208. READ. LOOK. THINK.
... coziness to abjection, bad writing, barren ease and rich unrest, enchanting mouse architecture, feelings are perfectly safe!
Hello from Australia — I’m home for the first time in five years, and introducing my children to their birthright (Rainbow Paddlepops, Gaytimes, the Boy Charlton pool, Luna Park, Allen’s Raspberries, suncream smell, sandal tans). Please excuse typos in this RLT, my brain has completely shut down — I get my Wordle on the last try, if at all.
I was stunned at the truth and beauty of Eloise Grills’s illustrations of what it’s like to publish a deeply personal memoir.
‘I just wanted to grow up and write novels that would help other people accept how messed up everything is, and comfort them for it as much as these books have comforted me.’
‘My boyfriend, a writer, broke up with me because I’m a writer.’
‘There can be a coziness to abjection that is assumed to be communal.’
‘Bad writing’s not about what I don’t like to read or find hard to read. It’s about a tone where I sense the person is trying to be something other than what they actually are, or trying to feel something they don’t.’
‘Babies are a nuisance, of course. But so does everything seem to be that is worthwhile, husbands and books and committees and being loved and everything. We have to choose between barren ease and rich unrest.’
‘But the kids, but the money, but the fear of dying alone.’
‘I related equally to their classic austerity, and their neurotic excesses. The trick, it seemed to me, was to disguise the one with the other.’ John le Carré quoted in this great essay.
I realised four of the pieces I had saved over the past month or so were from the same place: Parapraxis. Here is my fave by Hannah Zeavin: Composite case: the fate of the children of psychoanalysis. ‘I wanted to be known completely or disappeared completely.’
I spent most of the year reading bootleg psychoanalysis PDFs, child development manuals, ebayed political diaries and histories of 2000s Britain. But my favourite novel this year was My Phantoms by Gwendoline Riley. I think about it all the time. My best reading experience was listening back-to-back Elif Batuman audiobooks and podcast episodes during the heatwave.
I love these stainless steel plates from Bourke Street Bakery so much and they are for sale in the UK for £4.85!
Alert! I searched on eBay for years for a copy of Need A House? Call Ms Mouse by George Mendoza (feat. ‘enchanting mouse architecture’). Now here in Australia I find it’s been reissued and is widely available?!
Evelyn Waugh’s massive house is for sale.
Perfect writing music from Australian composer Oren Ambarchi. ‘Shebang unfolds like a Music for 18 Musicians for the 21st century, each shift in tone and timbre an invitation to embrace the uncertainty and persistence of change,’ says Pitchfork on its 50 best albums of 2022 list.
Time to get a microwave?
Stephanie Madewell, who I have chased around a hundred platforms for years, and actually met once by coincidence at a concert at St Paul’s, has a Substack.
WEIGHTS. Muscles for 2023?
Bumper sticker: We’ve been having feelings for years! They’re perfectly safe!
When the only thing better than a flip phone is no phone at all.
How do I handle the death of my secret lover?
People who breathe polluted air experience changes within the brain regions that control emotions, and as a result, they may be more likely to develop anxiety and depression than those who breathe cleaner air.
Evidence grows that mental illness is more than dysfunction: 'These psychotic episodes are like fever: it’s not the thing that makes you sick, but the thing that stops you from getting sicker.'
It feels good to read this list of 2022’s scientific breakthroughs.
What do you wish people knew about you?
Have a lovely Christmas if you celebrate, and a lovely break if you’re getting one. Thank you to everyone who has read my book this year, since it came out in Feb, and especially thanks to those who DMed me about it — receiving them always made my day 💛