The Banality of Fiction

Letter From Albion

It's Sunday morning in London. The Sunday Times is here. (Yes, we too have a Sunday Times.) The "Week in Review" section is nice and fat. (Yes, it's nice and fat here, too.) Headline: "End Game: Why the Soviets are pulling out of Afghanistan." Photo of Najibullah, photo of Gorbachev, photo of two smiling soldiers. Read-out, in bold: "After eight years tied down to a futile war in Afghanistan, Russia is pulling out." Sample paragraph: "Gorbachev's personal intervention has underlined his conviction that his own prestige, and hence the fate of his glasnost and perestroika policies, is at stake."

Yes, it's Sunday morning in London. Reading the "Report by Askold Krushelnycky, with Stephen Milligan in Washington and Angus Roxburgh in Moscow," fills one with the numb certainty of being in the West. Does truth matter, especially on a Sunday? Is the war futile? Is Russia pulling out? What are Gorbachev's convictions? Who is Gorbachev? What is "prestige"? What are "policies"? Where is the "Travel" section?

Ah, here's the "Travel" section. Let's see. Headline: "USA: Taking a small bite out of the Big Apple." Photo caption: "Central Park: host to wide open spaces, deck chairs and baseball games in a noisy, humorous city where everyone seems to be acting a movie part." Photo of...

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