Anakana Schofield – Author of Martin John and Malarky

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.

Was pleased to see a two part review in the New York Review of Books by Marcia Angell published in two issues of the journal. I like the expansion on ideas this double approach affords the writer and provides to the reader and you have time to consider inbetween or if you’re late to the read can zip straight into the second part.

In it (part one here and part two here) Ms Angell considers several recent titles that question the efficacy of psychiatric drugs, the frenzy with which they’re prescribed, the billowing DSM, the relationship between the pscychiatry and Big Pharma and more.

I’d be curious to hear Ms Angell’s position on the denial of surgery to smokers until they cease smoking in Sweden.

I was particularly intrigued by the debunking of chemical imbalance as the cause of depression and the shift to isolating and treating the brain since the 1970’s.

NYRB audio and Sontag

Some curious audio links of various writers (incl Susan Sontag, Joan Didion) reading from essays they wrote for the New York Review of Books down the years.

 On Susan Sontag there’s also a review in the latest NYRB of her son’s memoir (Swimming in a Sea of Death: A Son’s Memoir. David Rieff) which piqued my interest in seeking out the book. I read the review while in the throws of pneumonia and was uplifted by her extraordinary determination in dealing with her numerous health battles and the way “Her unwillingness to accept her own mortality continued onto her deathbed…”

 Forget antibiotics, stock up on Sontag.