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?!
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.