Month: September 2015

Binocular Vision by Edith Pearlman | edge of evening

Binocular Vision

Iread Susan Dominus’s Motherhood, Screened Off last week as I guess a lot of you did too, coming to it, yes, through a link on Twitter while I was in the kitchen ostensibly preparing tea. I loved her evocation of her mother’s address book, which made me think of my own mother’s address book and telephone book — and the earlier telephone book, spiral bound, whose white plastic binding eventually disintegrated with age and use. But the guilt I felt reading Dominus’s argument that our smartphones make our actions — checking the weather, looking up a friend’s address — mysterious to our children, was all focussed on the book she was reading on her phone at her sons’ soccer practice when another mother called them both out on staring into their devices: Edith Pearlman’s Binocular Vision.  Because Binocular Vision has been sitting on my shelf unread for a year or so. A charity shop find that I was so very pleased with because I’d read the reviews of this collection of Pearlman’s selected and new stories, …

37

Age doesn’t necessarily bring anything with it, save itself. The rest is optional. The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson Last week mainly took me to places I didn’t want to go. It took me to being 37, the age that for the longest time I have not wanted to be because at some point being 37 will mean being older than my father was when he died. I used to be suspicious of people who were 37. They were never as grown up as I thought a 37-year-old should be. They didn’t have all the answers any more than I had all the answers, but I knew that they should have them because they were 37. Then, once I was in my 30s, I realised the impossibility of being as wise and sure and grown up as a 37-year-old parent is to an eleven-year-old child, which is, of course, wiser and surer and more grown up than any 37-year old — or at least this 37-year-old — actually is to themselves. The day after I turned 37 I found …

The Story of the Lost Child

There are moments when what exists on the edges of our lives, and which, it seems, will be in the background forever — an empire, a political party, a faith, a monument, but also simply the people who are part of our daily existence — collapses in an utterly unexpected way, and right when countless other things are pressing upon us.The Story of the Lost Child, Elena Ferrante I spent six happy days torn between my inability to put down the final book of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan quartet and my desire for it to never come to an end. I think that this was probably exactly what Ferrante was trying to do to me. I employ all the strategies I know to capture the reader’s attention, stimulate curiosity, make the page as dense as possible and as easy as possible to turn. But once I have the reader’s attention I feel it is my right to pull it in whichever direction I choose. I don’t think the reader should be indulged as a consumer, because …

Into the forest

I’m alone in the house. The Pip-Pop, now two and three-quarters, started at forest pre-school this morning. He’s the exact age that the other two were when they became a big sister/brother. Sometimes that seems very small, but most often it seems plenty big enough. He’ll be going to pre-school one morning a week to start with, then gradually increasing until after Christmas he’ll be doing his fifteen funded hours. He’s been really excited about going. He thinks that he looks like a fire engine in his new red waterproof dungarees. We dropped the older two at school, walked back to the house together hand-in-hand. As I strapped him into his car seat he said, ‘Mumma, why do I have to have my first day without you?’ I told him I didn’t know, but that it would be a lot of fun. When I got home again, I didn’t know what to do because there was so much that I wanted to do. To read, to write, to go for a walk alone. Even to …

There was coffee, there were books

It must seem to my children that my two main interests in travel (or indeed in life) are books and coffee. And they have a fair point. One of the things I love the most about being anywhere new is imagining what it must be like to live there — thinking about how climate and place shape our lives; wondering what a normal day looks like to someone who lives there. Cafes and bookshops; coffee shops and book stores; they don’t, to me at least, seem the worst place to start. I set out with just two books, The Grapes of Wrath & Joan Didion’s Sentimental Journeys. I came back with seventeen. We had to buy an extra bag for the return flight. This is just a selection. You can blame most of it — the excellent bookshops, the great coffee places — on Nicole Gulotta’s wonderful blog Eat This Poem and the fantastic collection of literary city guides she has curated there. We had the best guides — to Sonoma County, to San Fransico, …