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Patricia Lockwood reviews ‘Novels, 1959-65’ by John Updike · LRB 10 October 2019
"I was hired as an assassin. You don’t bring in a 37-year-old woman to review John Updike in the year of our Lord 2019 unless you’re hoping to see blood on the ceiling. ‘Absolutely not,’ I said when first approached, because I knew I would try to read everything, and fail, and spend days trying to write an adequate description of his nostrils, and all I would be left with after months of standing tiptoe on the balance beam of objectivity and fair assessment would be a letter to the editor from some guy named Norbert accusing me of cutting off a great man’s dong in print. But then the editors cornered me drunk at a party, and here we are."

"If you were worried that somewhere in this sweeping tetralogy Rabbit wasn’t going to ejaculate all over a teenager and then compare the results to a napalmed child, you can rest easy."

"You’re almost glad Updike drowned Becky instead of letting her grow up, because you know Rabbit would have dedicated whole paragraphs to her ass; in describing his granddaughter’s mouth in Rabbit at Rest, he writes: ‘Some man some day will use that tongue.’ Awww, Grandpa!"

"Critics did have the high-flying hopes for him of the sort that read more like patriotism than anything else. It wasn’t just that he showed such promise in the beginning, it was that writing didn’t seem to cause him pain, and he seemed somehow able to love everything he had ever done, though he might occasionally express gentle retrospective regret over terminology or excess."

"A better question might be why nothing sticks to him. [...] This may be because, beyond his early work, he is not actually being read.

I suspect it also has something to do with his own body of criticism, which is not just game and generous but able, as his fiction is not, to reach deeply into the objectives of other human beings, even to see into the minds of women."

"One wishes not so much for an editor as for a brutal anti-American waxer to swoop in."

"Wallace’s vivisection of Updike’s misogyny seems calm and cool and virtuous, and then you remember that to the best of anyone’s knowledge Updike never tried to push a woman out of a moving car."
PatriciaLockwood  LRB  JohnUpdike  BookReview  sexism  2019Faves 
18 days ago by briansholis
Anne Enright in the :
"The movement isn’t just a challenge to male entitlement:…
MeToo  LRB  from twitter_favs
28 days ago by sdp
London Review of Books
Updike, in later interviews, maintained that Rabbit would have been an Obama voter. He may have been, but we know who he would have voted for next.
books  lrb  patricia-lockwood 
6 weeks ago by tkmharris
The truth is not enough | LRB
Climate change activism generates two contradictory political forces. One is an increasingly urgent popular sense of the scale of the emergency, the devastation that climate change has already wrought and the worse that is yet to come: it energises popular protest and can inspire almost supernatural commitment. The counter-force is not only Koch-funded climate denialism or oil-industry greenwashing, but the deep imbrication of politics with powerful economic interests that have a large stake – however suicidally short-term – in maintaining something resembling the status quo. The CBI response to Labour’s Green New Deal – that there is ‘no credible pathway’ to net-zero emissions by 2030 – is leaden with spurious ‘realism’. Hope, such as it is, comes from the prospect that the first force can either wrench politicians from their cosiness with the second, or replace them.

Extinction Rebellion’s first demand is for governments to ‘tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency’. In the US, fogged with outright lies and denialism, telling the truth might be a good first step; elsewhere, the truth is widely, if only partially, accepted and understood. In the UK, Parliament has declared a ‘climate emergency’, but the government is still committed to fracking and the continued extraction of North Sea hydrocarbon reserves. The truth in itself is insufficient for action: only in concert with political organisation and planning can it make a dent.
UK  politics  JohnsonBoris  language  arrogance  LabourParty  GreenNewDeal  tradeUnions  membership  PLP  manifesto  policy  planning  strategy  climateChange  ThunbergGreta  UN  dctagged  dc:creator=ButlerJames  LRB 
7 weeks ago by petej
Jenny Turner · Who Are They?: The Institute of Ideas · LRB 8 July 2010
Nine years ago: “One day, the conditions would be right and they [the RCP/LM/IoI crowd] would be ready: public-sector cuts, rising unemployment, the collapsing Euro, a Tory government, more or less.” (Subscribers only)
rcp  livingmarxism  instituteofideas  jennyturner  lrb 
9 weeks ago by philgyford
How bad can it get? (London Review of Books)
Good, but not much hope about UK politics. But I learned an excellent word: “rhodomontade”, extravagant boasting. Word of the year.
brexit  lrb  uk  politics 
august 2019 by philgyford
London Review of Books | Short Cuts
Sources say he included not only people he liked, but people he wanted to be liked by, and the overall picture is of a self-serving elite that flattered Epstein with their presence and enabled him with their shrugs.

c.f. Pinker’s I couldn’t stand the guy, nevertheless...
lrb  epstein 
august 2019 by tkmharris
When guilty men kill themselves
Epstein’s suicide in prison
ctrl-f “andrew o’hagen” in the flight logs imo
epstein  lrb 
august 2019 by tkmharris
How bad can it get?: How bad can it get? · LRB 15 August 2019
After the 2017 general election Britain looked like a 40:40:20 nation. The two main parties had more than four-fifths of the vote between them, fairly evenly divided, and the prize would go to whoever could peel off a few more of the rest, which included Lib Dems, Greens, nationalists, Ukippers and others. Just two years on, at least for the moment, Britain has become a 20:20:20:20:20 nation. Support for the two main parties has more or less halved after they each conspicuously failed to do what many of their 2017 supporters wanted – either failed to deliver Brexit or failed to stop it. Two other parties – the Brexit Party and the Lib Dems – currently offer a home for anyone who thinks that either delivering Brexit or stopping it is the only thing that matters. So now the game has changed. The prize will go to whoever can turn their 20 back into anything resembling the vote share of two years ago. It doesn’t have to be 40 – 35, maybe even 30, will do, so long as they get it more quickly than the other side can manage
UK  politics  JohnsonBoris  Brexit  noDeal  ToryParty  LabourParty  Ireland  NorthernIreland  ThatcherMargaret  immigration  whiteNationalism  generalElection  FarageNigel  BrexitParty  LiberalDemocratParty  Leave  Remain  democracy  EU  LRB 
august 2019 by petej
Francis Gooding reviews ‘The Uninhabitable Earth’ by David Wallace-Wells · LRB 1 August 2019
On the plus side, I'll be dead by 2100. I suspect my 80s+ won't be great though. Sometimes I wonder why young people and folks with kids aren't demonstrating *all the time*. (No, I know why.)
climatechange  francisgooding  lrb  davidwallacewells 
august 2019 by philgyford
Safe, Solid and Unquestionable
‘The year is 1910 – or 1940, but it is all the same,’ Orwell wrote, describing the mental world of these stories, which are a peculiarity of English national literature. (He went to Eton.) ‘There is a cosy fire in the study, and outside the wind is whistling. The ivy clusters thickly round the old grey stones. The king is on his throne and the pound is worth a pound. Over in Europe the comic foreigners are jabbering and gesticulating … Everything is safe, solid and unquestionable. Everything will be the same, for ever and ever.’

You can see how congenial this might be to Rees-Mogg’s political project, in which sentimental English nostalgia prettifies the hard-nosed Thatcherism of Somerset Capital. And we shouldn’t underestimate the potential audience of the public school narrative: the stories maintained their audience long past their Edwardian use-by date. Their latest version – denuded of their old casual bigotry, and with a sprinkle of magic on top – is the Harry Potter publishing juggernaut, centred on a fantasy of individual election from the ordinary to the magical elite, and which concludes with the hero graduating to become the head of that world’s equivalent of Special Branch.

The solid sense of social stasis is what gave those boarding-school stories their significant interwar appeal, and it is what the most vocal defenders of private education today fear will be taken away from them. Perhaps the prospect of a Corbyn government avowedly hostile to Britain’s many sources of inequality has made Stowe’s headmaster nervous. As David Kynaston and Francis Green point out, significant numbers of British private school pupils come from the wealthiest 5 per cent of families, and the high price of entry and concomitant concentration of resources ensures Britain’s private schools remain distinctive ‘engines of privilege’. In other words – Alan Bennett’s (Leeds Modern School) – ‘private education is not fair. Those who provide it know it. Those who pay for it know it.’ He could have added: and they will say just about anything in order to defend it.
education  higherEducation  universities  Oxbridge  schools  Stowe  Rees-MoggJacob  publicSchools  nostalgia  stasis  change  politics  dctagged  dc:creator=ButlerJames  LRB 
august 2019 by petej

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