In today’s New York Times London Journal, writer Sarah Lyall sneaks a peak at the curious subculture of London Review of Books personal ads, which feature incredibly self-effacing come-ons from book lovers looking for romance.
Lyall says readers who place the ads “described themselves over the years as shallow, flatulent, obsessive, incontinent, hypertensive, hostile, older than 100, paranoid, pasty, plaid-festooned, sinister-looking, advantage-taking, amphetamine-fueled, and as residents of mental institutions… They have announced that they are suffering from liver disease, from drug addiction, from asthma, from compulsive gambling, from unclassified skin complaints and from reduced sperm counts.” And that’s just Christopher Hitchens. (We kid! Everyone knows Hitch is happily hitched.)
One such ad reads:
Sinister-looking man with a face that only a mother would love: think of an ageing Portillo with a beard and you have my better-looking twin. Sweetie at heart, though. Nice conversation, great for dimly-lit romantic meals. Better in those Welsh villages where the electricity supply can’t be guaranteed. Charitable women to 50 appreciated.
That ad and many others have now been bound for posterity in They Call Me Naughty Lola: Personal Ads from the London Review of Books, compiled by Review advertising director David Rose. (Sadly, the book came out too soon to include this current ad: “I wrote this ad to prove I’m not gay. Man, 29. Not gay. Absolutely not.”)
Thirtyish academic wishes to meet woman who’s interested in Mozart, James Joyce, and sodomy.