Gay Talese Shames Us at the Launch of ‘Lapham’s Quarterly’As expected, reproofs of modern American journalism were flying Wednesday night at the launch of Harper’s editor emeritus Lewis Lapham’s new magazine, Lapham’s Quarterly, the first issue of which contains essays and correspondence on the topic of war from writers as diverse as Sun Tzu and Mark Twain. Needless to say, neither of them was at the party. But Gay Talese was!
Ten Questions From a Non-Genius to Lewis LaphamLewis Lapham is smarter than we are. See, he’s just brought forth this new quarterly, which will deal with history through the words, images, and thoughts with which that history was recorded. Yeah, that much smarter. Each issue of Lapham’s Quarterly will deal with a theme, and the first theme is “War.” In this edition, he includes essays, poetry, speeches, photographs, diagrams, lists, quotes and timelines from all of recorded history. Hence, works by Shakespeare, Virgil, Tim O’Brien, Herodotus (duh), Pope Urban II, Jessica Lynch, and dozens of others appear. Yeah, it’s like that, y’all. In Lapham’s introductory note, he explains: “The method assumes that all writing, whether scientific treatise, tabloid headline, or minimalist novel, is an attempt to tell a true story.” (FYI: That was about the shortest sentence in his essay, and therefore the only one we could include in a blog post.) In other words, Lapham’s Quarterly is epic. It’s historic. It’s all-encompassing.
But we have some questions. We are not historians, we are not experts in anything, we didn’t even read War & Peace in college. But maybe that’s why we can see the forest for the trees? After the jump, ten genuine questions a non-genius might ask Lewis Lapham about his new magnum opus .