Diary

Media Theranos

Pooja Bhatia

Ben Smith’s story in the New York Times about the attempted fraud dealt a severe blow, but Ozy Media wouldn’t have died so swiftly if it hadn’t been for the torrent of follow-up stories, many of which relied on information from people who had worked there. For us, the week Ozy closed felt like a virtual reunion. We gathered round the bed of the dying patriarch. We lamented the blight on our CVs, and the years of work and good faith we’d given the company. Tentatively, we asked one another if we were talking to reporters, and if so which ones. We dug around for our employment contracts and parsed them: would we be sued if we talked? Could this or that off-the-record story be traced to an individual? We criticised the emerging stories for neglecting certain angles, or overlooking the actual journalism. Some of us said we couldn’t face talking about it to anyone, let alone a reporter. Most of all, I think, we asked ourselves why we’d stayed so long.

 

Swingeing Taxes

Ferdinand Mount

‘You  were so generous, you British,’ Hans-Dietrich Genscher, West Germany’s perpetual foreign minister in the 1980s, once remarked: ‘You gave us a decentralised federal structure and a proportional system of election so that never again could we concentrate power at the centre, but you took neither of these for yourselves.’ Canadians and Australians...

Diary

In Lebanon

Stefan Tarnowski

InJune, there was a debate in our building about whether to rayyih al-moteur (‘rest the generator’) at night or during the day. We had electricity from the national grid for only one hour in 24. In July, the only way to cool down in the afternoon was to strip off and lie sweating on the apartment’s terrazzo floor. By August, diesel shortages meant that not even the rich...

 

On Cortney Lamar Charleston

Stephanie Burt

Doppelgangbanger,​ the second collection of poems by Cortney Lamar Charleston (Haymarket, £12), describes growing up Black in white suburbia. In ‘Hip-Hop Introspective’:

Kids ask what FUBU means. White girls look at meconstantly. DMX never seems to be screaming.The underground heads north on my playlistswhile an old poster peels away from the wall.I’m beside myself...

 

Sex with Satan

Deborah Friedell

Whatwould the young Jonathan Franzen – an acolyte of Gaddis and Pynchon who identified with Kafka – make of the novels he would go on to write? That man was determined that ‘Franzen’ should connote ‘high art’, his own portmanteau of ‘high modern’ and ‘art fiction’. For years he dedicated himself to the conspiratorial plot of the...

Away with Words

Away with Words

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Made by Free Hands

Michael Taylor

‘Everything is wet,’ Martin Benson recorded, after inspecting his cargo. ‘Not a single hogshead that we have yet opened, but has been wet with salt water.’ Benson came from Newport, Rhode Island, and had sailed from there with tobacco, cotton cloths and rum to the British colony of Sierra Leone. A former slave trader, Benson now worked in the service of abolition, and...

 

Ten Years in Sheerness

Patrick McGuinness

In Uwe Johnson’s work, perspective doesn’t come from a bird’s-eye view but from staying at eye level – from looking and never stopping. His characters are suspicious of any claim that there is an omniscient history.

 

China takes it slow

Rebecca E. Karl

InJuly 1978, Hu Qiaomu, a sociologist who was working in Deng Xiaoping’s Political Research Office, issued a dire report on the Chinese peasantry. Hu wasn’t known as a supporter of radical reform, but he nevertheless called for something to be done to mitigate the effects of the socialist industrialisation programme. Over the previous three decades China’s agricultural...

25-29 October

Conversations about power: who wields it, where it resides and why, with Mary Beard, Emma Cline, Adom Getachew, Mahmood Mamdani, Hilary Mantel, Adam Phillips, David Runciman, Helen Thompson and Michael Wolff.

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Encounters with Medieval Women

In a new podcast miniseries, Irina Dumitrescu and Mary Wellesley look at the lives and voices of women in medieval literature through four key texts, ranging roughly from the year 300 to 1500. The episodes will feature Mary of Egypt, Julian of Norwich, Margery Kempe and the Wife of Bath.

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