In the latest issue:

In Quarantine

Erin Maglaque

Après Brexit

Ferdinand Mount

Short Cuts: Springtime for Donald

David Bromwich

Meetings with their Gods

Claire Hall

‘Generation Left’

William Davies

At the North Miami Museum: Alice Paalen Rahon

Mary Ann Caws

Buchan’s Banter

Christopher Tayler

‘American Dirt’

Christian Lorentzen

Fiction and the Age of Lies

Colin Burrow

In Lahore

Tariq Ali


James Lasdun

Rereading Bowen

Tessa Hadley

At the Corner House

Rosemary Hill

William Gibson

Thomas Jones

Poem: ‘Murph & Me’

August Kleinzahler

The Stud File

Kevin Brazil

John Boorman’s Quiet Ending

David Thomson

In Shanghai: The West Bund Museum

John-Paul Stonard

Diary: The Deborah Orr I Knew

Jenny Turner

The Word from Wuhan

Wang Xiuying

Two PoemsBilly Collins


As optical illusions go
it was one of the more spectacular,
a little group of bright stars
appearing to move along the night sky
as if on a secret mission

while, of course, it was the low clouds
that were doing the moving,
scattered over my head by a wind from the east.
And as hard as I looked
I could not get the stars to budge again.

It was like the curious figure
of the duck/rabbit –
even paradoxical Wittgenstein
could not find his way back to the rabbit
once he had beheld the bill of the duck.

But which was which?
Were the stars the rabbit
and the blown clouds the duck?
or the other way around?
You’re being ridiculous,

I said to myself,
on the walk back to the house
but then the correct answer struck me
not like a bolt of lightning,
but more like a heavy bolt of cloth.

The Guest

I know the reason you placed nine white tulips
in a glass vase with water
here in this room a few days ago
was not in order to mark the passage of time
as a fish would if nailed by the tail
to the wall above the bed of a house guest.

But early this morning I did notice
their heads were lowered
in the grey light,
two of them even touching the glass top
of the table near the window,
the blossoms falling open

as they lost their grip on themselves,
and my suitcase only half unpacked by the door.

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