Noted in the NYRB
In the latest edition of the NYRB two different reviews by two different writers named Michael open with a confessional I:
Michael Lewis review of Capital by John Lancaster opens:
“When I moved to London for graduate school back in the early 1980’s the city felt as if it existed for just about every purpose other than for people to make money in it.”
Michael Scammell’s review of Douglas Smith’s Former People: The Final Days of the Russian Aristocracy opens:
“When I was studying Russian at a British army language school in the 1950’s, most of my teachers were Russian emigres who had fled the Bolshevik Revolution.”
In both of these review openings, the writers seem to be asserting some kind of authority on the material they are about to review for us by placing themselves geographically at its source. Why? In both cases, the writers assert they are reminded by those particular days they cite by the books they have read. We don’t care. Really we don’t care. Truly we don’t care what you are reminded off. We especially don’t care when we think about the VIDA pie charts last week. If the NYRB can’t be arsed to assign more reviews to women on the grounds that there aren’t women who have authority on these topics (the chronic excuse), well I don’t consider either of these openings establish authority. They are, in short, confessional guff. I can write confessional guff with ease and thus now find myself qualified to write on both these topics.