"To write anything worth reading you have to put everything you have into every sentence. There can be no lazy thinking, no clichés, no borrowed tropes, no third-hand experience; there can be no hiding.” Miranda Darling
Posts tagged "USA"
Catskills karma

Catskills karma

In 1973 my family spent a summer in the Catskills, upstate New York. One afternoon I peeped through the fence of our front yard as a woman with long yellow hair lay down in the middle of the road. My mother said there was a house near the river where the hippies lived. They did...
Homunculus

Homunculus

“Her hair was blonde, but more white-blonde than yellow, see?” Charles focuses on where the man’s shaking finger stabs the photograph. Its subject is wrapped in a red sundress with daisies vivid enough to be real raining diagonally across the fabric. Strands fly loose from her ponytail like wisps of raw cotton in the wind....
The new censor

The new censor

The new censor was late to his office. He had stood too long, rooted to the ground in front of the Censorship Authority building, trying to guess the number of floors it contained. A few meters from the entrance, counting on his fingers, he was certain there were at least thirty-six floors. But the elevator...
The horror of the self

The horror of the self

In November 1979, the American current affairs programme 60 Minutes ran an item called ‘Wellness’. In it, host Dan Rather profiled the work of Dr John Travis, a former physician-turned health educator who had, in 1975, opened the Wellness Resource Center in Mill Valley, an affluent city in California’s Marin County. As Rather discovered, Travis...
Anatomy of an obsession

Anatomy of an obsession

You’re likely wondering what all this is about – my aim in contacting you. It’s been three years since rain flicked our glasses as we stood inches apart and I stared at your quivering upper lip, which always reminded me of the tilde: ~. Last week, a journalist contacted me. Since I appeared in a...
Judith Shakespeare

Judith Shakespeare

In her 1929 feminist manifesto, A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf explored the reasons why over the centuries women had written so little compared to men. “A woman must have money and a room of her own,” she famously pronounced, “if she is to write fiction.” In lectures originally given in 1928 at Newnham...
Kate Brody: Missing people, muddled lives

Kate Brody: Missing people, muddled lives

Kate Brody’s pacy debut thriller is a novel of our times. A missing woman, social media conspiracy theories, mental health issues, suspicion, trust, self-harm and family trauma are woven together to give us a troubling, riveting and sharply written noir set on America’s East Coast. What’s the worst that can happen when you’ve already lost...
No I won't 'calm down' about Greta Gerwig

No I won’t ‘calm down’ about Greta Gerwig

On my desktop is an unfinished essay, a file called Greta Gerwig Won’t Win. I’ve been trying to write about Gerwig for some time, but I only started this version recently – post-Golden Globes, Oscars rumours simmering. I thought Gerwig would be nominated for directing but have no chance of winning, and I was frustrated...
Here or there

Here or there

Dan proposed to me the evening of his mother’s funeral. After saying goodbye to the last of our friends at the end of the wake, he grabbed a half-consumed bottle of wine and led me to the back of his parents’ yard, down by the compost bin and dying vegetable garden, where we squatted beside...
Spooky houses with eerily lit windows

Spooky houses with eerily lit windows

The image is instantly recognisable to horror fans: a foreboding house, a darkened sky, a single illuminated window. Maybe a figure stands silhouetted against the window’s yellow glow. Maybe the house is in a state of disrepair – forked cracks at the foundation and creeping vines strangling the porch rails. To me, a lifelong lover...
Charlotte Perkins Gilman: 'The Yellow Wallpaper'

Charlotte Perkins Gilman: ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’

I recently found myself on the horror side of BookTok, scrolling through video after video recommending “books that will rattle me to my core” and “scary fall reads” when something intrigued me enough to stop scrolling. A young man stared into the camera, carefully holding a book so that the viewer couldn’t immediately see the...
Embracing the unknown

Embracing the unknown

Gina Chung’s near-future debut novel Sea Change is narrated by 30-year-old Korean American aquarium worker Ro, whose menial job is uplifted by taking care of a magnificent, genetically mutated giant octopus called Dolores. Dolores was brought to the aquarium by Ro’s father two decades earlier, lifted from a highly polluted stretch of northern ocean known...