Brat by Andrew McCarthy

I recommended to a friend on Twitter that she listen to the audiobook, Brat by Andrew McCarthy – it’s his memoir about the eighties (read by him).

And then this happened:

I squealed.

My kids came running. I told them that Andrew McCarthy had tweeted me. Before they could say anything (‘Who?’), I said Pretty-in-Pink-St-Elmo’s-Fire-Andrew-McCarthy.

It is possibly the highlight of my 11 years on Twitter. Continue reading

Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld

Have you ever been to a psychic? I’ve dabbled. They’ve said things, very specific things, that they couldn’t know about me, and therefore I can’t completely rule out the possibility that psychic ability exists. And while much of my formal education has focused on the sciences (and therefore I should dismiss psychic-mumbo-jumbo), I always circle back to the role of ‘gut instinct’ and our sense of intuition. These things can’t be explained simply.

Curtis Sittenfeld’s novel, Sisterland, focuses on identical twin sisters, Violet and Kate, who are born with psychic abilities. Violet embraces her visions, and Kate does her best to hide them. When Violet appears on television sharing her premonition of a major earthquake striking their hometown of St. Louis, the lives of Violet, Kate and their family and friends are disrupted, as people quickly sought into ‘believers’ and ‘non-believers’.
Continue reading

The Motion of the Body Through Space by Lionel Shriver

My husband has recently taken up ‘jogging’ again. I use inverted commas because by his own definition, jogging is more like a ‘shuffle’. And I had to giggle when Strava automatically named one of his jogging sessions ‘Afternoon Walk’. Regardless of whether it’s a walk, a shuffle, or a jog, his return to exercise has been absolutely excruciating for me – all the groaning about sore muscles, various injuries, the very fact that he has downloaded Strava… it reminds me of the depths of our middle-aged, middle-classness. Ugh.

Lionel Shriver’s most recent novel, The Motion of the Body Through Space, was a roller-coaster – I was laughing hysterically one minute (with husband saying, ‘What’s so funny?’)

…he was bracing both hands against a wall and elongating a calf muscle. The whole ritual screamed of the internet.

And shuddering in grim recognition the next –

…Remington was actually upright, albeit draped over two chairs at the dining table, hands dripping from his wrists in entitled fatigue. Continue reading

Sample Saturday – a bar, lies, and a crime

Sample Saturday is when I wade through the eleventy billion samples I have downloaded on my Kindle. I’m slowly chipping away and deciding whether it’s buy or bye.

This week, the three samples that have been on my Kindle the longest (so, no idea why I have them). Continue reading

Death in Her Hands by Ottessa Moshfegh

How did people go on with their lives as though death weren’t all around them?

After reading Death in Her Hands by Ottessa Moshfegh, I decided that if I had to host one of those ‘choose five guests’ dinner parties, Ottessa would be on the list. She’s so weird. She’d probably make me a little nervous as a host… But I also reckon she’d have a ripping sense of humour. Continue reading

Memorial Drive by Natasha Trethewey

Memorial Drive by Natasha Trethewey made lots of ‘best of 2020′ lists, and I find it hard to pass by a memoir that garners so much praise.

Natasha describes the events leading to her mother’s violent death, and how her experience of grief and trauma has shaped her work (Trethewey is a Pulitzer Prize–winning poet).

Three decades is a long time to get to know the contours of loss, to become intimate with one’s own bereavement. You get used to it. Most days it is a distant thing, always on the horizon, sailing toward me with it’s difficult cargo. Continue reading

Make it Scream, Make it Burn by Leslie Jamison

There were stories in Leslie Jamison’s first essay collection, The Empathy Exams, that I still think about more than five years after reading them. And it’s remarkable how regularly I refer others to particular essays written by Jamison. I suspect it will be the same with her latest collection, Make it Scream, Make it Burn.

So which particular essays will I be pressing on people, and why? Continue reading

Can You Ever Forgive Me? by Lee Israel

Who isn’t intrigued by a literary scandal? As I type, a few pop to mind – Helen Demidenko, James Frey, and whether Harper Lee ever wanted Go Set a Watchman to be published. But I’d never heard of Lee Israel – best-selling author and ‘literary forger’. She fesses up to her criminal activity in her memoir, Can You Ever Forgive Me? (and yes, let’s park the fact that she profited from writing a memoir about her crime).

I had never known anything but ‘up’ in my career, had never received even one of those formatted no-thank-you slips that successful writers look back upon with triumphant jocularity. Continue reading