What Sally did next

Christian Lorentzen

SallyRooney’s emergence in recent years as the avatar of literary success and its online scapegoat is not unrelated to the content of her novels. Normal People begins with its protagonists, Marianne and Connell, comparing their grades at secondary school and ends with Connell getting onto a graduate creative writing programme. In the first pages of Conversations with Friends, the...

 

Flocculent and Feculent

Susan Pedersen

Of the many​ hardships visited on New York in the first months of the pandemic, food shortages weren’t among them. Supply chains held. Cleaning products vanished from supermarket shelves but there was still plenty to eat. The system showed its tensile strength, its eerie ability to deliver food of all kinds even to a population pinned in place, unequally able to purchase it. When the...

Short Cuts

Beckett in a Field

Anne Enright

You have not​ experienced Irish theatre until you have seen a show that involves a ferry, rain, stone-walled fields and the keen, mild interest of the Aran Islanders, who have great good manners and no shortage of self-esteem. It can’t be easy being the object of a century of tourist curiosity, but these people have a steady gaze. The world comes to them and then it leaves. Somehow it...

 

Silicon Valley Vampire

David Runciman

Libertarians would have us believe that unregulated, free-market capitalism is somehow diametrically opposed to state capitalism. One encourages innovation; the other stifles it. What Peter Thiel demonstrates is that unregulated, free-market capitalism is in fact closely aligned to state capitalism. Deregulation means that nothing constrains the monopoly power of the security state and nothing gets in the way of people selling it their bogus and corrupting wares. This alliance helps explain the weird anomaly of Thiel’s persona. He’s like a cross between Joe Pesci in Goodfellas – a man who will stab you in the eye with a ballpoint pen if you cross him – and Richard Branson, another so-called entrepreneur who makes most of his money by capturing state-controlled contracts (Virgin Rail, Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Media). Branson, unlike Thiel, is a bit of a hippy and mouths most of the liberal pieties, including about climate change. But it doesn’t really matter what the philosophy is. The business model is the same: get as close as you can to the people who control the protection rackets. 

 

Learned Behaviour

Luke Jennings

When​ the Royal Ballet returned to Covent Garden earlier this year after fourteen months of cancelled shows and empty auditoriums, its public announcements were upbeat. The new season (which has just opened) would include world premieres by Wayne McGregor, Christopher Wheeldon and Kyle Abraham, alongside classic ballets by Kenneth MacMillan and Frederick Ashton. In May and June, ahead of the...

Away with Words

Away with Words

Read the world's best writing - from some of the world's best writers. Subscribe to the LRB today.

 

William Gaddis

Adam Mars-Jones

The reader’s experience of The Recognitions (this reader’s) is of being alternately abandoned and spoon-fed. How many times does a child from downstairs need to ask party guests to supply sleeping tablets for her mother for the reader to understand these are irresponsible people? In The Recognitions it happens four times. 

 

Reproduction Anxiety

Madeleine Schwartz

It’​s hard not to read the title of Mieko Kawakami’s first novel, Breasts and Eggs, as some kind of provocation. I keep seeing them in front of me – a perverted breakfast, breasts over easy, with a side of ketchup. What are they doing there, those breasts and eggs?

 

Indexing

Anthony Grafton

Indexes aretrouble. If you index your own work, you have to chew your cabbage twice, and then again, and again. You must reread the text that seemed so cogent when you sent it to the publisher – not to mention when you revised it, following the advice of your editor and referees, and when you answered the copy editor’s queries, and when you read the proofs. As you collect...

London Review Book Box

Sign up to be sent a surprise novel or collection of stories selected by our expert booksellers, as well as a special gift, every month. Plus, limited edition boxes for the cyclist, gardener, letter-writer, nature lover and armchair traveller in your life.

Read More

LRB Store

Get your back issues, binders, bookmarks and LRB books, your candles, chocolate, cover prints and KeepCups, your pencils, pin badges, postcards, posters and protractors, your matchstick pots, mouse mats, mugs and, most important, your tote bags here.

Read More
Events
See more events

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.

Newsletter Preferences