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 PoemsJohn Ashbery

Days like Today

Sometimes, on Sundays,
they walk a little ways into the oval
spell others are soft on. She, a maid,
unknown to terror, rising out of the ridge,
its spreading cedars bemused and endearing.
The ancestors have never been influenced by
any kind of logic, not even a shrike’s,
and now I can’t even say what a hornet’s-eye view
of this catastrophe might englobe, if we were all
brothers and near to one another.
She has lovely things, but tainted
by the idea of a wall.

The Ciribiribin Society cancelled its annual
gymkhana, thank heaven for that, and the tool booth,
often described as ‘gritty’, had no choice
but to reel in its feelers. The difference
wasn’t anal, only velour. Such staff as I
command were only too pleased to hand
me over to the local authorities
once the matter had been digested,
i.e. disposed of. That, and the promise
of something wonderful being about to happen
in the tall grass that is never silent,
not completely, was reason enough for a celebration
that never came. We were half-sure
of who we were, but uncertain whether to greet
the fliers who arrived in great exultant waves
flying too close to the horizon and its goads.
It’s more like standing, you said, and I promised
not to break the spell, at least until morning.

Postlude and Prequel

Would I lie to you? I don’t know what to say to you,
and the season is coming into season just now
with long-awaited words from back when we were
friends and still are, of course, but the tides
pursue their course each day. Perturbing elements
listen in the wings, which are coming apart at the seams.
Is it all doggerel and folderol? A cracked knowledge?
Monkey journalism?

This is better than the other overlooked good
that dried up a while back and whispers.
The results, if any, won’t last too much longer
and I meanwhile am on my way to correct you
about the tickets and their availability.
We pitch and stiffen, elbowed by traffic mysteriously
descending the other lane of the avenue
as lamps burst in many-benched Central Park.

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