xxxJ, needing a new persona to be able to write, pushing your husband off a boat, young Zadie Smith home vid, chips and a dip, intuitive eating, supporting England, communism of the day after.

Sidekicks II by Michele Poirier-Mozzone (2020).

Hi friends,

It’s a rainy Sunday, so hello from my house where we are all companionably on our screens just like the good old days (lockdown).

Janet Malcolm has died: "She began to do the dense, idiosyncratic writing she is now known for when she quit smoking in 1978: she couldn’t write without cigarettes, so she ­began reporting a long New Yorker fact piece on family therapy." / “Dear Alice, thanks for thinking of me, but I don’t think so. xxxJ”.

"The term ‘writer’s block’ hardly touches the sides. it’s a painful state, and it can continue for years. I’ve been stuck in it since December 1999. Many false dawns have announced themselves in the meantime. Despair is not too strong a word. But it occurs to me that what I’m doing in this state, perhaps, is waiting for the new persona to crystallise—the one that suits the story, the material, the particular area of darkness i want to go stumbling and fumbling into. I need to find a new ‘I’ that feels right." Helen Garner

"A novel is a literary work of art meant to expand consciousness. We need novels that live in an amoral universe, past the political agenda described on social media. We have imaginations for a reason."

"At that point, fearing she might push her husband off the boat, Sarah rowed the inflatable dinghy ashore and checked into a hotel." How to love and trust again after a big romantic betrayal. / Love "exists outside the framework of justice. There is no court at which to plead your case, no authority who can grant you recompense." Ghosted by her boyfriend of two years.

I was pinned to the spot by Natasha Brown's Assembly. (The boyfriend and his family were chilling). The Guardian review. Looking forward to Three Rooms by Jo Hamya. A sensitive and/or gifted narrator and/or artist casting a gimlet eye on their surroundings — my fave.

Fortunately I do not have enough followers on any platform to spark controversy but here’s a revelation that, in any event, will surprise no one: I LOVE Jonathan Franzen’s books. Crossroads is a pure and unadulterated hit of what I turn to him for: extremely shameful stuff compellingly described. There’s a bit where someone achieves a long-held goal of intimacy with another person and Franzen describes every flicker of what’s in the person’s mind — hard to say more without ruining it for others but it’s astonishing.

Australians have to get on board Becky Lucas’ memoir Acknowledgements. Somehow it’s quite deep philosophy and a psychotherapy sesh wrapped up in Clive James-style jokes? It’s for adults but if I had a bright teen I would give this to them and change their life.


"Retweeting picket signs/ Put my name on petitions, but I won't change my mind/ I'm keeping up appearances/ The dark side of my privilege". (Sorry to post music again, so offbrand.)

Geranium water linen spray (?!):

A post shared by @matildagoad

How to eat lilacs.

Deb Perelman from Smitten Kitchen has a YouTube!

Claire Ptak's perfect pavlova.

Charming house!!!

Can't wait to watch BBC Horizon special on making Covid vaccines and cry for 89 minutes.

The Fleabag one woman show and Benedict Cumberbatch’s Hamlet is one of many National Theatre shows now on Amazon Prime.

Are you grandiose or depressed? Either way you may enjoy Bo Burnham’s Inside on Netflix. I didn’t know what to expect when I clicked it so I won’t try to summarise it for you. When I press send on this newsletter I’ll be humming Daddy made you some con-tent

Have I shared this before? Margot and Fergus Henderson cooking a fish pie.

This dip:

A post shared by @esthermclark

Zadie Smith’s childhood Christmas:

A post shared by @docbreezy88


How to follow your gut: Ruby Tandoh on intuitive eating.

Just because your early career was hell doesn't mean others' has to be.

"Cancel culture, in many instances, if one bothers to look underneath the hood, is corporate damage-control culture."

"Like a lot of people, getting my head around trans rights [...] wasn’t necessarily instinctive [...] [S]ure, it’s important to somebody, it’s just not for me to think about. And as with most sins of obliviousness, it turned occasionally into unkindness."

Sarah Schulman’s project to demystify ACT UP. "The more its membership is understood as a group of plausible human beings, the more that it seems possible that what they built could be built again."

"We carried the scarlet letter of unpronounceable names. So in those initial years, I walked around campus feeling desolate not only socially and financially, but also linguistically." / "Interchangeable Asian".

"[Boris Johnson's] electoral genius lies in his ability to stop his opponents from thinking straight: In their hatred for him, they cannot see why he is popular."

"…this image of an irreconcilably divided nation is just that: an image. A spate of polls have shown that we are not as divided as many would have us think."

“I support England. England is by many objective measures a terrible country ruled by terrible people with a terrible past and a terrifying future, and I support England. None of my forebears were born in England, and I support England. When I watch the news or follow England games abroad or read about politics I often feel utterly disconnected from this country, and I support England. It was an Englishman who snarled at me on the street last month while I was taking my daughter to nursery: “Fuck off Chinaman, and take your Covid patient with you.” Nevertheless, I support England.”

The power and paranoia of the BBC’s Princess Diana interview.

“My communism is communism of the day after. How will you change life, ordinary daily life, when things return to normal? How will ordinary people feel the change? That’s my obsession: not the big revolutionary moments, but what happens the day after.” Žižek

I’m going to have a little break from posting on the internet for summer — not a massive one, I’m not made of stone! But just for a bit. Stay safe and read The Line of Beauty

xxx Jess