186. READ.LOOK.THINK.

Rooneymania, literary Jonathans, whole milk, political countertransference, Claudia Karvan climbing into bed with us... um, toad racing?

Dear friends,

Lots of Rooney discourse!! (I'm going to see her talk at Southbank next week, are any of you?)

"It’s not my job to populate my books with particular types of characters that I imagine other people might find relatable. It’s my job to write about whatever comes into my head, to the best of my ability. If as a reader you want to exercise control over the kinds of things that are depicted in novels, try writing one."

“...your name becomes a kind of floating signifier that people can attach to things that have nothing to do with you,” she said. “And you’re like, wait, no, I want that back! That’s mine! I have to use that to get an appointment with the doctor and stuff!”

The Vogue profile.

"I felt the excitement of watching a serious artist try out a new tool." An interesting review. (My tiny review on IG.)

If you saw a pro-Rooney subweet it was probably prompted by this: Surely there are better literary heroes for our generation than Sally Rooney?


READ.

Great profile of Jesse Armstrong, creator of Succession. "Armstrong told me that his ability to empathize with the Roys’ flaws is likely connected to his having reached an age at which “you’re more aware of the tragic things that can happen to yourself, and other people.” He went on, “So-called dark or serious things can still be funny, but, as you get older, more terrible things happen to more people you know. The things you laughed at as a young person—you’d better be careful, because they could happen to you tomorrow."

The literary Jonathans. George Smiley's marriage.

"The mimicry wasn’t always perfect — an assistant at the talent agency WME realized her boss was being impersonated because she would never say “please” or “thank you” — but the impression was good enough." A book thief is at work..!

"...over time, one realizes that these questions usually aren’t information-seeking per se, but reassurance-seeking. Almost all of them vary on a few basic themes: “is everything okay,” “am I good,” “am I loved,” or “am I safe.” These are the questions of children—inner children. Our authors are asking them because they are freaked out by an industry that offers very little structure or certainty. In response, they are seeking care and security. None of this is weird." I have actually paid for this the email newsletter by the literary agent Anna Sproul-Latimer it's so good (as is the long-standing blog of my agent, Lizzy Kremer)

"I found out after my husband died that he had an affair. What can I do to survive?" Please write a memoir, would be my reply. The intensity that radiates from this questioner!

When you feel old, washed up, and start to resent more successful friends.

A short story that somehow covers an entire relationship in just a few thousand words with basically a 1:1 sentence to insight ratio (everyone who's published a short story in the past five years will click this wondering if it's theirs, spoiler alert it's Lisa Owens')


LOOK.

How to make the perfect laminations. (The intro: "Lamingtons are one of those things, like Tim Tams and toad racing, that are big in Australia but, despite the best efforts of the residents of Ramsay Street, almost unknown elsewhere." Okay - so sorry that Australians exist and have subjectivity, I know it's almost IMPOSSIBLE to believe that there's a whole NATION of Australians who are as real as English or American people with lives, backgrounds, concerns and preferences of their own! This is not directed at Felicity Cloake, whose work admire, just using this opportunity to make public my constant private rant.)

Yep it's time to soothe my wounded national pride with my boys.

And passionfruit pavlova.

Whole milk is back.

One my daughter’s friends brought these hair chalks round to play with and they were fun, look great, and easily wash out.

We're still rewatching Secret Life of Us (we just got up to Murray Bartlett from White Lotus guesting!) "Claudia Karvan doesn’t climb in and hold us as we grieve the end of a relationship, we lie in bed alone." 💔 The Secret Life of Us and the impossible fantasy of your twenties.


THINK.

Rise of the normcore boyfriend/mixed-clout rels.

"Yes, it's possible to turn pain into art. But "posting" isn't really art." Should you be posting your L's online?

So moved by this deep dive into the rural Australian town which woke up to find their neighbours deported and are still fighting to get them back.

Interesting thread on a Reddit community for mental health practitioners: "Does anyone else experience countertransference towards clients across political divides (especially in our current political climate)? How do you work with this, and how do you work to see the client clearly?"

"I know, people say that ‘oh, we must be uncomfortable. . . .’ Why should I pay [the National Trust] a hundred quid a year, or whatever, to be told what a shit I am?"

The black artists leaving America.

The cultural significance of ashiness.

"Contrary to many assertions, brown and Black authors don’t enjoy flagging up racist language. We’d rather be writing academic papers, researching books, watching Love Island or playing hide and seek with our kids."

Why brands are fine with podcast hosts making fun of their ad copy.

I hope you like this edition of “completely random stuff thrown together with lots of typos”, at least I will never charge you for it

Jess xx