LRB Cover
Volume 41 Number 24
19 December 2019

LRB blog 10 December 2019

James Butler
‘Hijacked by Marxists’

9 December 2019

Yiannis Baboulias
In Sparta

6 December 2019

James Butler
Broader Horizons

MOST READ

20 December 2018

Owen Bennett-Jones
Trouble at the BBC

1 August 2019

James Meek
The Faragist Future

21 November 2019

Thant Myint-U
Burma’s Problems

In the next issue, which will be dated 2 January, Alan Bennett’s Diary.

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John Lanchester

A Whiff of Tear Gas

From abroad, you can get the gist about the protests, but you don’t see how completely inter-generational the divide is. It is one of those increasingly common issues – common globally, I mean – where you have a good chance of knowing what a person thinks if you know their age. Families are split; the accomodationist grown-ups miss few chances to harangue the protesting youngsters, and the youngsters miss few chances to resent it furiously. You get told, repeatedly, that the protesters are ‘children’, as young as 14 or 15 or even younger. This is supposed to suggest that the protests are in some sense trivial, though of course it’s possible to take it in the opposite sense, as a sign of how desperately fractured Hong Kong has become: a society in which only children can tell the truth, and only children feel they have any political agency. More

Jenny Turner

Hey, Blondie!

The name came from Debbie Harry’s experience of being shouted at by men on the street: ‘Hey, Blondie!’ It was ironic, and to do with voyeurism and harassment, from the start. ‘My Blondie character was an inflatable doll but with a dark, provocative, aggressive side,’ as Harry put it. ‘A lot of my drag-queen friends have said to me, Oh, you were definitely a drag queen … Girl drag, not boy drag, [which] was then an act of transgression.’ She was, she writes, ‘furious’ when the band’s record label advertised ‘In the Flesh’ with a picture of her without the others, the focus very much on her ‘little nipples’: ‘Sex sells, that’s what they say, and I’m not stupid, I know that, but on my terms, not some executive’s.’ The band’s next single, ‘Rip Her to Shreds’ was advertised with a poster inviting the viewer to rip Harry to shreds if they liked. More


Colm Tóibín

Elton Took Me Hostage

Elton makes no effort to make himself seem good or worthy of the reader’s approval, and he makes no secret of the fact that, as he grew older and richer and more famous, he became unbearable. When his house was being emptied of all its goods he moved into a hotel, only to find that he was being kept awake by the wind, so he phoned his office: not to see if he could change rooms, but to demand that something be done about the wind itself. ‘I absolutely was crazy and deluded enough to ring the international manager of Rocket [his company] and ask him to do something about the wind outside my room.’ But Elton also has a big heart. More

Penelope Fitzgerald

Omitted from ‘Innocence’

Some people never expect to be expected. No matter what their preparations, they can never be sure that they are at the right place at the right time, or worse still, they know that the place, and even the time, is right, but can’t believe they will be welcome, either then or ever. As a child, and even in adolescence, Matthew Massini had been in this condition. As a young man he had corrected it himself to this extent, that although he assumed that other people might not much want to see him he also came to believe that they were wrong. At 37, as an adviser to private collectors, he believed he had almost forgotten the feeling altogether. More

Short Cuts
Harry Stopes

At the Jeu de Paume
Brian Dillon


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