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?!
READ: The Republic of Motherhood. | The princess myth: Hilary Mantel on Diana. | “Ah, the clock. Let me tell you about my clock.” / I need more time. | Chelsea Manning’s style. | “When I came back with the notebooks, she sighed. She knew she was too weak to use them. She looked at me and asked, Do you think they’ll make a film about me?”
LOOK: “If you feel something, say something.” | Long-cooked vegetables. | Chicken fattee.
THINK: There’s no such thing as western civilisation. | Why we fell for clean eating. | “Did we feminists set ourselves up for this false equivalence, by talking among ourselves about who should sit down and the taste of male tears, at the expense of addressing the substance of anti-feminist arguments?” | “Even with other managers, I often got ignored or interrupted. At one point, John had a suggestion for how I could get more airtime. He wanted me to go to school — to learn to be a stand-up comic.” | How to write a star study | and an op ed | and about Nazis / (Nazisploitation.) | “We Brits are particularly susceptible to the double life, aren’t we? Is it because we are a sort of theatrical, and sort of unfaithful, culture?” John le Carré and Ben Macintyre in conversation. | “We wish for more complexity and logic in our politics, so we look to make political art that is logical and complex: a genre defined by John Le Carré.” | “Once your children know that even one person detests their bones and breath, they know.” | “A friend of mine repeatedly told her 5-year-old son, “Remember, everybody’s equal.” She thought she was getting the message across. Finally, after seven months of this, her boy asked, Mommy, what’s ‘equal’ mean?'” | Is there any point to protesting? | “The single essential survival skill for anybody interested in creating art is to learn to defend this inner life from the world.” | I have a guilty secret.
READ: I have never highlighted an Instapaper save more than this profile of Rachel Cusk. Eg: “Wanting people to like you corrupts your writing.” | “About two months before our first baby died, I announced to the internet I was pregnant with her…” | Wonderful profile of London’s mayor Sadiq Khan. | Growing up behind the scenes at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. | I am half way through Conversations with Friends. In an interview on Literary Friction, Sally Rooney says she was surprised how many people were interested in her, rather than the book. Reading about her university debating career has made me one of those people. (I also thought this episode of Literary Friction about race was very good.)
LOOK: A special object. | Nigel Slater will publish a book of autumn and winter food and ritual. | How to make a layer cake that won’t collapse. | Coconut lentil dhal / more dhal. (As I post this, I realise I left the cumin seeds out of the vat sitting on my stove.) | SALT, FAT, ACID, HEAT. | Don’t forget Top of the Lake Season II is out.
THINK: Not my usual type of recommendation but I liked this man’s approach to money. Probably just as relevant to non-Australians. | How climate scepticism turned into something more dangerous. Also available as a podcast on the Guardian’s Audio Long Read feed. | Twitter is definitely making you more anxious. I have deleted it from my phone and it’s made such a difference.