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Reflections of a working writer and reader

 

 

Presque vu XXXII

A publisher’s reader examines her profession in The Guardian.

The reader’s report struggles to swim against this current but also has to take it into account. It’s a bit like being an admissions officer at the world’s most selective institution: even the Nobel prize for literature is no guarantee you’ll get in.

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Mr Eugenides and a whole lot more of us wonder if this spells the end of the ID card fiasco:

Millions of litres of ink have already been expended on this catastrophe by people more expert than your scribe (not to mention funnier websites). Suffice it to say, in this regard, that when 25 million records, including 7 million bank account details, can be downloaded onto a CD by a “junior official” – unencrypted, mind you – and stuck in the internal mail, for fuck’s sake, we are well beyond satire. It was when Darling moved to reassure people by revealing that the discs were “password protected” that I started weeping with laughter. (Let’s hope the password wasn’t 1234, eh?)

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Anne Fadiman’s essay in Guardian Online examines the seductive delights of coffee.

Having observed the frisky goats, the imam of a nearby monastery – a sort of medieval Carlos Castaneda – roasted the berries in a chafing dish, crushed them in a mortar, mixed them with boiling water, and drank the brew. When he lay down, he couldn’t sleep. His heartbeat quickened, his limbs felt light, his mood became cheerful and alert. “He was not merely thinking,” wrote Jacob. “His thoughts had become concretely visible. He watched them from the right side and from the left, from above and from below. They raced like a team of horses.” The imam found that he could juggle a dozen ideas in the time it normally took to consider a single one. His visual acuity increased; in the glow of his oil lamp, the parchment on his table looked unusually lustrous and the robe that hung on a nearby peg seemed to swell with life. He felt strengthened, as Jacob put it, “by heavenly food brought to him by the angels of Paradise.”

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