S sends me Vanessa Gebbie’s Words from a Glass Bubble. I am captured instantly by the first three paragraphs of the title story, which begins–
The Virgin Mary spoke to Eva Duffy from a glass bubble in a niche halfway up the stairs. Eva, the post woman, heard the words in her stomach more than her ears, and she called her the VM. The VM didn’t seem to mind.
You think this is a voice, but it isn’t: it’s storytelling. You can’t easily find the point where “style”, “plot”, “characterisation” & “worldbuilding” separate, because they don’t. The result is, literally, to captivate. Myslexia called Gebbie’s “a blithe and energetic narrative drive”. I’d have called it that, too, if I’d been clever enough to think of it.
Meanwhile, far away from this, in Insane Town, the Guardian (& I’m sure every other corner of the media) is exemplary on how to make a panic out of a warning that people might be panicking about something. Is this the ultimate sophistication of the media’s relationship with politics ? We couldn’t squeeze enough panic out of the health panic, so it’s time to go for, yes, meta-panic. Surely we must be near the end of all this ? By which I mean not this particular panic, but the insistent ratcheting-up of mediation (which is a kind of panic in itself, the panic to know, the panic to tell) ? There are human characteristics which just don’t benefit by amplification, just as there are human systems which don’t benefit from being tuned.