198. READ. LOOK. THINK.
Pity me, Cusk on parents' photography, am I real, readinglength.com, cake inspo, Australian election, dissociative feminism, a literal CTA 'call to action' at the end.
I will be copying this cake for V’s 7th birthday.
I had no intention of doing a RLT today but I found out this piece by Hannah Zeavin has been unlocked on N+1 and it's just so good, I read it breathless. It's about how a paper on parasitic whiteness (by her step-father, a psychoanalyst) went viral in a bad way. Also:
'Generally speaking, the parent’s attempt to express what they see and feel in looking at their child, to universalize those feelings, does not succeed.' Rachel Cusk on parents photographing their children.
'Substituting the generic sentiment of feeling bad about life under capitalism in place of specific insight about the human condition is a cheap trick.' The "pity me" personal essay.
'On the acknowledgments page, I thank my dad, for sending me this novel-writing kit. I’m very sincere—thank you. That antagonism is inextricable from how or why I write.'
'I wasn’t punching down, but punching across, trying to prove that we weren’t alone on an island but that we had two distinct problems. Her exclusion was inevitable, while mine was a horrific oversight.' New Lena Dunham essay (incredible to think I was doing READ.LOOK.THINK. when the first wave of Girls comment pieces came out ten years ago, swirly eye emoji).
'“Am I real?” I texted my husband once. He called me back immediately.'
'Writing fiction is to me like a symphony – you’re hearing it in your head. You’re in it; you’re a vehicle. You are, as Bernhard would have it in The Loser, the piano. You’re not analyzing it. You’re trying to transmit an experience, as richly and with as much honest complexity as you possibly can.' Claire Messud
'The Uber driver, a Black man, turned and asked me, “Is that your mom?” I laughed and said no, but admitted that we do sort of look alike, so I could see why he asked. It wasn’t just that, he said: As soon as he pulled up, she was watching him closely, as if she were wondering if she could trust him enough to keep me safe.' I loved this profile of Viola Davis.
Still pathetically spending ages at a time entering books I like into this calculator to see how long they are/wondering how anyone writes books readinglength.com.
Painfully beautiful book-lined flat.
Donna Tartt's menswear-inspired style, a primer on The Cut.
"Kaia Gerber is used to being gifted everything under the sun ... The one thing nobody is sending her is the new Elif Batuman galley." The mysterious celebrity book stylist.
Make sure you pre-order Ana Kinsella's Look Here to help you see the world, and clothes, afresh.
The election is on in Australia. Scott Morrison ("ScoMo") the conservative Prime Minister let Australians suffer without assistance in two vast natural catastrophes turbo-charged by climate change (fires and floods). He prolonged the acute phase of Australia's Covid lockdowns and restrictions for months by not bothering to organise a vaccine roll out. He's an angry guy without much empathy for others. Polls were showing it was perhaps over for that ho. However, after a week or so of the election campaign, things are looking very tight. Reasonably bless Labor opposition leader Anthony Albanese ("Albo") is acting all nervous, as you would be — the stakes are so high. This will be the last Australian election within the ever-narrowing window for taking action on climate change to keep global heating below disastrous levels.
Mia Freedman's No Filter podcast episode with Anthony Albanese where he talks with uncommon (for a politician/man?) emotional literacy about finding his bio dad.
Lech Blaine's really moving (funny and honest) essay about his mum who suffered terribly from Australia's lack of aged care safety net.
I love Georgia Perry's vivid design, here is her BOLD CLIMATE ACTION NOW graphic in various formats to share.
'The thing about trauma is that it can reignite earlier, individual trauma. That experience of coming out of the climate bubble and having your worries dismissed, of realising that you have been abandoned by people who were supposed to look after you, can be particularly triggering.'
Video has 'become a friend' to Gen Z.
How to unionise at Amazon.
Civil unrest due to rising energy bills ‘isn’t far away’.
A Great Hope was Fiction Pick of the Week in the Sydney Morning Herald/The Age:
Stanley immerses the reader in the turbulent world of backroom politics, but it’s the acutely observed intersection between the political and the personal that raises the dramatic stakes. A Great Hope is melodrama set within deeper social currents, in the same vein as Christos Tsiolkas’ The Slap. It’s a taut examination of a well-off family under great pressure, with the mystery unspooling neatly through complexity of character.
And while I was on my hastily-arranged Easter package holiday (listening to my children talk animatedly in their sleep through the tissue thin walls of our interconnecting rooms) my phone lit up with people telling me ANNABEL CRABB (their caps) had talked about A Great Hope on Chat 10 Looks 3. And here is the relevant clip if you care! I certainly did! ❤️ you Chat 10!
You should buy my book for your mum this Mothers’ Day in Australia (May 8).