READ: George Saunders: “It was a beautiful, mysterious experience and I find myself craving it while, at the same time, flinching at the thousands of hours of work it will take to set such a machine in motion again.” / But, you know, I’m nicer on the drug called “writing.” | “… half-demented with what would seem to be the combination of power and powerlessness.” Rachel Cusk on the age of rudeness. | Curtis Sittenfeld’s The Prairie Wife.
LOOK: Georgia O’Keeffe’s shoes. | Cutest Ikea collection. | Nigella’s chocolate olive oil cake. | 30 a day. | Chicken with 40 cloves of garlic. | Good Ordinary Claret. | Maggi Hambling’s home. | The New Jock. | Sue: Peter says camellias aren’t his favourite tree. Peter: They’ve grown on me, mum. | Gardens planted by people fleeing Syria.
THINK: Fascinating profile of Theresa May: “Not only did Cameron beat her to it, he didn’t even notice she was putting herself forward.” / Mary Beard’s lecture on women in power (available as an LRB podcast). | “Most of us would not choose to be with people who regularly quizzed us or put us on the spot, even if it was just as a game. And yet how often do we do this to our children?” | “[Teens] tend to find parent restriction of social media actually more traumatic than whatever the event was.” | Why didn’t gay rights cure gay loneliness? | Supermute. (I have downloaded Twitterific for my phone so I could “muffle” Trump, Bannon, even President, and also Brexit, Corbyn and Farage. I can see when someone has tweeted about any of this and can choose, if I’m feeling strong, to tap on the tweet and see it.) | George W. Bush’s (undeniably competent) painted atonements.
READ: “I was concerned that if I took my eyes away from my real life, I might miss something important. I simply couldn’t afford to be absent. I had to be watchful. Reading fiction had become like sleeping – fraught with risk, unsafe.” | “As for your photograph I weep when I look at it.” The man Jackie Onassis didn’t marry. | “Anxiety is feminine, irritatingly so, less respectable and more annoying than anger, less pitiable than fear, more selfish than depression.” | “People shake off delusions according to their own schedules, but for me it was childbearing that rid me of the mostly subconscious idea that my life would be lived on some trajectory of self-improvement.” / “… old age struck me like a brick in a sock.” | “I write this with a baseball bat by the bed.” | How to murder your life. | “[A] joke can be another kind of Big Lie, shrunk to look like a toy. It’s the thrill of hyperbole, of treating the extreme as normal, the shock (and the joy) of seeing the normal get violated, fast.” How jokes won the election. / Sinking giggling into the sea. | Considering the novel in the age of Obama. | Currently reading: the Kenneth Clark biography and rereading Simplicity Parenting.
LOOK: The Museum Workout. | The best French pharmacy products. | Inside Heidi Swanson’s fridge. | Three ingredient mac and cheese. | Chalet School rolls (serve with sweet, milky coffee). | The Guardian’s best one-pot recipes: part 1 and part 2 | Scrag end, squash and barley broth. | Every home should have a house meal. | Rice with yoghurt. | How to make soup. / Six lentil soups! / Alice Waters’s cure-all soup.
THINK: To Obama with love, and hate, and desperation. | This is why you don’t kiss the ring. | “On the one hand, the pre-war mind refuses the possibility of catastrophe; on the other, the war mind perceives everything as the signal that the end of the world is nigh. I trust my fears while struggling to ignore them.” / “Are you taking your pilot’s family, too?” Doomsday prep for the super-rich. | The ethical and linguistic challenge of translating Trump. | “[B]odies in the street represent only potential power, not actual power. Even the largest rally must sooner or later disassemble and return home. What happens after that?” A Republican strategist. | How children catch our social biases. | Brilliant idea: A school lawyer.
READ: Carrie Fischer’s diary entries during her affair with Harrison Ford. | When can I say I’ll be alone forever? | “… I need to tell you: go now, right now, and tell your people that you love them.” | When Patti Smith messed up. | “Thinking about it dispassionately, and forgetting that we are friends, I cannot help feeling that the book doesn’t have much to say at all.” / “She sounded tired and bitter in the letter she wrote me rejecting my poem. How could someone as young as she must have been sound that old and unkind?” | Helen Garner’s savage self-scrutiny. | Alan Bennett’s 2016 diary. | The woman who might find us another earth. | “… in her Who’s Who entry, she listed “middle-distance staring” as one of her interests.” | Every time I got a new cellmate, I warned him, “Don’t be alarmed. I have a cardboard piano that I play.” | The Pope’s Penis: “It hangs deep in his robes, a delicate/ clapper at the center of a bell./ It moves when he moves, a ghostly fish in a/ halo of silver seaweed, the hair/ swaying in the dark and the heat — and at night/ while his eyes sleep, it stands up\ in praise of God.” By Sharon Olds.
LOOK: Talking Politics podcast. | Lentil soup with sausage, chard and garlic. | Amazing house in the far East of London. | Alice Waters’s Berkeley kitchen. | The feminist posters of See Red Women’s Workshop.
THINK: The NYT First Words column. | Raising kids who enjoy coming home. | How Russian cyberpower invaded the U.S. | “What Obama was able to offer white America is something very few African Americans could—trust. The vast majority of us are, necessarily, too crippled by our defenses to ever consider such a proposition.” | “It’s as though my mind is running simulations and can’t help but prefer the most dramatic option.” | “‘We were talking about the brown frilly bits on a fried egg, so he rang Nigella.’ (When I asked [Alan] Yentob about this, he shrugged as if this was what anyone would do.)” | Teenagers suing over climate change. | 2007. | While coming from a higher-class background helps men, it can actually hurt women. | “Optimism is a sense that everything’s going to be fine no matter what we do. Hope is something completely different. The kind of activist hope I believe in is that, although we don’t know what will happen, that uncertainty still means there’s grounds for intervening even without being sure of the outcome.” Rebecca Solnit | How to sleep.
READ: Leslie’s House of Nightmares. | “When my son leaves another boy, it’s as if that boy has ceased existing. But my daughter, like her friend, is tormented by what might be going on elsewhere, in another girl’s life. You can describe this as a kind of feminine problem, but looked at in another way isn’t it an extraordinary gift?” | How do you solve a problem like a family? | “You’ve gone through the agony of taking an idea that is perfect – it’s soaring, it comes from this other place – then you’ve had to summon it down and process it through your shit brain. It’s coming out of your shit hands and you’ve ruined it completely.” | Jeanette Winterson: my family Christmas. | “Be silent, recover my strength, start again.”
LOOK: First major Vanessa Bell retrospective. | The Female Eunuch is on Audible read by Germaine Greer. | Whole roasted cauliflower with almond-herb sauce. | Parmesan rind broth. | Cheesy mashed potatoes for the soul. | Frosty cavalo nero. | Something Curated: a much-better-than-usual guide to London’s art, culture and people. | What have we done? | “Shortly before commissioning the project the client was involved in a life threatening car accident, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down. As such, he requested a complex space, ‘because the house will define my world’.”
THINK: What people don’t understand about the white working class. (Remember when Obama was mocked for eating arugula?) | “Educated v less educated may be even more toxic than rich v poor, because it comes laden with assumptions of moral superiority. These days the rich find it quite hard to get away with the presumption that their wealth is proof of their virtue. When they seek protection from the system, it is pretty clear what they are up to: they are looking after their interests. But when the educated look out for themselves they can dress it up as something ostensibly better than that: expertise. To those on the receiving end, that stinks.” | “It is unconscionable, this know-better recrimination, directed at the very people who just put the most work and energy into defeating Trumpism, coming from those who will be made least vulnerable by Trump’s ascension.” | Is this how democracy ends? | “I don’t believe in apocalyptic—until the apocalypse comes. I think nothing is the end of the world until the end of the world.” | “Abraham Lincoln fought clinical depression all his life, and if he were alive today, his condition would be treated as a “character issue”—that is, as a political liability. His condition was indeed a character issue: it gave him the tools to save the nation.”