In the latest issue:

The American Virus

Eliot Weinberger

The Home Life of Inspector Maigret

John Lanchester

Story: ‘Have a Seat in the Big Black Chair’

Diane Williams

The Last Whale

Colin Burrow

In Beijing

Long Ling

Princess Margaret and Lady Anne

Rosemary Hill

At the Movies: ‘Arkansas’

Michael Wood

Ruin it your own way

Susan Pedersen

At Home

Jane Miller

The Ottoman Conundrum

Helen Pfeifer

Poem: ‘Muntjac’

Blake Morrison

Piketty’s Revolution

Geoff Mann

Short Cuts: In Tripoli

Jérôme Tubiana

Coetzee Makes a Leap

Christopher Tayler

At Auckland Castle: Francisco de Zurbarán

Nicola Jennings

Drain the Swamps

Steven Shapin

Diary: In the Isolation Room

Nicholas Spice

Two PoemsAdam Thorpe


County Cork

Between the portals and the axials lay the central slab
with its flotsam of euro-cents and hair-bangs, wet-scarred words,
a Ryanair boarding pass kept from flight by a pebble.

Just when the grey rain cleared enough
to take a photograph and find the atmospherics
I’d so looked forward to, your mobile rang.

Our teenage son in Corsica, wild-camping with a hammock
in the heatwave. You stepped to the left and the signal died.
I asked you if you’d heard his voice. ‘No,’ you sighed,

wondering why he’d phoned – assuming it was not
his friends who’d tried, or someone official from a ward.
You’d been standing on the line between the axials

and the portals, where the sun still casts
its westerly rays on midwinter’s day above the mountain
by the sea, precise as a laser . . . so, shuttling in cross-stitch

and staring at the mobile, we searched like fallen adepts
for the place, that square foot of pulse
you’d stepped out of sync from, not quite

keeping sentinel enough. And wandering still further,
out of the stone circle and up into the heather
then worrying the track back to the gravel of car park,

it was as if we’d caught on the too-warm air
word of something dreadful that only the wise
might know how to neutralise: deciding what the offerings

should be; and who must be sacrificed, and where.

Tour Magne, Nîmes

A broken molar on the top of the hill
stooled by pigeons who make a dovecote of it,

dazzling in the sunlight swept by today’s
mistral, it flaunts its imperial decay

in green spots of pellitory-of-the-wall,
in broken arches and a ragged crown

giddying into clouds where the look-outs once
surveyed the world as known to Rome.

It reminds me of the Pentagon. And of my son’s
Czech schoolmate – a brilliant girl –

who threw herself over its rail last year,
leaving only a note in her bedroom:

You thought you knew me. I’m sorry.

Send Letters To:

The Editor
London Review of Books,
28 Little Russell Street
London, WC1A 2HN

Please include name, address, and a telephone number.


Vol. 28 No. 24 · 14 December 2006

It was with horror that I saw that an error on the part of my finger or mind had substituted an ‘l’ for a ‘b’ in my poem ‘Dromleg’. The stone circle, probably the best-known in Ireland, is of course called Drombeg.

Adam Thorpe

send letters to

The Editor
London Review of Books
28 Little Russell Street
London, WC1A 2HN

Please include name, address and a telephone number

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.

Read More

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