Wiltshire is damn nice. (at Whatley Manor)
“Perhaps we are too ready to draw on the balms of the past rather then seriously address the dilemmas of the future.”
“When asked how he achieved this effect, Maxwell likened the reality of what he wanted to express to ‘polished stones underneath the streams you can see from the surface. You don’t necessarily have to pick them up, but you can see some hard substance underneath the flowing water of the words.’”
I’ve never really managed to come up with a proper explanation for what it is that I love about a certain type of American fiction, apart from “IT MAKES ME HAVE FEELINGS”, but it might be something similar (though less eloquent) to this. The description immediately (predictably) makes me think of Raymond Carver, and - to varying degrees - others from my list of favourites: Steinbeck, Richard Yates, John Cheever, Sylvia Plath, and more recently Annie Proulx and Lorrie Moore. What the writer says about landscape also goes some way to putting these feelings into words.
Partly as a result of my life-long love of American literature, lately I’ve been noticing a gap in my English education. It’s not completely one-sided. I did a lot at school. I have so much love for the Brontë sisters. My brilliant A Level English teacher, Mr Buckley, allowed us to choose between Chaucer and Emily Dickinson, but my classmates outvoted me, those bastards, so I was forced into that one (not bitter at all).
Anyway. To try and address this imbalance, I’ve started with a ‘classic’, Middlemarch, but Eliot is so far from what I’m used to that I’m almost having to re-teach myself to read. Whereas Carver is from the Hemingway school of not telling you a fucking thing, Eliot spells everything out for you. I’m finding it incredibly dull. You can’t really compare the two, but the experience is making me think about what I read and why I read it in a way that hadn’t fully occurred to me before. Obviously it’s important to leave your comfort zone from time to time, and I intend to persevere (I’m pinning my hopes on Celia). But when Friendship, the new novel by (American author) Emily Gould, landed on my doormat at the weekend, I seized it and am in danger of finishing it far too quickly. The same cannot be said for Middlemarch.
Once again I have been informed by a total stranger that I am tall. Well done, you’re a fucking genius.
I didn’t stop growing until I was about twenty. I was fairly average until I was a teenager but then I had to start wearing boys’ school trousers because the girls’ ones weren’t long enough, and I just kept going.
I didn’t welcome being conspicuous at school, but now I like being tall for the most part, when I hear my mum’s voice in my head reminding me not to slouch. Sure I have to buy all my jeans from the ‘tall’ section of Topshop, and I’ve never owned a pair of heels in my life, but most women seem to walk home barefoot and carrying them anyway. I can run to catch a train at any given moment without Bristol’s cobbled streets presenting a health risk. I never sink into lawns at weddings. I can help people to reach things at the supermarket. Some tall women say that men find them intimidating, but I’m pretty sure that’s not an issue for me seeing as I am entirely unintimidating in every other way (and sod it if it is).
It’s fine. I wouldn’t change it. But people do like to point it out to me, as if it might have somehow escaped my attention.
This finally arrived and usurped all the other books on my ‘to read’ pile.
Alas, the summer’s energy wanes quickly,
A moment and it is gone. And no longer
May we make the necessary arrangements, simple as they are.
2014 is halfway over. Sadie Stein on putting into words the particular melancholy of the midpoint.
Bryan Ferry at Glastonbury, being all suave and classy. That lovely version of More Than This undid me a little bit.
This is what turning 32 looked like. H and I had an extended shared birthday that spanned several sunny days and involved plate painting, camping on midsummer’s day, a take-away dinner in the car when it was too dark to eat in the tent, the dawn chorus, breakfast in a meadow, a day in Bath, driving with the wind in our hair, a trip to the Citroen garage when Margot chose the anniversary of my birth to break down for the first time in our 10 year relationship, and a picnic in the park with some of my favourite people. Happiest birthday I’ve ever had.