Years of service to reality. How does it feel to publish a book? Nancy Mitford's wank bank. Actually two mentions of wanking. Reverse Medusa. Star fish stuff.

Hello everyone,

I’ve had a lot new people sign up for these emails, which I love, please know that I am not making any great claims about them, they are just to collate things I saved to my Instapaper over the previous three weeks-to-a-month, and often I don’t even mention the books I’m reading because they’re too revealing and embarrassing, or I know I will forget to mention the book of an internet acquaintance and don’t want to mention any at all to be safe. Having said all that, please (Adam Buxton jingle voice) SHARE AND SUBSCRIBE!


“I say something and it’s considered to be ‘a confession’. I’m not confessing that I had cancer, I’m not confessing that I’ve got a urostomy bag. I have had cancer and I have a urostomy bag. It’s a statement.” Tracey Emin

"Not because I was famous or anything, but because I was a human being, I had a right to put my hand up and say what I felt." Sinead O'Connor

"It occurred to me, Why not take that blissful, conflict-free thing, turn it into a cerebral project, and ruin it for yourself? So that’s what I did." I loved the new Alison Bechdel.

How does it feel to publish a book?

[Almodovar] points me toward the moment in the film when [Tilda] Swinton’s character confesses that she can never be funny in her lover’s presence. She can be “special, daring, submissive, thin, passionate”, she admits, but she loses her sense of humour when she is crazy about someone. “That has happened to me,” Almodóvar says. “Isn’t that awful?”

"Hadn’t I just felt the clear beauty of the bodies shown to me? Their beauty was a reverse Medusa: I gazed at them and they freed me from stone."

In the Bookworm interview about Second Place, which I loved, Michael Silverblatt says "Rachel, I've never read a book like this. How did you do it?" Cusk: Years of service to reality. Relentless ordinary experience."

“The great dream of my life is to succeed in collaboration with my sister, harmonize with her, shine with her, but the reality is that we almost never manage this. Instead I am often stupefied by her eloquence, disturbed by her peace, extinguished by her light. She seems to cancel me. When she gains weight or gets a pimple on her face or fails at something, I rejoice inwardly for a millisecond before I recover myself and quash this hideous joy with shame.” On twinship and envy.

"The ‘white imagination’ imagines itself as limitless – boundless, colourless, neutral and universal..."

"I’ve spent my whole life watching people’s eyes glaze over when I start talking. Eventually, I just stopped talking. But then I wrote a novel, and suddenly everyone wants to know what parts of the novel are real, as in from my life, as in literal transcriptions from the record of my living."

Summary time: "we skim over the physical world, don’t spend too much page space on granular detail, aren’t ever grounded so deeply in scene and Balzacian description that we need a pushy narrator or a chapter break, instead of a space break, to move into another room (or another country, or another year). This gives the books their “silky,” frictionless quality that also mimics the way we tell stories of the distant past to one another: they take place in an unmarked, imperfect tense."

That bad people make good art is a cause for hope. Hope "resides in a gesture of kindness from one broken individual to another or, indeed, we can find it in a work of art that comes from the hand of a wrongdoer. These expressions of transcendence, of betterment, remind us that there is good in most things, rarely only evil. Once we awaken to this fact, we begin to see goodness everywhere, and this can go some way in setting right the current narrative that humans are shit and the world is fucked." Nick Cave.


Let's buy a Celia Paul.

A post shared by @ellypear

Are you aware that Meera Sodha has made a BRASSICA BLEND of spices to add to greens??? (Am I aware? Sometimes I worry I put the same stuff in this newsletter every two years.)

"If masturbating at the thought of Lady Jane Grey verges on the odd, what are we to make of Nancy Mitford’s real perversities, such as her desire to live in Paris?" (Meanwhile, the BBC Pursuit of Love has charmed me even though every second thing is wrong with it.)


“The poignancy of these videos overwhelms me. These teenagers are trying to imagine and perform a future by grabbing at an inaccessible past. The touchstones upon which they rely are hardly universal, but they loom so large in the culture that they stand in for lived experience. They are images that have been laundered through movies and advertising and books into a tacit promise: This is what summer ought to be like.” #summer2021 (Devastating long piece about how terrible the pandemic has been for American teens.)

“The referendum then, should not be treated as the final word, she said, but as a straw vote. “Sure, say we want to leave, but you can only in the end say we are going to leave when we know what it means. Otherwise,” she said, “it’s just wanking in the dark.” Thinking I had misheard, I asked her to repeat. “Wanking in the dark,” repeated [Mary] Beard, at volume.” (Beard's retirement present to students.)

“Basically, the later you open your presents on Christmas Day, the more middle class you are.”

"If anything, feminism’s longevity compounds the problem: the dial hasn’t shifted, but we want to move on."

“Labor has backed in behind the slogan “On your side”, but Albanese’s visible wear and tear raises the latent question about what someone who appears to have so many kilometres on the tyres could actually deliver.” Labor's prospects at the next Australian election look absolutely dire.

Apparently there is still a pathway to net zero by 2050. I was briefly cheered by this.

Jess xx