READ: I read this and thought “brilliant and true Art,” immediately saved for READ.LOOK.THINK. I only found out later about the think piece explosion: “Cat Person.” | The Vanity Fair Diaries by Tina Brown (a preview). | My Tina Brown-fest led me to finally read the BEST BOOK OF ALL TIME: her Princess Diana bio. | “Fortunately, you suffer neither from impotence nor alcoholism. That is in your favor.” | Raising a teenage daughter* (the annotations are special). | Is there a way of being selfish without hurting anyone? | “Sure, I’m attuned to my children and thoughtful with my friends; I keep a cozy house, listen to my husband, and am reasonably kind to my parents. In everyday deed and thought, I’m a decent-enough human. But I’m something else as well, something vaguely resembling a, well, monster.” | You must read Meaghan O’Connell’s furiously ambivalent and super dry memoir of pregnancy, birth and the early months of motherhood when it comes out early next year (pre-order UK | US). I wonder if she will get h8 for being so honest? But it is a service to women to be so open, and the writing is so dark and so good.
LOOK: Where should we begin? Esther Perel’s podcast series featuring therapy with real couples. | The fascist haircut. | Native Australian pot plants. | Instant Pot starter guide (including minestrone soup). | Bay leaf toffees. | Zero waste vegetable stock. | Immunity soup (white pepper broth). | Ottolentils. | Beetroot and ginger curry. | “… tofu that’s sliced and marinated with liquid amino or tamari, then cooked in coconut oil so it gets feathery and crisp on the outside and custardy on the inside, then Calabrian chilli oil on top…” | Too embarrassed to write the name of this parenting podcast, but the episodes I have listened to are good. | Australian Birth Stories podcast. | How to be a modern parent. | Queer Bible. | FREE PERIODS. | HELP REFUGEES.
THINK: The end of the social era can’t come soon enough. | “Does this one pain matter, in a world of pain? Whose pain is this, anyway? And how can I bear to witness it alone?” | “What is never properly understood by those who do not experience it is how deep the rage over inequality goes once it is made conscious, how far-reaching it can be and yes, how unforgiving.” | “What freedoms might one have to surrender in order for others to be free?” | “That means that when they fall, we feel for them, even as we recoil from them, because their power has allowed them to be made known to us, admired by us.” | “We can’t go back in time and have the story of Hillary Clinton written by people who have not been accused of pressing their erections into the shoulders of young women who worked for them.” | “When she returned to work after her first maternity leave, one of her colleagues reported her to the serjeant-at-arms for taking the baby through the division lobby under her coat. She had to explain to the official that, in fact, ‘I was still fat from being pregnant.‘”
READ: “Something happened to me on the way to the hospital: my mind split in two.” | “It frightens me a little, to think of all that followed from that choice.” | “you know when you write about food so people think you are really confident around it but buying food in a market or even at a butcher or fishmonger can be this big terrifying encounter where you feel you will definitely get found out…” | Greta Gerwig’s radical confidence. | “… Drabble’s novels make me suspect that the “American” quality I’ve blamed for my sense of isolation on this damp island is, in fact, a distraction from a more common experience of women my age, in any age: there’s a fighting urge to disturb the mold of one’s life, as it sets.” / “You should never”, she said, “compliment an author on a very early book.” | I’m rereading my way through the books Alan Hollinghurst said, at a talk I went to a few weeks ago, shaped him. It was so exciting that they were ALL ON MY SHELF. No wonder I love him so much: Virginia Woolf’s diaries, Put Out More Flags by Evelyn Waugh, What Maudie Knew, Offshore by Penelope Fitzgerald — I think I am forgetting some — and David Szalay’s All That Man Is, which I haven’t read but will.
LOOK: 44-clove garlic soup / I read the Tartine cookbook in a cafe and this winter I will make black garlic. | Kitchen life at @cocoinmykitchen. | Chana masala. | “If there is even a whiff of professional chef on the plate, your dinner party is off to a lousy start and won’t recuperate.” | Audm has audio versions of long stories from The Atlantic, the LRB etc. (It is quite expensive but maybe if you had a lot of housework lined up for a weekend you could get the three day trial.)
THINK: “Do not lay your hands on a woman who has said no, or pulled away, or even half-formed an excuse in her beautiful mouth. Did she mumble? Are you frightening her? Is she drunk? Are you drunk? You must ask yourself these questions. Every time. Do not cause harm. Don’t touch us without consent. Don’t sexualise us without consent. Don’t interrupt us. Don’t shout at us. Don’t manipulate us. Don’t demand things you don’t deserve. Don’t prey on women who are sad, or who have low self-esteem, or who are financially beholden to you. Behave better. We can see you.” | How to deal with sexual harassment while it’s happening. | What we lost in the Grenfell Tower fire. | I’m experimenting with how I use my phone, the internet and my time. It’s a constant fine tuning! I’ve done the “little clock by the bed so my phone’s downstairs overnight” thing. I got my most morally upright and disciplined friend to change the password on my Twitter account so I can’t read or post to my timeline. I love the people I follow so much, yet every day a new anxiety bomb would detonate and set my heart racing. I’ll be back at some point obviously, but I chose Sophie as my password custodian because I don’t want to disappoint her. (Instagram can stay. I mainly get upset by world events; someone having a better day than I am does not hurt me.) “I either lived as a voice online or I lived as a human being in the world that humans had lived in since the beginning of time.“
READ: “It painted me into a corner, yes, but in doing so it freed me to write.” | Being disgusting is the bread and butter of having sex. | “You know, caricaturish people, horrible dialogue, stupid and obvious moves, blundering historical context,” Egan said, when I asked her what about her manuscript had so revolted her. Her voice grew hard with disgust as she catalogued her failures… | “Poetry happens to people in great bikinis just as often as it happens to people in wire-framed glasses with unbrushed hair; poetry is for people smiling on beaches as much as for people gritting their teeth in silent libraries.” | “He makes the soup; she makes the bread.” (Philip Pullman’s marriage.) | Grief. | Obviously I loved The Sparsholt Affair so much I felt actual loneliness and depression, even grief, when it was over.
LOOK: The Tip Off podcast. | Niche! But are you, like me, an Eddie lover?! | Craving the boring and wholesome. | Gastro Del Solo. | The brief was both ambiguous (“the pottery finishes of Lucie Rie, a ball of string”) and exacting…
THINK: How to prepare for postpartum depression. (Hope for the best but expect the worst. Stop reading Ina May and start reading Meaghan instead!) | “… a powerful man sees you, a woman who is young and who thinks she might be talented, a person who conveniently exists in a female body, and he understands that he can tie your potential to your female body, and threaten the latter, and you will never be quite as sure of the former again.” | “Younger, less experienced employees are looking to you to define what their role is, how they should be, whether and how they matter. When you teach them that the way they matter is in how attractive they are to you and the ways they can bolster your sense of power, you don’t only abuse your position professionally and personally, you also alter their sense of self.” | “As a father of daughters…” | “I think, maybe, I could deal with dying if the person I love is creaking along at the same rate I am.” | “… the very words “debt” and “deficit” have been weaponized for political ends. They serve as body armor to politicians who would deny resources to struggling communities or demand cuts to popular programs.” | Being organised is a gift I give myself and other people.
READ: “As she attempted to turn the lock, her hand was suddenly covered by Ms. Gause’s. Ms. Brown turned to find Ms. Gause gazing at her.” | The Story I Can’t Write about my Family. | Kylie wears Balmain. | “Who are you? Who am I? What will the biographer make of this? Who might I be?” | “But whatever “bad” edge your writing brushes up against, I think it’s important to touch it. You can always pull back from it, but at least you know where it is.” | “The argument about excellence – that women’s work just isn’t good enough – is incredibly hurtful given that there is so much mediocre work by men around.” | Opening night at Chez Panisse. | I combed my hair out with a nit comb straight after reading this. (But did not find any?)
LOOK: I got a rush of dopamine viewing these tidy, well-stocked refrigerators that I don’t think the internet has given me since 2014. | Food 5/10 Atmosphere 10/10. |
THINK: If someone wears fragrance around me I have instant respiratory problems and, later, a migraine. To me, fragrance is the new smoking! So I love Kate Grenville for this: The Case against Fragrance. | Nightmare on the maternity ward. | “At first, nothing happened. Then there was a crackle of static, followed by a voice on the other end. ‘That’s a strike,’ it said.” The parents who pay to be watched. | Are awards for young writers discriminatory? | Social shaming is an ‘ego defence’ which enables one to feel better about themselves by locating ‘badness’ elsewhere. | “The choices that I have are obscene. Six-dollar bread is obscene:” how economic inequality is hidden, justified and maintained. | Neoliberalism: the idea that swallowed the world. (Also available on the Guardian Long Read podcast.) / The most arrogant people in Australia are business people and we’re sick of them.
HILLARY STUFF: Of course I’m reading What Happened, “a post-mortem in which [Hillary] is both coroner and corpse.” It’s terribly painful to imagine an alternate reality where she is the leader of the free world. / Trigger warning: the New Yorker cover planned for Clinton’s election win. / HRC: “You should be able to work hard and succeed — not because you’re perfect, but because you’re good enough. We should be proud of that. Instead, we get constant messaging our whole lives: You’re not thin enough, talented enough, smart enough. Your voice isn’t what we want to hear. This has to be called out for what it is: a cultural, political, economic game that’s being played to keep women in their place.” / I feel murderous when people criticise Hillary Clinton, just murderous. But here is a thoughtful counterpoint focusing on Hillary as a wonk. | If you don’t have time for the book, two great podcast interviews with her: Longform | New Yorker podcast. In them, better than in the book — which, although candid, has obviously passed through many people’s hands — you can tell she is a lover of fiction. The way she tells David Remnick about her meetings with Putin especially, her precise word choice… so vivid and literary. PS. She mentions in the book that she is now a penpal with a crime fiction author. Do we know who yet?!