“Tell us about your first day at something,” the WordPress blank page urges. As usual, nothing comes to mind. My so-called memoir is predicated on this understanding of myself & dedicated as a consequence to “everybody who couldn’t think what to say”.
I can tell you, in case you didn’t know, that it’s nearly Christmas & that–apart from the obvious one, arrived at collectively with some of the nicest people I’ve ever met and delivered as a longlist, a shortlist, then a winner–I haven’t made any kind of Best of the Year list this year, a year in which I might be said to have read quite a few books. But if you’re looking for last minute presents for certain kinds of reader, let me recommend: (1) Sara Baume’s quiet, charming Seven Steeples; (2) its defining or metaphysical opposite, the long, Gothic Cormac McCarthy double-header The Passenger/Stella Maris (which is not, as many would have it, a “muddle “or an “old man’s book”, or “too mathy”, or any of those things, but a desperately clever suite of positions on the wispiness of what we call reality); and (3) the best book of any sort I’ve read in the last five years or so–Maria Stepanova’s In Memory of Memory.
Meanwhile, next door, perhaps in anticipation of the coming season or perhaps to forget it, they’re listening to Vera Lynn-like music out of which emerges every so often a faint burst of 1940s dialogue–British, actors’ posh, somebody’s idea of how aristocratic ducks would talk–and I’m not sure whether they’re watching a film or if this is actually a physics condition of their kitchen.