A prolific essayist, Chris Arthur’s writing is marked invariably by an expansive curiosity, an omnivorous reading life and spooling philosophical enquiries that begin with an attentiveness to the ordinary. His finely wrought essays are what challenged me to think about essaying as an activity outside the schoolroom, beyond those dry-as-dust abstracts and arguments of professionalised, templated writing that sometimes masquerade for life in the Humanities….
Polly Morland’s book builds on the irony of first finding a copy of The Fortunate Man (1967) hanging ‘in suspended animation’ while clearing out her mother’s house, John Berger’s witness account of the vicissitudes of a country doctor’s life in the same Gloucestershire valley in which the author now resides. This find sets in motion a series of emotionally charged events pinning memory, persons, place to what it is to be a woman GP in a country practice in the last two years of Covid.
Chitra Ramaswamy’s second book explores what home means in an individual life and the role family and language play as fundamental elements in its evolution, as much as the physical place we find ourselves living. She opens up the shifting relationships between homeland and motherland, between the actual place we are situated and an elusive sense of origin, of connection with an elsewhere which is indirect—imaginal even—tugging at the mind and heart.
Burden Goldilocks produces prophesied curls, Snow White becomes a pearly corpse, Thumbelina never grows beyond her moniker. “What’s my name?” The Queen speaks the legendary word and Rumpelstiltskin, crooked imp, boils. Hops on stilt-thin legs, hide splitting. Repel-stilt-skin. I gobble fairy-tales like chocolates, plump with self-appointed expertise. Evil girls pretend to be princesses, masquerade as Read More
In 2014, essayist Eula Biss took out a mortgage with her husband on a two-bedroom bungalow in Chicago. The experience made her uneasy. On the first page of Having and Being Had, Biss describes how a Mexican woman accompanied by four children, on seeing the front room of the bungalow was curtainless and empty, enquired if the room was available to rent. A moment of intense discomfort.
Brenda McHale loves to play with words, either as a writer or as a copy editor and proofreader. Her working life has spanned over 30 jobs from making chip pan baskets to childhood practitioner, so it’s perhaps not surprising that her writing is also eclectic. She has featured in The People’s Friend, Northwards Now, Reader’s Read More
Know my name A name is a fickle thing. For me, it’s a way for people to get my attention; for others, it is me. For my part, I don’t think of myself as ‘Craig’. I answer to it, but I don’t like it. I’ve heard it remarked that it is a ‘good Scottish Read More
“Before I Knocked” – the title is from a Dylan Thomas poem – focuses on three images from the past: a postcard sent from California to Belfast in 1931; a photograph of two British soldiers in Jerusalem during World War II; and a family snapshot taken on an Irish beach in 1954. The essay unravels/imagines Read More