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This article is taken from PN Review 200, Volume 37 Number 6, June - July 2011.

Taste of Treason Frederic Raphael
One of the curiosities of contemporary print is the spread of publications halfway between advertising brochures and what used to be called 'little magazines'. One such is The London Library Magazine, which is delivered gratuitously to members. Do contributors receive payment for their articles? Probably the honour of being circulated to so many literary and literate persons is recompense enough. Those featured in the winter issue were listed, like good Old Boys and good Old Girls, with the dates on which they joined the library attached to their boxed pictures. Out of the seven, six can be described as journalists. One such is Nigel Farndale, of whom I had never heard until I read his article on 'Writers Who Pick the Wrong Side'.

It begins:

Whenever a controversial issue is in the air, be it genetic engineering, immigration control or paedophilia in the priesthood, broadsheet editors invariably pick up the phone to a Lisa Jardine, a Ben Elton or a P.D. James and ask for a thousand words by five o'clock. Yet why should we care what such writers think?

As an eye-catching, thumb-to-nosey start, this is a paradigm of how to nuzzle up to the average punter who doesn't rate regular calls from editors. Chummy and casual (editors do not 'invariably' call on 'a' x, y, or z), it knocks down a trio of established Names whom the reader can be presumed to have heard of, but is unlikely to hold particularly ...


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