A watched pot never boils. A journal subscribed to never arrives.
My partner decided to subscribe to the London Review of Books. He doesn’t know it well. I read it avidly online, especially if there is anything written by Iain Sinclair, Hilary Mantel or James Wood (pf whom more later). All of last week I waited for the Royal Mail postman to drive up in the red van with insignia and deliver the latest issue. It didn’t arrive. It may not arrive until we have made a great deal of fuss. I still watch for the postman though because I have a naive and childlike notion of postmen being reliable and likeable men in quaint uniforms. ‘Postman Pat/Postman Pat!/Postman Pat and his black-and-white cat!’ That kind of thing.
The Private Eye has not arrived either but it is the London Review of Books that I long for. I may have to go out and buy a copy, prompted by the funniest quote I have read in years from the LA Times:
‘But there is vast anecdotal evidence of subscribers to the New Yorker and the London Review of Books reading Wood’s essays huddled in entryways, coats and keys and umbrellas still in their hands. He has earned a rare and awesome cultural authority.’
That’s me! Well, no, it isn’t. I couldn’t finish reading Wood on Rivka Galchen in the New Yorker online. Vast anecdotal evidence? Hilarious. And now he is writing on Aleksander Hemon’s fictional lives and I have to work out how to roast a Barbary duck breast for supper and can’t manage both Wood and duck. Too mentally exhausting. But I do like to read the London Review of Books and wish it would arruve.
For one thing it would mean that I could stop trying to write fiction and just read about fiction for a day or two. The odd thing is that I enjoy writing. I blog and post and do emails and work out features articles without too much distress or procrastination. But fiction is my own personal demon. If what I wrote was no good, I could cheerfully think, ‘That’s that!’ and move on to nonfiction and write that. But some lines and paragraphs are tantalisingly satisfactory. So I persist.
The low-level depression is still there but shifted or displaced a little by a lively phone conversation with a new friend from the rooms. And an exchange of emails witha nother transatlantic friend from the fellowship. And a slice or two of locally cured ham, mild but spicy, lashed with Dijon and piled on buttered bread.
Another friend, a blogger, wrote and said.’Are you lonely, sweet thing?’ And instantly Sweet Thing was less lonely. The human community’s collective miracle, that we need one another.
But now I must be thankful I have not read James Wood on the Making of Fiction — so intimidating! — and can get back to a short story that began as a novel and may end as an epigram.
Wondering too why somebody who typed in ‘sexual life’ on Google arrived at my blog. Technorati seems puzzled too. It isn’t that my sex life is not hot (she said coyly) but I don’t think it is anybody’s business but mine. The mysteries of blog-conspiring in the Aquarian Age of the Internet…