"There is no centre anymore. We live in a multipolar world, and culture reflects that." Fatima Bhutto
Posts tagged "France"
Deciding not to die

Deciding not to die

Increasingly frequently, when out in the street, I run into people I know, but when I go to kiss them I remember they’re dead and realize to my horror that I’m about to kiss a doppelganger. It’s pretty unsettling, having to stop yourself saying hello to the dead. “Hi Régine!” “Excuse me?” “You’re… you’re not...
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,...
Our Lady in peril

Our Lady in peril

Of the night of the fire I remember a kaleidoscope of images, a collision of emotions, in quick succession. Through my kitchen window seeing bright-yellow plumes of smoke coiling into the sky, then rushing down the stairs onto quai de la Tournelle, standing right opposite Notre-Dame’s south rose window, the red and orange tongues of...
A good lie

A good lie

“Excuse me?” Her voice unnerved me a little. It also scared me. First I heard the surprise in it, and then the touch of indignation. I disregarded her tone. She shouldn’t see the flaws. My fright, for example, and my inner doubts. If she noticed those, there was no chance. I explained again, as clearly...
Anne Cathrine Bomann: How to relate

Anne Cathrine Bomann: How to relate

Danish psychologist, poet – and former national table-tennis champion Anne Cathrine Bomann’s debut novel Agatha is a tender portrait of an ageing, jaded doctor whose life is nudged towards greater fulfilment through the arrival at his clinic of a younger female patient, who forces him to look up from his distracted doodling and re-engage with...
The short cut

The short cut

I look so much like her, it upsets them. They think they’re seeing her, seeing her returned, seeing her returning. They take me for a revenant. I’ve never returned, though; I haven’t seen my family since then. Since I can’t remember when. Actually I do know, since the death of our grandmother. They talk to...
Heart to heart

Heart to heart

It’s August in Tunisia, I come across this scene. Before the wrought-iron window frame, in full sunlight, you can come and see what’s happening now as well as what has happened, you can sit and wait for the sounds to return, for the smells, the gestures, the words to revive and it’s suddenly all so...
More than itself

More than itself

More than a poet, Rilke, one might argue, is a supreme embodiment of a Platonic idea of the artist, a sublime abstraction of the power of art and of words to haunt us and to grant us life. Even when alive, he was less a person than he was a persona, a complex yet intangible...
The view from below

The view from below

Robert Macfarlane’s Underland: A Deep Time Journey has its roots in three ‘surfacings’ that occurred in the spring and summer of 2010: the explosion of the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull, the Deep Water Horizon blow-out in the Gulf of Mexico, and the entrapment of 33 miners at the San José copper and gold mine in northern...
Laura Beatty: Insight and wonder

Laura Beatty: Insight and wonder

One comes away from meeting and talking with Laura Beatty with a combined sense of awe and the closest human affinity and immediacy. She possesses a formidable mind, a very composed and elegiac conversational style that one may only call a delicately poetic oral prose. The beginning of a thought or a sentence soon acquires...