In The Critics this week

Christopher Caldwell, EastEnders and the New Left Review.

"An amalgam of every orientalist prejudice known to man and history." As part of our Islam special, Ziauddin Sardar neatly despatches Christopher Caldwell's predictions of a Muslim takover of Europe in his review of Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam and the West.

Elsewhere, Jonathan Derbyshire salutes the New Left Review's 50th anniversary (or "quinquagenary") issue; John Lanchester talks to the NS about his book on the financial crisis, Whoops!; Anne McElvoy skewers the new Alastair Campbell novel; and Daniel Trilling and Yasmeen Khan mark 25 years of EastEnders.

Plus, there are the usual columns from our award-winning critics: Ryan Gilbey (on the documentary Food, Inc), Rachel Cooke (on the BBC's Syrian School), Antonia Quirke (on the Super Bowl) and Will Self (on the rare pleasures of the hotel breakfast).

The issue is on sale now, or you can subscribe through the website.

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On Wheels

A new poem by Patrick Mackie

The hills swarm and soften towards the end of the day just as
flames do in a fireplace as the evening
loosens and breaks open and lets out night.
A nasty, grotesque, impatient year ended,
and the new one will be bitter,
tired, opaque. Words wrangle in every inch of air,
their mouths wide open in stupid shock
at what they have just heard every time they hear anything. Venus,
though, blazes with heavy wobbles of albeit frozen
light. Brecht, who I like to call my
brother just as he called Shelley his,
has a short late poem where he sits by a roadside, waiting
while someone changes the wheel on his car,
watching with impatience, despite not liking
either the place that he is coming from or
the place that he is going to. We call it
connectivity when in truth it is just aggression
and imitation writ ever larger. Poems, though,
are forms of infinite and wry but also briskly
impatient patience. Brecht’s poem seems to end,
for instance, almost before you
can read it. It wheels. The goddess is just a big, bright
wilderness but then soon enough she clothes
herself again in the openness of night and I lose her.

Patrick Mackie’s latest collection, The Further Adventures Of The Lives Of The Saints, is published by CB Editions.

This article first appeared in the 18 May 2017 issue of the New Statesman, Age of Lies

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