John Lanchester: “Flaubert was sceptical about trains because he thought (in Julian Barnes’s paraphrase) that ‘the railway would merely permit more people to move about, meet and be stupid.’ You don’t have to be as misanthropic as Flaubert to wonder if something similar isn’t true about connecting people on Facebook.”

Henry Alford: “If one of the defining cultural tropes of the 1950s and ’60s was kitchen-sink realism, many writers today go more for yoga-mat realism. I refer to narratives anxious to detail how ‘authentic connection’ can ‘feed us.’ […] I’m entirely the wrong audience for these books: I’m a childless, lapsed Protestant agnostic who is made hugely uncomfortable by the use of the word ‘nourish’ in a nonfood context.”

Re the infamous Google memo and social justice in general: To object to a means of achieving x is not to be anti-x.


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