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An Ordinary Woman

Alan Bennett

Anglo-America Loses its Grip

Pankaj Mishra

Short Cuts: John Bolton’s Unwitting Usefulness

Mattathias Schwartz

Smells of Hell

Keith Thomas

Mrs Oliphant

Tom Crewe

Tippett’s Knack

Philip Clark

At Tate Modern: Steve McQueen

Colin Grant

Catherine Lacey

Nicole Flattery

Churchill’s Cook

Rosemary Hill

The ‘Batrachomyomachia’

Ange Mlinko

On Dorothea Lange

Joanna Biggs

Paid to Race

Jon Day

Poem: ‘Traveller’s Tales: Chapter 90’

August Kleinzahler

The Soho Alphabet

Andrew O’Hagan

Old Tunes

Stephen Sedley

Victor Serge’s Defective Bolshevism

Tariq Ali

The Murdrous Machiavel

Erin Maglaque

Diary: Insane after coronavirus?

Patricia Lockwood

You win or you dieJohn Lanchester

John Lanchester’s piece in this issue first appeared on the LRB blog. You can read it here.

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Vol. 41 No. 12 · 20 June 2019

It is a good thing John Lanchester didn’t combine his two interests by watching the last season of Game of Thrones dubbed into Spanish (LRB, 6 June). He would have been flummoxed when one of the characters shouted ‘Sicansíos’, a word not to be found in a Spanish dictionary but which bears some resemblance to ‘She can’t see us.’ It turns out that the translators were stumped by the Geordie accent of one of the actors and decided to go ‘phonetic’.

David Lobina
London NW8

Vol. 41 No. 13 · 4 July 2019

John Lanchester writes that it feels ‘newish’ to use ‘investment’ as a metaphor for having followed a TV series (LRB, 6 June). I first heard the term in 1999. I had written a dark comedy about a young journalist who reads of his own death in the personal columns and spends the movie trying to avoid, outwit or confront his fate. I was asked by a producer if I really thought my audience would be happy to make a two-hour investment in my character only for me to finish him off at the end. I could have cited movies in which exactly this sort of thing happens – Thelma and Louise, One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, to name just two – but was thrown by the question. If I didn’t think the story would work, why would I have written it that way? It seemed perfectly legitimate to me that an audience should make an emotional investment in the characters, the story, the wardrobe or anything else in a movie or a TV series, just as long as they remember that the value of an investment can go down as well as up.

Oliver Wingate
Halesworth, Suffolk

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