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31 December 2009updated 27 Sep 2015 4:07am

Editorial intelligence

The LRB gives up hope on James Wood

By Jonathan Derbyshire

A small, incidental pleasure (among many larger ones) of reading the London Review of Books is the occasional editorial intervention in the “In the next issue” notice on the contents page. In the current edition of the paper, alongside advance warning of pieces by Perry Anderson, David Trotter and James Lever, the editorial voice announces that “We’ve given up hope of James Wood on Lermontov”.

I seem to remember Zadie Smith being the object of similar exasperation in the same place a couple of years ago — and however mild and mock-diffident that exasperation is, I’d have thought the very fact that it’s public is a rather effective goad to the recalcitrant, prevaricating writer. That said, the list of contributors on the LRB‘s website suggests that Smith still hasn’t delivered, so clearly the tactic doesn’t always work.

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