"I didn't want people to read in the same way they might eat five portions of fruit and vegetables every day, but because I wanted them to know the mind-expanding privilege of walking a mile in someone else's shoes." Cathy Rentzenbrink
Posts tagged "Covid-19"
On the matter of eternity

On the matter of eternity

The past few years have seen the explosive emergence of a highly fetishised and merchandised cult of the home: as a fiercely protected private space of explicitly public (voyeuristic) visibility, as the locus of a redefined, globalised community of purported ecumenical camaraderie, as the shrine of high-design spirituality, and as a new status symbol of...
Survivor rage

Survivor rage

David Hare succumbed to Covid-19 last March, as the UK government continued to dither over following the rest of Europe into lockdown. He contracted it in the confines of a cramped Soho editing room, and was soon experiencing a shortage of breath followed by complex symptoms he describes as “kicking around like I’ve swallowed a...
Kirstin Innes: Infinite variety

Kirstin Innes: Infinite variety

Scabby Queen is a Scottish version of the Old Maid card game in which “the queen goes round and round, and the object is to get rid of her – pass her on to the next one as quickly as you can” – and the person left with the queen is hit over the knuckles...
Yun Ko-eun: Into the wreckage

Yun Ko-eun: Into the wreckage

Yun Ko-eun’s disconcerting and darkly funny novel The Disaster Tourist follows the misfortunes of Yona, a disgruntled coordinator for the travel company Jungle. Yona’s employer organizes guided tours to destinations that have been traumatized by disaster – earthquakes, floods, fires and war, amongst dozens of other categories. When she threatens to quit her job after...
The existentialist and the minestrone

The existentialist and the minestrone

Kit’s mobile rings at exactly 2.00 pm. ‘Why is everyone booking a time to ring?’ ‘It gives a structure to the day,’ says Sarah. ‘The day mightn’t want structure.’ A robin crashes against the bay window in Kit’s first-floor living room. ‘Ouch,’ she says. ‘What?’ ‘It’s the robin who flies into my window. I try to...
How Boris Johnson ruined my book launch (and Vladimir Nabokov restored it)

How Boris Johnson ruined my book launch (and Vladimir Nabokov restored it)

There’s a persistent aftertaste to bad timing. Just ask someone born on 11 September 2001, or the brides and grooms of late November 1963, after JFK’s visit to Dallas. Better yet, consider Vladimir Nabokov, whose novel The Real Life of Sebastian Knight – not nearly as famous as Lolita but arguably on par with it...
Coming in and going out

Coming in and going out

Plague diary, 29 March 2020. I’m reading about one of the biggest icebergs in history, “a tabular iceberg” in Antarctica, which was “more than 31,000 km2”. “Significantly larger than Belgium,” they add. I read that another giant iceberg, a sort of island 61 metres thick, “took seventeen years to be mapped.” I start studying bunkers,...
Every animal has its own madness

Every animal has its own madness

Plague diary, 25 March 2020. Sometimes, in the terrible world, people open their front doors just slightly and spit as foreigners pass. Foreign, I’m told, in one of the Slavic languages, means mute. Whoever does not speak my language, is mute. Whoever does not have my history, is mute. “Virus detected in the sewers in...