I came upon this issue among a cache of Grantas on the for-sale shelf at my local library. I bought about a dozen of them for a quarter each. They all dated from between 1987 and 1995. Amid the many great fiction and non-fiction works, many of the articles in these issues capture the emerging new culture in Eastern Europe brought about by the fall of the Soviet Union. Reportage of current incidents like Tiananmen Square are real-time and they make these back issues fantastic time capsules.
Among the works in this issue:
- Jonathan Raban's 'New World' recalls his journey across the Atlantic on a freighter. Great observations of his eventual destination, 1970's New York City.
- Patricia Highsmith's 'Scene of the Crime' describes her meditations on the exact spot where the idea for Ripley came to her - the concept of place and why we always are draw to return to places where things happened.
- Two amazing series of photographs - First -Patrick Zachmann's 'Walled City of Hong Kong', a view into the microcosm of a behemoth apartment block in all its lurid details; and Second -Jill Hartley's haunting 'Poland'.
- Patrick McGrath describes his unusual boyhood experiences in 'A Childhood in Broadmoor Hospital'. McGrath's father was a medical superintendent there and the place clearly forged much into his consciousness which readers would later see in his writing.
As each new Granta comes out these days, I keep hoping it will feel like these older volumes from the late 80's / early 90's. I suppose this is commensurate with so many things I do...trying return to that which the world has found obsolete.I also feel odd featuring an item from Slimbo's Shelf that's not readily available at your local bookstore. But back issues of Granta are easily available on Amazon.com. Many used copies can be picked up for a penny (plus S&H).