Wendy Lesser

Wendy Lesser is the editor of the Threepenny Review. A novel, The Pagoda in the Garden, appeared last autumn.

Haute Booboisie: H.L. Mencken

Wendy Lesser, 6 July 2006

‘We posture as apostles of fair play, as good sportsmen, as professional knights-errant – and throw beer bottles at the umpire when he refuses to cheat for our side,’ H.L. Mencken wrote of his fellow Americans. ‘We deafen the world with our whoops for liberty – and submit to laws that destroy our most sacred rights . . . We play policeman and...

Diary: Surfing the OED on CD-ROM

Wendy Lesser, 3 October 1996

It is a common narcissistic fantasy to believe that the world as we know it started with our own birth, and that prior to our appearance all was darkness and antiquity. My particular generation – located at the heart of the baby-boomers, roughly midway between President Clinton and Madonna – has taken this tendency to an extreme. We would be likely to believe that no one before us had argued for school desegregation, worried about the apolitical masses, lived in split-level houses, used automated tools, got sick because of mislabelling, got well because of tetracycline, slept on Posturepedic beds, favoured clitorial sex, laughed at Scientologists, mocked Interpol, complained about wolf-whistles, turned from the vomitous rubberiness of US cooking to the splendeurs et misères of tapenade, consumed hallucinogenic drugs, taken over multi-use college buildings to protest unjust wars, or elsewhere indulged in a widespread habit of loud public gabbiness.

Diary: On O.J. Simpson

Wendy Lesser, 21 July 1994

I missed most of the original hoopla in the O.J. Simpson story because I happened to be spending the weekend in a televisionfree zone, as a house-guest in the Connecticut countryside. We all thought, before we secluded ourselves, that O.J. had probably done it; the widely publicised bloodstained ski mask (which has since mutated, as a piece of evidence, into the far less memorable knitted cap) seemed to seal his fate. But we remained ignorant of the escape, the threat to kill himself, the television highway chase, the eventual surrender and arrest, until one of my hosts, venturing out for some groceries, returned with the news. He had heard it on the car radio and then bought the paper to find out more.

Voldemort or Stalin? Shostakovich

Sheila Fitzpatrick, 1 December 2011

Dmitry Shostakovich was once seen in the West as the quintessential Soviet loyalist. Avant-garde composers despised him and official descriptions of him as a ‘fighter for peace’,...

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