas in this case, the writer lays the blame on Patterson and portrays Parton's role in the creation of the work as fairly passive. Or maybe he felt it would be ungentlemanly to criticize a lady.

o. nate, Monday, 15 August 2022 13:45 (one month ago) link

i saw several ppl who i like tweet-highfiving o'hagan for this piece, which i thought was mostly glib slick lazy nonsense and the chance to write "yeehaw" and such

mark s, Monday, 15 August 2022 16:23 (one month ago) link

LRB 18.8.2022.

Jonathan Coe on 1970s UK TV and film: Coe has his detractors as a novelist, but simply as an LRB reviewer he's very good: consistent, lucid, on-topic, always producing well-shaped articles with beginning, middle and end. In this instance I think the 'magic of watching films in bad 1970s conditions' idea is overplayed but Coe does quite shrewdly, politely say that Rob Young's alternative UK canon of occult TV is actually a rather familiar list by now. (Not that I've actually seen most of the titles myself.)

James Meek on Ukraine: you could say it takes courage to go to the most dangerous place in Europe when you don't have to, and it's quite impressive that one of the best commentators on the recent state of UK privatizations is also a war reporter.

the pinefox, Friday, 19 August 2022 14:07 (one month ago) link

read the lanchester on the two big german frauds: bearing in mind the usual caveats abt his basically terrible financial writing this wasn't awful, bcz the two main stories are so cut-and-dried -- tho if i were his editor i would as always force him to re-structure it to foreground the idea he bumbles into very late (which is that massive eye-stretching scandals are on the whole more likely in high trust societies like germany)

there's one mildly funny bit, which he doesn't deliver especially well but it works despite him: that the real actual whistleblower who brought everything down was for wirecard was the designated whisleblower's mum

mark s, Sunday, 21 August 2022 18:21 (one month ago) link

I do like Michael Wood's general method of reviewing (even if I'll never engage with his film reviews again) in trying to pick a few things around what he is looking at without saying outright whether a thing is good or bad, as in his review of a new work by Celine, and the recent study in the new LRB.

Also good was the piece on antiquity's apocalyptic visions.

Read the so-so piece on Barthelme, whose stories I've read but didn't know anything about.

xyzzzz__, Tuesday, 23 August 2022 11:02 (one month ago) link

Reading Tom Crewe (who has managed to get a contract for a novel - how? Because he works at the LRB?) at length on Walter Sickert reminded me of how much space the LRB gives to long essays about vintage painters. When these are by T.J. Clark I no longer bother at all. Why do they do it? I think a) the LRB people are from a cultural heritage that still thinks these old painters are obviously important and interesting (maybe they are); b) also an overcompensation for the wordiness of the LRB, a determination to say 'we're visual too'.

How to write about these painters and paintings? With Crewe (who seems determined to let us know that he is at home in the world of old painting. Maybe he studied it in the past, or maybe he has just furiously boned up on it for this assignment?) we get biographical material, but also very long descriptions of paintings: this painting contains colours a, b, c and d, in patterns x, y, z. I suspect that some people think this is good art criticism, close reading. But I find it uninformative and certainly uninspiring. Does Crewe justify the 4 large pages given to Sickert? Not really.

Meanwhile K^sia B0ddy, whom oddly I have met, gives us some facts on Barthelme's career but doesn't make Barthelme sound good, and reminds me that every time I have tried to read Barthelme I have taken little or nothing from it, the one possible exception I can think of being the nuclear-paranoia story 'Game'. Barthelme's sense of humour, if that's what it is, seems to have very little overlap with mine - a large contrast with (a relevant comparison, another 'collagist'?) Flann O'Brien whose comic intelligence for at least 15 years I find unerring.

the pinefox, Monday, 29 August 2022 08:41 (four weeks ago) link

Finished LRB 18.8.2022: that was a slog. Including an article about classical apocalypse that I couldn't follow. Michael Wood at least sharp again - to a fault, on the poor fellow whose book on Céline he discusses.

Started the next one I have: LRB 22.7.2022. This looks even more of a slog. Of note, though: David Runciman at the Blair Institute. Though detached and amused about technocrats, Runciman repeatedly expresses a degree of sympathy with and admiration for Tony Blair that I have not seen from anyone credible for a long time. I combine this perception with the fact that Runciman attacked socialists in recent years, and the fact that here he says no-one has any big ideas; 2-3 years after a party did put forward big ideas, disdained by Runciman. In short, he seems to be a bad person.

the pinefox, Thursday, 1 September 2022 07:46 (three weeks ago) link

not just bad, infuriatingly glib and smug while we're at it. He also has annoying opinions about sport.

Critique of the Goth Programme (Neil S), Thursday, 1 September 2022 07:58 (three weeks ago) link

Unsure as to why he hasn't been kicked from the LRB, not sure what he brings.

xyzzzz__, Thursday, 1 September 2022 08:24 (three weeks ago) link

DR is a contributing editor (unclear what duties this entails but certainly that he's a senior and probably an immovable contributor)

he's one of the Bad Three IMO (along with ohagan and lanch): by which i mean there's other bad contribs but the three seem to have sanction to be worse lol

he's a cambridge polprof and his full title is 4th viscount runciman of doxford and i'll thank you to call him nothing else from here on in

mark s, Thursday, 1 September 2022 08:51 (three weeks ago) link

oh holy christ, he's that smug cunt from the Talking Politics podcast that I once accidentally listened to for about 2 minutes 34 seconds.

calzino, Thursday, 1 September 2022 08:55 (three weeks ago) link

calz spinning the dial for the highest quality melts he can locate

mark s, Thursday, 1 September 2022 09:12 (three weeks ago) link

seeing as it's confession time I did actually go through a Tooze phase, which included admiring a few of his books (Deluge, Wages of Destruction, Crashed - I give up on the latter half way through it!) and listening to him podcast without yelling STFU, lol!

calzino, Thursday, 1 September 2022 09:24 (three weeks ago) link

I have heard that Tooze is good.

I doubt that I would understand his work well enough to find out.

But yes, DR has his own podcast where he talks as Calzino describes. I know that from hearing, I think, a 30-second advert for it.

I concur with Mark S that nothing is going to oust DR from the LRB. He is readable enough, but he is a reactionary. They don't seem to have noticed.

the pinefox, Thursday, 1 September 2022 09:27 (three weeks ago) link

Wages of Destruction is a study of Nazi economics and is v good, you learn some interesting stuff. Like for example during the period that Hitler was building the Atlantic wall. Such was the demand for bricklayers they were being paid higher wages than brain surgeons. It's a good conversation piece that, for when I'm trying to pass myself off as an expert Nazi historian.

calzino, Thursday, 1 September 2022 09:44 (three weeks ago) link

lol, what a waste of skin. But hey at least you've achieved something if you get to be portrayed by Timothy Spall in a very mediocre movie.

calzino, Thursday, 1 September 2022 10:06 (three weeks ago) link

he does actually look a bit similar to Sir Richard John Evans

calzino, Thursday, 1 September 2022 10:15 (three weeks ago) link

sorry for posting that huge slab of gammon on this thread

Critique of the Goth Programme (Neil S), Thursday, 1 September 2022 10:20 (three weeks ago) link

I just read J. Robert Lennon's quite good review of a book called THE ANOMALY. This at least helps me slightly to understand what I think posters Fizzles and Ledge were talking about on another thread.

Michael Hofmann on Hrabal, whom I've of course also not read: well-written, or at least flamboyantly written, in this reviewer's distinctive way.

the pinefox, Friday, 2 September 2022 14:14 (three weeks ago) link

LRB 21.7.2022 turns out to be an unusually bad, boring issue. Not a great sign when Wood at the movies is practically the best thing in the paper.

the pinefox, Monday, 12 September 2022 09:18 (two weeks ago) link

enjoying shippey as usual, this time on crecy: TS has a good grasp of cultural as well as political-military history across a great reach of period, and plus he likes to drop in as illustration an old-timey map of the battle which -- while amplifying a point the book under review makes which interests him -- also looks very extremely like tolkien's hand-drawn maps with its lettering and its forests made of lots of little hand-drawn trees, no way this wasn't deliberate

mark s, Saturday, 17 September 2022 10:56 (one week ago) link

Tooze is great. surprised to see anyone confess to having once liked him

flopson, Saturday, 17 September 2022 22:48 (one week ago) link

LRB 8.9.2022.

Helen Thaventhiran on Eliot: contains bad exaggerations and extrapolations about poetic sounds. General feeling remains that Eliot is over-indulged, ie: written about too much, as a subject, certainly in the TLS and in other like publications also. And I don't even dislike Eliot.

Collini on the Huxleys good.

Jonathan Parry on Clubs bizarrely spends its latter section talking not about clubs but about modern politics. Not very fair on the book or its author.

I admire Tom Stevenson's authority on military matters. He also seems politically sound and critical. I see that Verso will publish his LRB articles. Why would an LRB reader then buy that book?

the pinefox, Tuesday, 20 September 2022 12:19 (one week ago) link

This was a relatively good issue.

I am a bigger enthusiast for Michael Wood than anyone I know, and even I must admit that his review of BULLET TRAIN is unusually bad. Drifting, tonally awkward, it contains several climactic sentences that barely make sense.

the pinefox, Tuesday, 27 September 2022 11:29 (yesterday) link

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