The chance meetings, narrow escapes and spooky coincidences that fill Shakespeare’s romances are also a feature of the histories and provenances of the 235 surviving copies of the First Folio.
The bay of Elefsina, the modern name for ancient Eleusis, is a graveyard for ships named after gods and nymphs.
What happens when you accidentally write a perfect song? You get a measly slice of the pie, is one answer – but also, possibly, the last laugh. That seems to be what’s happened to the Walkmen: the authors, though not exactly the beneficiaries, of the New York garage rock revival’s best song.
Earlier this year, two ice cores 125 metres long were drilled out of the Holtedahlfonna icefield and flown to the Ice Memory Sanctuary in Antarctica, so that climatic history can still be traced through Svalbard’s glaciers even after they’ve disappeared completely.
A pulsating display of white lights combines with a warmly manipulative techno soundscape and the natural rhythms of your brain to create a psychedelic, hypnagogic vision of patterns and colours that is truly subjective: ‘It’s almost as if the brain is looking at itself,’ according to the neuroscientist Anil Seth, a collaborator on the project.
A Hitch in Time, a new collection of Christopher Hitchens’s previously unanthologised pieces for the LRB, will be published by Atlantic Books on Thursday (you can order it from the London Review Bookshop now). He kept an eye on his most ghoulish compatriots – Diana Mosley was the ‘worst and not the least bright of the “Bright Young Things”: with a vile mind and a gorgeous carapace, and with a maddening class confidence allied to a tiny, repetitive tic of fanaticism’ – but the sharpest spikes in the index come after four American names: Clinton, William ‘Bill’; Kissinger, Henry; Nixon, Richard; and, out in front if you count Joe, Bobby and Jackie O. too, Kennedy.
Mantel Pieces, a collection of Hilary Mantel’s contributions to the London Review of Books, is published today by Fourth Estate. Each of its 20 pieces is accompanied by a fragment of related correspondence, cover artwork or other ephemera from the LRB collection at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas. In the introduction Mantel describes the book’s contents as ‘messages from people I used to be’, but they are consistent in at least one respect: she’s always been as wonderful a writer of letters as she is of everything else. The selection begins with the note she sent to Karl Miller after he’d published her first piece for the paper in 1987: ‘If you would like me to do another piece, I should be delighted to try … I have no critical training whatsoever so I am forced to be more brisk and breezy than scholarly.’
Earlier this year, a colleague sent me a link to an announcement on Eater London that had made him 'laugh aloud as a near-parodic London 2018 food thing’: three of ‘London’s hottest restaurants’ would be joining forces for ‘one night only in Soho’ at Kiln, a Thai barbecue joint that was voted the best restaurant in the UK at the National Restaurant Awards a few months later. Chefs from Kiln and Som Saa, a Thai pop-up that crowdfunded its way into a permanent home, and sommeliers from P. Franco, would be creating a ‘standing-room-only larb bar. Guests will pay £45 on the door, there’s only one type of dish, it’s all-you-can-eat, there’ll be natural wine, and there’ll be no bookings. There will be queues.’
James Comey’s book, A Higher Loyalty, has been trimmed of any back story that doesn’t prepare us, in one way or another, for his account of the events before, during and after the election of Donald Trump. It opens in the early 1990s, with the interrogation of Salvatore ‘Sammy the Bull’ Gravano, ‘the highest ranking American mobster ever to become a federal witness’, who explains ‘the rules of Mafia life’. Comey is later reminded of this episode during his first meeting with Trump’s team: ‘I sat there thinking, holy crap, they are trying to make each of us an “amica nostra”.’