‘The interior of a pocket is hidden away’, writes Francis Whorrall-Campbell in the speculative manifesto ‘Pocket Theory’, a response to Ursula K. Le Guin’s 1986 essay ‘The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction’. ‘Tucked inside we might find weird lives and weird literature.’ Secretive, suggestive, intimate: the pocket, Whorrall-Campbell argues, is a fitting home for chimerical, hard-to-define narratives.
Issue 33 of The White Review contains a number of slippery and illuminating subjects, from the inner cosmos of the sleeping psyche to the murky world of inheritance. ‘The Dream Laboratory of Nicolae Vaschide’, an extract from Mircea Cărtărescu’s surrealist novel Solenoid (2015), translated from the Romanian by Sean Cotter, describes the hallucinogenic awakening of a child prodigy who becomes a psychologist and dream scientist. ‘His thoughts, until then unsettled and cold like crystal vials, now burst open’, Cărtărescu writes, ‘the way a lily bud bursts, arching and turning in a brilliant efflorescence’. In an interview with Noga Arikha, the author Siri Hustvedt discusses her polymathic practice, the problems with mind- body dualism and her experiences of working across literature and the sciences. ‘Let Them Know by Signs’, an essay by Rosa Campbell and Taushif Kara, traces the strange histories and causes of the conspiracy theory, from the Kenyan belief that British colonisers were stealing the blood of Africans to strengthen anaemic Europeans, to QAnon and Pizzagate.
‘There’s a family tree that my uncle was able to recover,’ Ariel Saramandi writes in the ‘The Inheritors’. ‘Some of the branches were drawn to look like fingers; at my great-grandfather’s name there’s an amputation, a cut to mark the place where whiteness ends’. ‘The Inheritors’ combines essay and fiction to piece together an account of land dispossession in Mauritius, where Creole heirs were routinely cut off and land documents buried in archives or destroyed. The weight of inheritance is also explored in Gina Apostol’s new fiction ‘The Court Case’, in which a flamboyant mother chases after a lost family estate in the Philippines. In Brazilian writer Itamar Vieira Junior’s excerpt from the novel ‘Crooked Plow’, translated from the Portuguese by Johnny Lorenz, two young sisters raid their grandmother’s suitcase and discover a mysterious knife that renders them silent.
Issue 33 also includes poetry by Edward Doegar, Mary Mussman and Fahad Al-Amoudi, winner of The White Review Poet’s Prize 2022, in partnership with CHEERIO. Feminist scholar Sara Ahmed discusses what it means to be ‘willful’, and the flaws in the moral imper- ative to be happy, and artist Bani Abidi considers the performance of patriotism and darkly comic nationalisms. The cover art was made by Monira Al Qadiri, who, in an interview, discusses her grandfather, a singer on a Kuwaiti pearl-diving ship, and the histories of pearls and oil in the Gulf. In her film Diver (2018), stills from which feature on the cover, swimmers dance in black, iridescent water to the sound of an old pearl-diving song.