Helen Garner's scary edits, internet novels, toilet dignity, diet culture, Zaddy Fascism, a dream garden in Brixton, a lovely chatty pod.

There is some fiction in your truth and some truth in your fiction by @a.subtle.space.

Hello friends,

I’m watching Married at First Sight Australia Season 6 on Channel Four these days, gruesome and poignant, have you watched? I so badly want to Google the discourse when “Mike” said “I’m not ya therapist” to “Heidi,” but I’m afraid of “spoilers.” I hope there was some outrage at his controlling behaviour. How low I have sunk after the highs of Call My Agent. I wish there were ten more seasons of BBC Spooks.


“My role, in its way, feels to me, similar to a therapist, a mother, or to be honest, a sort of soft sexless boyfriend—someone who can be relied upon to countenance your moods, while not asserting my own. I resent this role and I would like it to change...” (Imagine having Women's Prize-nominated Torrey Peters as your trans mother.) / "Why should trans authors have to write characters who lie about their desires, when the whole point of fiction is to have the ability for your characters to say the hard truths?"

“… the assumption people make, based on the fact that they maintain an active fantasy life, that others don’t experience the world as intensely as they do. Growing up, we have unremitting access to our own thoughts and limited access to everyone else’s, and we can come to believe that only we were enthralled and transported by the mystery of existence. But, of course, every kid is an archer, a spy, a merperson, in her own padlocked brain. This is girlhood—childhood—by its very nature.” / "Despite warnings of overt sexual molestation, we are mostly socialized not to reject the hands of others."

"It is a paradox of human subjectivity that knowing you are capable of violence – recognising it as your problem, instead of blithely assigning it to someone else (of another race, class, nation or sex) – reduces the chances of making it happen. The idea of crushing violence – stamping it out or eradicating it from the Earth – simply increases the quotient of violence we have to face."

"Elizabeth Loftus was in Argentina, giving talks about the malleability of memory, in October, 2018, when she learned that Harvey Weinstein, who had recently been indicted for rape and sexual assault, wanted to speak with her..." (Hard to summarise this intensely gripping profile.)

"As a child, [Edward] St Aubyn dreamed of being the prime minister, “now rather a discredited ambition”, because he wanted to make speeches that would change the world. “I suppose that has an obvious psychological origin, in that I so much wanted to persuade everyone around me to behave radically differently.”

Brandon Taylor on internet novels. | Black authors are not white people's medicine. | How do writers without access to books develop a craft?

I’ve been reading so much, lots of it embarrassing and personal as usual — but here are some unembarrassing things I loved in case you’re considering them: Night Games by Anna Krien, A Lonely Man by Chris Powers, In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado, Fun Home by Alison Bechdel.

I also revisited two Helen Garners and I have a new reading order to suggest for those who want to get into her! First: The Spare Room and The Children’s Bach (two novels). Then The First Stone (brilliant, controversial) and This House of Grief (devastating). Then you can just freestyle, do the diaries etc!

BTW, in Australia, Lech Blaine has just published a super buzzed-about memoir. “A few months ago, Helen [Garner] got sent the manuscript at the point that I thought it was done and dusted. She disabused me of this confidence with some blunt critical feedback...’” Swipe through on his IG post to see HG’s terrifying comments on his ms:

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A very gentle thirty minute yoga practice.

Two recipes I think I copied from Just to Delight: 1. Yoghurt rice. 2. Homemade breakfast sausage patties:

Why do recipe writers lie about how long it takes to caramelise onions?

What does love look like in a time of hate?

Black and Gay Back in the Day: @blackandgaybackintheday.

“Environmental authorities advise against swimming in the River Lea,” this piece sinisterly ends (but the photographs are so beautiful).

A dream garden in Brixton. / Incredible plant house @stephwilsonspace!

I can't remember if I put this in last time but I've been enjoying Sentimental in the City so very much. Dolly Alderton and Caroline O'Donoghue go through each season of SATC (with some beautifully emotional and personal insights along the way).


Boris Johnson cheated with lover Jennifer Arcuri in family home while his wife was away. Bit random to include — but it does make you think!

The new midlife crisis for women.

Female couriers denied toilet dignity.

God the 2000s were such a mess, a terrible time to be a young woman!

“I don’t always understand everything you write,” Woebot says, “but sometimes the act of sharing is just as good.” / "Consider boundaries. (Seriously, always do this.)"

Spent a while reading this entire Substack about diet culture. It's so good: Burnt Toast by Virginia Sole-Smith. Here she is in the NYT on secret solitary food rituals (like my daily bowl of crisps and gin and tonic at 4.30pm).

Zaddy Fascism:

On middlebrow: “Having lost the economic battle to economic and political elites, we celebrate, again and again, our victory over the mostly-imaginary cultural elite that would scorn us for watching 90 Day Fiancé. What you can’t accomplish in life, you repeatedly do in symbolism, until it becomes a neurosis.”

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Tax the rich!

Jess x

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