London Review of Books editor Mary-Kay Wilmers is looking for a new employee. The ideal hire, if an American, “would have to say all the right things about the publication-and have a knowledge of history, as we’re a bit lacking at the moment.”
Ms. Wilmers, sipping Campari at a book party in her honor at Pravda, asked The Observer what we thought of political situation in the Middle East, and after a few carefully chosen words, we reminded her that we were not employed by an international publication. She winced. “America thinks about its interests far too much. I was here when this all began, in Egypt, and the news said: ‘Area relevant to U.S. interests in crisis.’ I don’t worry about the interests of the U.S.” She winced again–or perhaps it was an impish grin. “Or of Netanyahu.”
Politics were on the minds of many attendees, including Nation editor Katrina vanden Heuvel, who was obsessing over Wisconsin–“It’s not just about pay and perks for workers-it’s about 30 years of right-wing assault!”–while preparing for a Saturday flight to Moscow, for the release of her husband’s new book. She’ll be attending Mikhail Gorbachev’s 80th birthday party while she’s there. What will she give him? “I haven’t thought about that. He has an extraordinarily beautiful family, and that’s such a gift.”
The Observer also spoke to Nation columnist Katha Pollitt, who was troubled by the Wisconsin protests as well. “I’m going to send [the protesters] a pizza tomorrow! I found out about this today and I thought they had enough pizza at that point.” What else was on Ms. Pollitt’s mind? The dearth of female bylines. “The LRB could do better,” she advised The Observer, making sure to add, “Don’t make me sound stupid.” We’d call her lively, even luminescent, we advised Ms. Pollitt, effusively. “‘Opalescent’ is a good word,” she said.