"In a lengthy, nuanced essay
for the London Review of Books, a version of which he delivered in a lecture in London on Friday, O'Hagan
describes working with a mercurial character who was, by turns, passionate, funny, lazy, courageous, vain, paranoid, moral and manipulative. The book deal ultimately collapsed, O'Hagan writes, because 'the man who put himself in charge of disclosing the world's secrets simply couldn't bear his own. The story of his life mortified him and sent him scurrying for excuses. He didn't want to do the book. He hadn't from the beginning.'" (via)
posted by FrauMaschine
on Feb 22, 2014 -
As Andrew Haldane, director of stability at the Bank of England, put it in a historical overview a few years ago, ‘there is one key difference between the situation today and that in the Middle Ages. Then, the biggest risk to the banks was from the sovereign. Today, perhaps the biggest risk to the sovereign comes from the banks. Causality has reversed.’ Yes, it has: and the sovereign at risk is us. The reason for that is that in the UK bank assets are 492 per cent of GDP. In plain English, our banks are five times bigger than our entire economy. (When the Icelandic and Cypriot banking systems collapsed the respective figures were 880 and 700 per cent.) We know from the events of 2008 and subsequently that the financial sector, indeed the whole world economy, is in an inherently unstable condition. Put the size together with the instability, and we are facing a danger that is no less real for not being on the front page this exact second. This has to be fixed, and it has to be fixed soon, and nothing about fixing it is easy.
- "Let's Consider Kate
," John Lanchester, London Review of Books
posted by Rustic Etruscan
on Jul 10, 2013 -
"[Peer Steinbrück, the chancellor-candidate] is a good man, with quite a bold programme for ‘social justice’.
Tax increases for the better-off, a proper minimum wage, dual citizenship for immigrants, less elbowing individualism and more solidarity in a society where das Wir entscheidet – ‘it’s the we that counts.’ The German public, surprisingly, mostly agree that increasing taxes is a sound idea. What they resent is that the idea comes from the SPD. In the same way, the Augsburg programme is widely thought to make sense, but the voters don’t fancy Peer Steinbrück. They are pissed off with Angela Merkel’s governing coalition, but reluctant to let go of Mutti’s hand. In short, the public are in one of those sullen, unreasonable moods which make politicians despair." The LRB reports from Germany. [via
posted by rollick
on May 31, 2013 -
Royal Bodies by Hilary Mantel
"I used to think that the interesting issue was whether we should have a monarchy or not. But now I think that question is rather like, should we have pandas or not? Our current royal family doesn’t have the difficulties in breeding that pandas do, but pandas and royal persons alike are expensive to conserve and ill-adapted to any modern environment. But aren’t they interesting?"
posted by Fizz
on Feb 17, 2013 -
How We Happened to Sell Off Our Electricity
is James Meek's dissection of the systematic re-privatisation of the UK power industry.
Are you an enemy of liberal principles if you question the fact that, when local electrical engineers dig up the roads in London, they’re working for East Asia’s richest man, the Hong Kong-based Li Ka-shing? In north-east England, they work for Warren Buffett; in Birmingham, Cardiff and Plymouth, the Pennsylvania Power and Light Company; in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Liverpool, Iberdrola; in Manchester, a consortium of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and a J.P. Morgan investment fund.
posted by scruss
on Jan 10, 2013 -
Journalism and Revolution
is a review from Dissent Magazine about the biography of Ryszard Kapuściński.
This was Neal Ascherson in LRB
Both of which are very different from Jack Shafer´s take down obituary piece in Slate
posted by adamvasco
on Jan 9, 2013 -
More than most literary phenomena, names in fiction seem very straightforward until you start to think about them. The simple question, ‘why does a name sound right?’ leads to a whole range of questions. Are there rules about how names are given to characters? Do naming practices differ in different periods? Are they specific to particular genres? Do different authors use names in entirely different ways? There are also anxieties to address: is discussion of names in fiction snagged in a feedback loop, in which we think James Bond is such a good name for a spy because that’s what we know it to be?
posted by Chrysostom
on Nov 16, 2012 -
Perry Anderson's book length three part series on the history of India from the beginnings of its independence movement
, through independence and partition
into its recent history as a nation-state
is the latest in a series of erudite, opinionated and wordy articles in The London Review of Books by the UCLA professor of history and sociology on the modern history of various countries, so far taking in Brazil, Italy, Turkey, Cyprus, the EU, Russia, Taiwan and France. [more inside]
posted by Kattullus
on Aug 25, 2012 -
Alan Bennett returns to the library. I have always been happy in libraries
, though without ever being entirely at ease there. A scene that seems to crop up regularly in plays that I have written has a character, often a young man, standing in front of a bookcase feeling baffled.
posted by adamvasco
on Jul 23, 2011 -
On 200 mg a day of baclofen, in an important meeting with several associate deans of my college and three new department chairs (I was made chair of my philosophy department just a few weeks before I tried to commit suicide), I fell asleep with my head on the conference room table and, for 40 minutes, everyone was too embarrassed to wake me. Somnolence is the most obvious and inconvenient side effect of baclofen. I reduced my dosage to 100 mg a day, and started taking it only at bedtime. A few days later, a colleague asked if I had changed my medicine. ‘Yes,’ I told her. ‘Why do you ask?’ She is German, an analytic philosopher, and therefore very direct: ‘You are drooling less than you were.’ My Life as a Drunk
is a searingly honest essay by novelist and philosophy professor Clancy Martin about his experiences with alcoholism, AA, valium and baclofen
posted by Kattullus
on Jul 1, 2009 -
is a witty and erudite essay by MeFi lurker
John Lanchester in The London Review of Books on how completely and utterly screwed the British economy is. In the process of laying out his case Lanchester touches on varied issues, such Scottish banknotes
, why Alan Hollinghurst's phrase "tremendous, Basil Fawltyish lengths" is applicable to the reaction by the US and UK governments to the banking meltdown, the value destruction of corporate mergers, the invention of modern accounting, and why no one really knows how large a share of the failed banks is owned by governments.
posted by Kattullus
on May 26, 2009 -
Labour, which had started the disasters of Cyprus by denying it any decolonisation after 1945, had now completed them, abandoning it to trucidation [by doing nothing when Turkey invaded Cyprus in 1974]. London was quite prepared to yield Cyprus to Greece in 1915, in exchange for Greek entry into the war on its side. Had it done so, all subsequent suffering might have been avoided. It is enough to compare the fate of Rhodes, still closer to Turkey and with a comparable Turkish minority, which in 1945 peacefully reverted to Greece, because it was an Italian not a British colony. In the modern history of the Empire, the peculiar malignity of the British record in Cyprus stands apart.The Divisions of Cyprus
, an article in The London Review of Books by historian Perry Anderson, is an excellent history of Cyprus from 1878 to the modern day as well as a polemic against the way that outside powers have treated the island. [more inside]
posted by Kattullus
on Apr 17, 2008 -
The Flow, by Paul Myerscough
That image gives way, quickly and successively, to a series of others: a young black woman smoking, smiling at the camera through a reinforced glass window; three teenage girls in a car, laughing, filmed through the windscreen; a whip-pan to the American flag, pierced by sunlight, drifting in the breeze; a DIY programme on a pixellated TV screen; a ride-along shot of a family in an oversized golf buggy; two different angles of a man alone in a lecture theatre; two more of traffic at night; a woman, suspicious of the camera, wearing a polka-dot dress and partly obscured by glassy reflections; a blurry shot of a long windowless corridor; a man wearing shades in a crowded street; a woman pursued down the cosmetics aisle of a supermarket; and, as Curtis comes to the end of his three short sentences, a woman seen jogging in the wing-mirror of a moving car.
The entire sequence takes 26 seconds. There’s too much to take in. Or, you don’t know what you’ve taken in, and how deep the impression has been.
posted by acro
on Jun 20, 2007 -
The Push For War (by Anatol Lieven).
"The most surprising thing about the Bush Administration's plan to invade Iraq is not that it is destructive of international order; or wicked, when we consider the role the US (and Britain) have played, and continue to play, in the Middle East; or opposed by the great majority of the international community; or seemingly contrary to some of the basic needs of the war against terrorism. It is all of these things, but they are of no great concern to the hardline nationalists in the Administration....The most surprising thing about the push for war is that it is so profoundly reckless....What we see now is the tragedy of a great country, with noble impulses, successful institutions, magnificent historical achievements and immense energies, which has become a menace to itself and to mankind."
Excecutive summary: Lord Acton
foretold all fruit of "military superiority".
posted by fold_and_mutilate
on Oct 4, 2002 -
Why Are So Many Americans Cancelling Their Subscriptions To "The London Review of Books"?
This letter from Paul Genova
rings true - and touché
- to this European at least. Ever since the very respectable LRB
published its issue on the September 11 attacks
, American readers(and some notable contributors) have been writing in droves to cancel their subscriptions and connections to the journal. Mary Beard's
) aroused most of the fury, though others are arguably just as outrageous. In the pages of this most lively of letter sections - graciously available online - this particular correspondence seems to demonstrate an ever-sharpening divide between American and European intellectuals. Are Paul Genova's and other readers' disgusted reactions justified? Are they specific to the WTC attacks or, more worryingly, representative of a wider separation?
posted by MiguelCardoso
on Feb 15, 2002 -
At the end of the Cold War, a lot of people professed to believe that the USSR's collapse "proved" that communism/socialism/egalitarianism (delete according to the size of claim you want to make) can never work.
Maybe. But this
got me thinking you could say the same about neoliberalism.
posted by Mocata
on Apr 24, 2001 -
Inside the world of Alcoholics Anonymous:
John Sutherland has a long piece in the London Review of Books on how AA operates and why it works well for some. The article purports to be a review of a biography of Bill W., one of AA's co-founders, but there is very little review in it; it's mainly a discussion of what AA is all about for a British readership. I am not an AA member, but have attended open AA meetings, have AA friends and belong to a different 12-step group so I can say it's a fairly accurate piece, though colored with some quirky opinions and a few opinions I think are wrong. An occasional line is humorous: "If you accept the modest estimate that 10 per cent of the adult population of this country are problem drinkers then you will conclude that the LRB readership will contain some 10,000 of them. And that 1.5 contributors per issue might have to be so classified." Yes. I'd be willing to wager a few quid that 1.5 contributors to almost any periodical have an alcohol problem! Sutherland correctly observes that the anonymous nature of AA means no one will ever be able to track how many people the program has truly "reformed" (an old-school AAer would say no one is ever reformed, they're only recovering a day at a time). The main beef I have with his piece is his statement about other organizations: Weight Watchers is NOT based on AA, though Overeaters Anonymous is; also, I don't think it is fair to say Al-Anon, OA and Narcotics Anonymous are weak imitations of AA.
posted by jhiggy
on Dec 5, 2000 -