In the latest issue:

Loathed by Huysmans

Julian Barnes

Too early or too late?

David Runciman

Short Cuts: ‘Parallel Lives’

Tom Crewe

Society as a Broadband Network

William Davies

Indefinite Lent

Thomas Jones

In 1348

James Meek

The House of York

John Guy

At the Movies: Pasolini’s ‘Teorema’

Michael Wood

Secrets are like sex

Neal Ascherson

Poem: ‘The Bannisters’

Paul Muldoon

Clarice Lispector

Rivka Galchen

Marius Petipa

Simon Morrison

At the Foundling Museum: ‘Portraying Pregnancy’

Joanne O’Leary

Caroline Gordon v. Flannery O’Connor

Rupert Thomson


Joe Dunthorne

Poem: ‘The Reach of the Sea’

Maureen N. McLane

Diary: Where water used to be

Rosa Lyster

How to set up an ICU

Lana Spawls

Follow the Science

James Butler

Three PoemsHugo Williams

The Reading

If I turn round now
I’ll be back at school,
arranging the chairs in the Library
with Briggs and Napier.
Briggs is chair monitor for readings.
He’s flicking through a copy of my new book,
‘An Actor’s Life for Me’,
and making animal noises.
A display card on the table
shows me smiling, holding up
the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry.

They have taken me down to the gym
and put me inside the horse.
They push it across the splintery floorboards
while I run along inside,
trying to stay upright,
looking out of the hand-holds,
till it crashes into a wall.
Photos of me with the Queen
are floating in the bath
when they force my head under
and hold it there.

As Good as New

What a relief to see our Beerbohm caricatures
still hanging in the dining-room
and the dining table still there
with the extra leaf being used.
The Regency chair I broke has come back
from the repairers as good as new
and the Staffordshire china hasn’t been auctioned off
to keep me at school.

Best of all, the Marie Laurencin self-portrait
didn’t go down with the rest of the stuff
on its way to Portugal. Its brown smudges of eyes
look out across the fields
as if they were looking into the future.
One of our old musicals is playing
on the broken radiogram. I lean on the back of the sofa
and practise the Charleston.

Spin the Board

I have disentangled my limbs
from a crowd of small boys
sitting or lying about
on mattresses in the gym

and hurled myself back
into the noise and light
where Ashley or someone
has given the breadboard a spin

and calmly stands there
waiting for it to run down
to its last few revolutions
before calling out my number.

Not for the first time
in this repetitive game
have I gone into a dive
across the floor of the gym,

one arm stretched out
to try and get a fingernail
under the edge of the board
before it rattles to a standstill.

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