Book Review: Lapham’s Quarterly: Intoxication
For nearly three decades, essayist and author Lewis Lapham steered the good ship Harper’s as its editor-in-chief and figurehead. He stepped down from the masthead five years ago, and went on to establish a journal of history and ideas, Lapham’s Quarterly, tackling contemporary topics and placing them in a historical context. He calls on voices across time to establish an educational and entertaining narrative in an attempt to build a compelling case that there is truly nothing new under the sun. In every issue Lapham asserts and presents evidence that many of the issues and events we face today have happened before in some incarnation on the dotted timeline of our past.
In the most recent installment, Lapham and his band of editors tackle a subject many know a thing or two about: intoxication. With contributions ranging from such established names as Sedaris, Joyce, Tolstoy, Melville, Milton, and Plato, the issue covers a wide range of authors pontificating on the urge, the high, and eventual comedown from the spell of vice. Interspersed throughout are infographics, quotes, new essays, and a section filled with random (but engaging) miscellany that concludes the issue effectively. If nothing else, it will leave readers full of useful trivia with which to impress at the next whiskey bar.
The opening preamble (always crafted by Lapham) is online for your reading enjoyment and consideration, free of charge. At over 200 pages with full color graphics and entirely free of advertisements, it is an absolute steal that few other journals in its price range could provide. The quarterly also features audio podcasts and additional content via its Tumblr page. Enjoy it with a glass or two (or three) of your favorite poison.