Perhaps we have only ourselves to blame. By awarding last year’s top prize to an underwater entry, and then publishing a watery cover one week into the contest, we were asking for it. There have been an unprecedented number of entries to this year’s #readeverywhere competition that feature pools, streams, rivers, lakes and seas. These readers seem to be forgetting something important: the London Review of Books isn’t waterproof.
Perhaps you were lulled into a false sense of security by Adam Smyth’s recent description of the time the Jacobean poet John Taylor ‘sailed forty miles down the Thames to Queenborough on the Isle of Sheppey in a boat made from brown paper’. And what happened to him? ‘Our rotten bottom all to tatters fell,/And left our boat as bottomless as hell.’ Take another look at that winning entry from last year:
Yes, that copy of the paper’s wrapped in plastic; it doesn’t take a lot of splashing before the LRB will all to tatters fall. So please, take all the risks you want for the sake of the perfect #readeverywhere pic, but don’t endanger the integrity of the paper.
If you’ve already turned all your copies to mush, remember that you can take out a joint subscription to the LRB and the Paris Review for one low price, anywhere in the world, until the end of August. It’ll mean you’ll have 24 issues of the former, and four of the latter, to take better care of next year.