London review of books dating ads


21-Jul-2016 18:00

Look closer and you find a publication as singular and sometimes eccentric as its editor.

The journal is perhaps best known among general readers for Alan Bennett’s annual diary. ‘‘We met in the early Sixties,’’ she says, with a little laugh.

Or perhaps the gentleman found himself condemned to purchasing the stone horses.

At any rate, he would hardly have wanted to publicize his placing such an ad, which was, and therefore had best remain, anonymous.

One might have “very accomplished manners,” earn a fair annual income, speak three languages, and play instruments—all desirable characteristics in a proper female person of marriageable age—but if one advertised those qualities anonymously, as did one such “young lady” in the pages of the in 1858, one was opening the door to fantasy, romance, Eros, possibly elopement. Proper or not, however, lonely hearts could now have an outlet, a place in which to dream of a better life, to take a step beyond the strictures of imposed order.

At this time of year – the bookshop shelves twinkling with gold-embossed celebrity memoirs – it’s easy to feel a chill of despair.

Yet there is always something a little seedy to the enterprise.As any boob who's seen a Hugh Grant flick knows, self-deprecation is a competitive sport in England — and, apparently, the LRB classified section is its Olympics. Zoom in on that rare hard spine, pull it out and turn it around to reveal those oh-so-tantalizing tactile jagged pages — oh, the money shot! When you add up the advanced degrees of its readership, combined with waiting-for-tenure student-loan debts, minus a pence-per-word price tag, how could you not get knee-slappers like "Love is strange — wait 'til you see my feet. In my mind, it read something like this: "I was wearing black and standing in the French New Wave section of Kim's Video in the West Village. Add those ubiquitous "reading is sexy" T-shirts and bumper stickers, and the intimate eroticism of the images inside Stefan Bollmann's Reading Women, which came out last year, and you might see where this is headed. 3: The objectification of books "University lecturer in Russian Literature (male, 57). Just when we thought it was bouncing back, Publishers Group West, the leading distributor responsible for such indie publishers as Soft Skull Press and Mc Sweeney's, went belly up. In times of despair, and indeed these are desperate times, we rely on our sense of humor (and if we're lucky, sex) to help us through the darkness. Since beginning this piece, my boyfriend of four months dumped me.

The only time I considered placing a missed connections post was after a video store celebrity sighting. It's no surprise that the actress was a recent cover girl for Bust, the third-wave feminist magazine that also recently featured a slightly questionable sexy librarian fashion spread. Unless, of course, you were raised Catholic, in which case you're lucky to get a terse instructional on how to use a sanitary pad and a near-fainting spell upon mentioning tampons. Everyone loves a good "print publishing is dead" story. But if I were to do so, it'd probably read something like this: "Pitiably desperate female, two months shy of 30, two teeth shy of a full set of crowns, yet arguably cute, seeks affordable dentist — or rather, another chance to prove she's not as heartless, bitter and fearful of love as she's let on for the entire duration of this article, and/or the past four months." Melissa Giannini is a freelance writer. In a recent issue, in fact, we're asked the eternal question: "While these ads may reveal the undeniable erudition of their authors, do they actually get anyone laid? But people who look sweet on screen are often hiding things like this saucy bit from Lola: "Baste me in butter and call me Slappy. In turn, we can hope that our personal ads (and maybe even American dating) will improve. But the My Spacers are the ones adjusting constructively to a phenomenon that affects us all — the inevitable death of privacy." My main gripe with the traditional American personal ad is that it's incredibly dehumanizing. The more current offerings are more individualized, but they create the "problem" of having too many choices.



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