What’s Been On My Mind This Week

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Normally I limit this post to ten items, but it seems this has been a busy week, so here is a longer list than usual…

1. I read this interview with therapist Esther Perel in the Telegraph, in which she talks about how intimacy actually ends up impeding desire. Perel has also given a rather brilliant TED talk on the subject, which you can watch here.

2. Although he claims he was misquoted, or that his words were taken out of context, on Thursday Richard Dawkins was alleged to have said that it was ‘pernicious’ to feed children fairytales. You can read Stella Duffy’s wonderfully apposite response, which she gave as a series of tweets, here.

3. Laverne Cox has become the first transgender person to feature on the cover of Time magazine. Unsurprisingly there were a number of articles published in response to this, both positive and negative. I would urge you to read this one in the Guardian and also to watch Cox’s TED talk here.

4. I read a fascinating article on the power and need of ‘unthinking’ in Intelligent Life magazine. You can find it here.

5. More on Hillary Clinton, American politics being a particular interest of mine, but this time focussing on her age, and how (or whether) it might affect her potential run for the Democratic nomination.

6. There was an interesting article (including an electoral map or two, and I do love a good map) on European politics in the Economist, arguing that Britain is not as far adrift from the rest of Europe as it might seem.

7. It was the 25th anniversary of Tiananmen Square this week. There were a great many articles about it, and I read two excellent ones: this in the Economist and this in the New York Times.

8. Kirstie Allsopp wrote an article in the Telegraph urging women to have children before it’s too late (‘Nature is not a feminist’, she said). The responses came in thick and fast, and it’s far too large a job to round them all up here, but there was an interesting one defending her in the Guardian today.

9. There have been a couple of interesting articles recently on men being feminists, or men recognising the prevelance of misogyny, one in the New Statesman and another in the New York Times.

10. Amusingly or worryingly, a study has revealed that the deadliest hurricanes have female names.

11. Having just visited the Hay Festival, I was interested to read this report in the Financial Times about the economics of book festivals.

12. Eimear McBride won the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction with her debut novel, A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing. I’m ashamed to say this is one of two novels on the shortlist I have yet to read, but I will get there. Rejected by a large number of publishers, only eventually printed ten years after McBride first wrote it, it has gone on to win or be nominated for a number of literary prizes. McBride also gave a wonderful speech at the ceremony in which she spoke about the existence of readers who want to be challenged.

13. I’ve finally started watching the recent BBC drama Happy Valley (thankfully I’m able to record programmes on my television as I’m rarely home to watch them). Starring the wonderful Sarah Lancashire (so good in Last Tango in Halifax) and written by Sally Wainwright – who in my eyes, I fear, can do no wrong – it’s a gripping drama about a policewoman (played by Lancashire) set in Yorkshire and makes for compulsive viewing. There was also a great interview with Wainwright in yesterday’s Guardian, in which she discusses her career, why she writes about women, the importance of penning good dialogue and the role sense of place plays in her dramas, but do beware of a few spoilers.

14. I’ve been reading Wavewalker by Stella Duffy. It’s the second book in Duffy’s crime series about London-based private detective Saz Martin. I know I’ve only read the first two, but they’re just brilliant, and I’m looking forward to savouring the next three over the course of this year.

15. I’ve been listening to Wild Go by Dark Dark Dark. The second album from the American folk band, it was released in 2010. I don’t normally listen to a lot of folk music, though Wild Go wears this label lightly (perhaps ‘chamber pop’ is a better description). The focal point is Nona Marie Invie’s tender, almost ethereal vocals which, combined with some beautiful lyrics and a unique soundscape created by various different instruments make for a stunning album.



Categories: On My Mind . . .

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