JOURNAL

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Reviews: Beware the Bear

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Aaron Hicklin reviews The Feral Detective, in which Jonathan Lethem conjures Burning Man if it was directed by Hitchcock.

On the penultimate page of his pacy 11th novel, The Feral Detective, slick-tongued protagonist, Phoebe Siegler, touches the umpteenth nerve ending of Lethem’s urbane, metropolitan readers. “I wasn’t going back to op-eds and conceptual art installations and Paris Review parties and scrolling outraged updates interspersed with pastry photographs,” she muses to herself. “Better no world than that one, sweet as it had been. It was gone.” It’s a neat coda to Lethem’s ambitious attempt to examine, and frequently eviscerate, the primitive call-response mechanism of the Trump presidency, and the sense of impotent rage it perpetually engenders. Phoebe, of course, is a stand-in for the reader—hollowed out by the outcome of an election she didn’t see coming, and left questioning the privileges she once took for granted. Read More Beware the Bear

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Feature: My Year in Books

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Meghan Udell, a producer of the Deep Water Literary Fest, read over 120 books this year. She picks her ten favorites.

 

Every year on my birthday I set a personal goal for myself. For all intents and purposes, it’s exactly like a New Year’s resolution, except I get the distinct and petty pleasure of telling people, “I don’t do New Year’s resolutions.”

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Feature: Double Exposure

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Cecil Beaton may be best known for his society portraits, but like Bill Brandt and Robert Capa, some of his most powerful photography was taken during the Second World War.

Portrait of a soldier sitting with water cans, Western Desert, 1942. Courtesy IWM.

By Bella Bathurst

At the outbreak of war in 1939, the British establishment mistrusted photography almost as much as they mistrusted Nazis.  “Snappers” were seen as vulgar and intrusive, and though the military benefits of the medium had already been proven during the First World War the armed services did their very best to avoid any connection with it.  Their enemy had no such qualms: when war broke out, all professional German photographers were conscripted into a specialized unit known as the PK (Propaganda Kompanien) and instructed to “influence the course of the war by psychological control of the mood at home, abroad, at the Front and in enemy territory.”  Those who did not – who failed to produce patriotic or compelling images, or who refused to shoot certain subjects – were reassigned to the Russian Front.

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