A Use for the London Review of Books & You Can’t Be a Snob in a Caucus State

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The other day, I  found a use for the London Review of Books.

We like to keep the LRB in the plastic sleeve until it’s time to recycle it.

“Please get that out of here,” my husband says every time it arrives.

“There must be something in it,” I said.

Oddly, there was nothing that interested us.

According to VIDA, the LRB is London’s most sexist intellectual bimonthly review. And, indeed, much as I want to believe I am a chrone beyond gender, I can only find it in my heart to read one really famous sexist London publication a year. (We prefer the  TLS, which does a stupendous job covering classics and literature in translation.)  Last year in the LRB, I plowed through a few of Jenny Diski’s spiteful essays on Doris Lessing and an unbelievably sexist article on Hillary Clinton.  As you  see, I favor articles by or about women.  Essentially, the only regular woman writer in the LRB is Diski.

Tired of cold boots, I finally had an LRB brainstorm.  I brought the boots in from the mud room and plopped them on top of the LRB to dry.

Yup, our year’s free subscription was not for nothing.

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                                  Democratic Caucus, 2008

THE CAUCUSES.  We’re gearing up for the Democratic Caucuses here. It’s the Olympics of the hinterlands, only it’s political!  And there’s nothing else to do here in the winter.

Only thirteen states have caucuses: Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Kansas, Maine, Minnesota, Nevada, North Dakota, Wyoming and Iowa. The rest of the states  have primaries.  I favor the secret ballot, but live in a caucus state.  We’re raising hands in school gyms here.

The caucuses are a lot of work.  Are you sociable?  You’ll love it.   You mill and throng with fellow Democrats (or Republicans, if that’s your preference) at a designated location in your precinct on a winter’s night, usually a school auditorium or church.  You chat and drink a glass of cider (we Democrats are hip and that’s what we serve),  and then you stand up for your candidate, and there is a count of heads or hands.

I went to the caucus in 2004,  and we spent a lot of time persuading one of our fellow Howard Dean supporters not to go over to the “dark side,” i.e., John Edwards.   “If you go, Dean’s out of the running,” we pointed out.  And so she stayed, though she wanted to hang with her friends, and Dean, by one vote, came in third.  That was John Kerry’s year, though all the magazines said the polls favored Dean.

Hillary is said to be a sure bet this year. Do the polls know?  My mother loved Hillary and hoped to see her elected president. Hilary is a hard worker, if a bit uncomfortable at times, and I have always liked her.   I think she should have won the Nobel Peace Prize for her work as Secretary of State.  (Obama won it in 2009, essentially just for being elected.)

Actually, I don’t want to go to the caucus.

If I go, I am not sure whether to vote for Hillary or Bernie. They have the same stances on most issues, but he is slightly to the left.  And I love that “socialist” and “social democrat” thing he has going.  (Read the blog at The New York Review of Books for information on his views.)

I’m a Socialist in theory, though I never vote socialist.   In reality, I’m  a liberal Democrat. I vote Democrat, because you throw away your vote in a presidential election if you go third-party.

I am astonished by Bernie’s popularity here.  There are throngs of Bernie signs in our neighborhood.  I have seen a couple of Hillary signs and a couple of  Trump signs, but nothing for other candidates.  This is, however, a liberal precinct.

I would like to see a woman elected president.  Feminism is very important to me.   Am I beyond gender, or am I not?

I am torn. I like both candidates.  (I am sure O’Malley is going nowhere here.)  If it were a primary, I would vote, but the caucus is a lot of work.

Whether I go to the caucus or not, I will vote for the Democratic candidate in the election in November.

Nancy Drew & the Mystery of the LRB

I recently received a copy of the London Review of Books.

London Review of Books cov3701It must be a sample copy, I thought.  Only there were no subscription cards inside.

I scanned the Table of Contents and turned to Jenni Diski’s “Doris and Me,” an engrossing essay about her life as a teenager at Doris Lessing’s house.

And then I forgot all about it.

Yesterday a second issue  arrived.

The label on the plastic wrapper says I have a three-year subscription.

Very mysterious.

Oddly, it is addressed to me under my nickname, not my formal “subscription” name.

“Does it have anything to do with your blog?”  my husband teased me.

I burst out laughing.

The situation reminds me of the plot of the Nancy Drew book, Nancy’s Mysterious Letter, which I read when I was nine.

Nancy's Mysterious Letter old drew8blue4On the opening page the postman brings a letter.

Hello, Nancy,” he said. “…Lots of letters today. There’s one in the bottom of my bag for you. It was sent air mail from London, England.”

The  letter says Nancy is an heiress, only it turns out another Nancy Drew is the heiress.  So maybe I’m getting an LRB that is supposed to go to another me?

Since it first arrived a few weeks ago, I have been bombarded with offers of subscriptions to book review publications.

The TLS wants me to subscribe. I already do.

Poets & Writers offered me a deal and enclosed a gift of the tinest notepad in existence.

The New York Review of Books would like to pile up unread on our porch.

What would Nancy Drew do?

I’m sure there would be phone calls, letters, interviews, instagrams (whatever instagrams are).

I’ll just read the LRB instead.