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.
Bette Howland (Picador, 2021) pbk, £14.99 Originally published in 1974, this is an account by the author of the time she spent as an inpatient in a psychiatric ward of a hospital in Chicago, having taken a life-threatening overdose. It piqued the interest of Brigid Hughes, editor of Public Space magazine, who came across it Read More
Jill Hopper(Saraband Books, 2021); hbk, 2021) Billed as a memoir of beginnings and endings this is the first book by Jill Hopper, a London based freelance journalist. It joins the growing number of personal accounts of loss and grief such as Joyce Carol Oates’ A Widow’s Story, or Megan O’ Rourke’s The Long Goodbye. Collectively Read More
Lenka Janiurek’s compelling memoir, Watermarks, ebbs and flows through a life shaped by trauma and loss. Beginning with her own birth, ‘I am in water, submerged and suspended’, Janiurek floods the text with densely detailed descriptions of a turbulent life. At six years old, the loss of her mother changes ‘absolutely everything and everyone for Read More
Carmen Maria Machado’s debut collection of short stories, Her Body and Other Parties, an inventive mining of the darker side of folk and fairy tales, was hailed in 2018 as one of 15 books by women ‘shaping the way we read and write fiction in the 21st century.’ Her memoir, In the Dream House, offers Read More
Motherwell is a poignant family portrait, articulately painted by the late Deborah Orr of a life with ‘house-proud’ mother Win and ‘factory-worker’ father John. Orr achieved success as a journalist, becoming editor of the Guardian’s Weekend supplement by 31, and writing a weekly column for two decades thereafter. She was also a child of Scottish Read More
Michelle Tea’s latest book, Against Memoir: Complaints, Confessions and Criticisms, turns the notion of the memoir on its head. Divided into three sections – ‘Art & Music’, ‘Love & Queerness’ and ‘Writing & Life’ – the essay collection paints a non-sequential picture of Tea’s life, layered under her musings and rants about other LGBT+ artists Read More
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