It’s not often I have a day so tough that it becomes impossible to work, but yesterday was one of those days.
My head space was all jammed up, and there was no way to do the writing that I wanted, and, frankly, needed to do.
It’s rare, and I try to fight that shit, but, sometimes, fighting is just a fighting battle.
On the other hand, I wasn’t about to waste a day, and when I can’t write, I can at least fuel the fire.
A couple of months ago, I accompanied the husband to his old college for a writers’ event. We had a great day, and met some very interesting people, a number of whom the husband, and I, had met before, and one or two of whom were new to me, or to both of us. One of the new people was the journalist and memoirist, Emma Brockes, who attended SEH about a dozen years after the husband. She gave a fascinating talk, first thing on a fine Saturday morning, and I couldn’t help accosting her for a chat, afterwards, and stealing some of her ideas for my blogs that week. You can read them again here, here and here.
I have been waiting for Emma’s memoir, She Left Me the Gun, since that Saturday, early in February, so, when it arrived, I was keen to get straight into it. Yesterday was my first chance to do that, and I’m very glad that I picked it up, because I sat down and read it from cover to cover, without stopping... for anything.
I haven’t written a review on this blog before, and I’m not sure I’m going to do it now; I’m certainly not going to make a habit of it.
I will say a few things about my reading habits, though.
I am horribly demanding of books... most books.
I rarely read an entire book.
I almost never read memoirs.
I stand at the tables in my local Waterstones... both of them (shops, not tables)... discarding books, because the writing isn’t up to scratch, regardless of content. If the writing’s bearable, I then start discarding books on the grounds that the contents aren’t to my liking.
I am a book snob, in so far as I'm always looking for quality of content, ideas and execution, and I don’t care who knows it. Life really is too short to read a crappy book.
Emma Brockes is not a snob.
Emma Brockes writes lively, funny, acid prose, which is also grammatically correct.
Emma Brockes manages to unravel the story of her grandfather’s trial for the abuse of his children, while painting a picture of an extraordinary woman, her mother, who built her own enduring connections with the people she loved.
This is emphatically, categorically NOT a misery memoir. Thank fuck!
If you need any higher praise than that, you won’t find it here.
Besides, there is no higher praise than that.