Castro the Copy Editor, and Other News


On the Shelf

Pausing to make a correction in a manuscript, no doubt.


  • While we’re in the UK, let’s pay a visit to Kidlington, a village north of Oxford where Chinese tourists have been turning out by the busload. Why are they here? No one knows. Some deep cross-cultural affinity is expressing itself, some mystery of the human condition, some anxious gassy hiccup of global capital—it might have to do with garbage cans. Dan Bilefsky, on the scene, writes, “The Chinese visitors fanned out of a tour bus, and suddenly stopped, transfixed, as if marveling at the Venus de Milo or the Eiffel Tower. Then they began photographing an unremarkable 1970s suburban home, an oak tree, a rosebush and a garbage bin. ‘It’s beautiful,’ Liu Jingwen of Guangdong Province said as one of her travel companions crouched with his camera on the edge of a lawn and took a selfie in front of a small red brick bungalow … One tourist asked a stunned resident if he could help mow her lawn. (She politely declined.) Another jumped joyously on a child’s trampoline in the front yard.”
  • Matthew Zapruder is trying to find a role for poets in Trump’s America—even if he more or less agrees with Auden’s famous claim that poetry makes nothing happen. “It may very well be that we have entered another time when most poets will feel compelled to use poetry to stop things from happening. Yet I believe that even if poetry did not do this, it would be vital to our survival … Poems of course at times convince, explain, advocate, argue, but in the end, they always are ultimately interested in something else. We could call that something else beauty, or the possibilities of language, or maybe just freedom. It is something that has to do with allowing the mind to be completely, almost anarchically interested in exploring the possibilities of the material of language itself.”
  • In her new book Naming Thy Name, Elaine Scarry tries out a new theory—she believes she’s identified the beloved man to whom Shakespeare addressed his sonnets. Andrew Motion writes, “According to Scarry … the mystery man is Henry Constable, a little-known poet and contemporary of Shakespeare’s whose name will be known only to scholars of the period … The Bard’s devotion to his friend, we’re told, ‘is present in the micro texture of the sonnets, in their overarching architecture, and in their deep fabric.’ What does Scarry mean by ‘micro texture’? She means that she has discovered several lines in the sonnets in which most if not all the letters of Henry Constable’s name appear, scattered among the other letters that constitute the surface sense. ‘So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,’ for instance, or ‘That in black ink my love may still shine bright.’ ”