Contribute? I like essays — essays written in the classic, personal mode from Montaigne to Pauline Kael to David Foster Wallace; essays which make a fairly elaborate analysis with plenty of room for details and side-issues and tangents. I don’t mean that essays should merely conform to the Academic model of clearly defined terms and balanced arguments leading to a logical conclusion with predictable dryness. One the contrary, I’m looking for essays that take their time making a point, that measure the local fauna and customs and shades of grey and thereby cover much pleasant journey-time, that gain in persuasion that way.
Reading is after all a leisurely pursuit — a writer should flatter the reader with generous padding and aim for a style as comfortable as a favourite couch. Rich on details and leisurely precise observations, an easy-going chatty mode of address like a truly dialogic conversation held (without hurry) over cognac and cigars. The important thing is that a meaning/interpretation/point is being worked towards, but in no hurry to arrive. Slow is more.
Imagine Lawrence Sterne writing for Vanity Fair or Colors or The Idler. Imagine Jean-Luc Godard’s guerrilla-essay-poetics in limitless documentary. Imagine a group of jazz musos having a late-night session just for the love of playing. You tend to write better or more generously about a subject you know or respect when limits on time and space are absent or irrelevant. So give it the red-carpet prose treatment it deserves; write from what you know and love.
What can be reviewed? Books, films, music, tv series and episodes, actors, painters, politicians (especially has-been politicians), fine vintages, magazine articles or old reviews (even a single, cloying paragraph, as in: It took us a while, but we’re on to you, oh yes!), scenes in life and representation, old slippers, photographs, technologies or styles, arguments, appliances, streets, shirts, buildings, a very particular gin or horn section, the expressive ballet of Joan Fontaine’s eyebrows, any footage in black & white, dated slang/jargon/usage… anything worthy of slow and patient deliberation. For instance, I’m gonna write a piece about my 1940s typewriter. It’s high time the machine got a free plug.
Generally speaking, it’s about a tendency to rescue/revive/reveal stuff that can’t, won’t or wasn’t promoted first time round or which simply disappeared — with of course plenty of comic leeway. It’s whatever corresponds with the Slow Lifestyle; to develop a kudos aesthetic through items only the Slow Review would claim and celebrate with due consideration.
Anything from four hundred to four thousand words (although a thousand is where justice begins). On anything at least six months (or ideally, at least a year) old.