If you’re anything like me, though I hope that you’re not, the top of your internet browser is peppered with tabs, each one designating an article or blogpost I assure myself I will get around to reading as long as it stays visible while I work towards completing other things. Such as my manuscript.
Currently the open tabs include blogger Annette Gendler’s list of literary nonfiction journals that accept simultaneous submissions, Poets & Writers’ Tools for Writers resource page, and the LA Times‘ review of the book Literary Brooklyn, a book that I desperately want to read and to write about but suspect I won’t do either for some time, hence making me yet again hopelessly behind the invisible but apparently all-important “curve”. There are also two guilt-inducing tabs – my Toodledo list, with which I have an ambivalent, that is to say often hostile, relationship; and the London Review of Books Subscribe page.
The open tab that I finally got around to reading was not one I had to read at all, but rather one to view and listen to – broadcaster Ramona Koval’s conversation with essayist Eliot Weinberger at the 2011 Melbourne Writers Festival. (I would have embedded the link but either SlowTV doesn’t let you or I can’t figure out how to do it.) A friend from my Sydney PEN days has long raved about Weinberger, and by listening to him for an hour I am now impatient to read pretty much everything he’s written.
Most interesting was Weinberger’s insistence that he regards the essay as “unexplored territory” still “stuck in 18th-Century modes”, at least in English. He writes from the starting point of “not making anything up,” which made the essay for which he is best known, What I Heard About Iraq, so powerful.
Having discovered that Weinberger is a regular contributor to the London Review of Books, I conducted a search which returned a list of 19 items with his byline, including the original 2005 Iraq essay, its 2006 follow-up, and other things I felt compelled to read. Some of these pieces are for subscribers only. After years of “must get around to it”, I am finally taking the plunge with an LRB subscription. And that will be one less tab I’ll need to keep open on my browser.