Very Quiet Foreign Girls, binge eating, the pain of revision, older Millennials owe younger ones an apology (and Lorrie Moore goes IN). Lastly: collapse is not the end.
|Jessica Stanley||Jul 23, 2020|| 1||1|
Keiko Kitamura and Terry Ellis's Brixton home in House and Garden.
A quick one today because I still have to pack the whole house up to move 800m down the road (so far I’ve mainly sat in frozen horror and thrown out a few children’s toys: “Mummy, where’s my broken Kinder Surprise car?”)
Profound and hopeful: Consider the Greenland shark.
The Very Quiet Foreign Girls poetry group made me google “train to be a teacher UK.”
The way I ate: binge eating explored in the New Yorker; such a moving final paragraph.
Patricia Lockwood's coronavirus diary.
"One time, he was behaving so badly that I shut the computer. I thought this was a punishment—tough but fair—but all it taught him was that you could make the whole thing go away. He started shutting the computer whenever he grew bored." I love Keith Gessen's parenting writing. On distance learning. On "discipline." And (in times we did not realise we would one day call “happier”) on finding his son a school.
“It is morally a novel, even though it’s very closely based on my real experience of those three terrible weeks in my life. By calling it a novel I’m saying: this is not a memoir, this is not nonfiction, this is a novel and there will be things in here that are invented, that didn’t really happen, and I’m going to take… every sort of liberty I need to take in order to turn it into the sort of book I want it to be.” Helen Garner quoted in this very good essay about her work and “fictionalised self.”
“If catastrophe (according to the theory of tragedy) is the dramatic event that initiates the resolution of the plot, then its absence suggests a possibility that the tragic plot will never be resolved. A catastrophe, in other words, might be a trap, but it also allows for a narrative escape. If you were lucky enough to have survived the catastrophic plot twist, you get to tell the story—you must tell the story.”
When dancers have to miss the last dance.
Surprise, surprise, once again a novel that everyone raved about has been proved amazing: spent this week in love with Crazy Rich Asians.
And three friends have brilliant books out now or imminently: pre-order Emily Gould’s Perfect Tunes (read-in-a-day and have 2-3 cathartic cries), Victoria Hannan’s Kokomo (come for the bravura opening and stay for poignance) and lastly, perfect-eyebrowed humourist Sophie Heawood’s single motherhood memoir Hungover Games. (Her interview about it on Emma Gannon’s podcast was great.)
Lots have people have said they’re finally able to read novels again after the pandemic blasted their brains and nervous systems. Here’s a list of some of my all-time reccs.
And speaking of beautiful lifestyles, I loved this caption:
“Your shame is self-protective, and has a reflexive superiority attached to it that keeps you safe from having to consider other people’s feelings and realities. That superiority likes to tell you that you’re tough and interesting and better than most people, but your shame tells you that you’re weak and terrible and far worse than most people at the same time. You’re battered by extremes every day, and you’re also incredibly moody, so you’re very afraid of your emotions and how they take over everything when you don’t feel secure. You handle all of that chaos by trying to punitively discipline yourself into being a better, calmer, more predictable person, but all your punishment does is exhaust you and make you even more ashamed of yourself and even more afraid of the future.”
“If the uncannily accurate descriptions of your personal villain imply that he or she is outside the empire of normal mental health, flickering eerily at the edge of pathology, why do these descriptions also (in moments you quietly bury deep inside you) remind you, sometimes, of an entirely different person—that is, you?” On narcissism.
Older millennials as "the grateful generation": "The 9-5 and Working Girl of our era was The Devil Wears Prada, which taught us that the best way to deal with a bad boss and a toxic workplace is to quit. But, if quitting wasn't an option — either because we cared too much about our careers or lacked the funds to just stop working — we were supposed to find ways to exist within the broken system, by heeding the unspoken rules, watching our own backs, and privately fixing things when they went wrong. Along the way, many of us did more than just survive a bad situation. We learned how to thrive within these environments, becoming devils ourselves. We, the Grateful Generation, owe you younger people in the room an apology." (And did you see Lorrie Moore on millennials? I felt exhilarated reading someone who didn’t care that Twitter was about to get very upset with them.)
“Black women in Britain reside outside the imagined boundaries of the nation even as we’re commanded to hold it together. Black women have spent a lifetime being made to go where the disease is.”
Collapse is the horizon of our generation. But collapse is not the end — it’s the beginning of our future.