- Twenty-five years ago, upscale high-street retailer Marks and Spencer invented Percy Pig – the pink, pig-shaped gummy sweet that has since taken the British middle-classes by storm. To mark the anniversary, Chris Townsend deconstructs the philosophy behind the popular sweet: ‘What the smiling face of Percy Pig reveals is precisely the displeasure we take in looking beyond the face of things, and beyond the superficial grinning inanity of the marketing departments. It is the smile of a brand-owned animal that wants to cleanse you of any guilt you might feel about eating its kind; the gelatine that wants to be eaten.’
- Carmen Maria Machado’s Her Body and Other Parties is out this month. Jane Dykema describes teaching ‘The Husband Stitch’ – the first story in Machado’s collection – in fiction workshops: ‘Often, one woman admits she cried when she read it, and when I nod and ask why, she says she doesn’t know.’ ‘In the beginning, I know I want him before he does,’ opens the story, which you can read in full on our website, or listen to it on our podcast.
- The Book of Dust, Philip Pullman’s long-awaited prequel to the His Dark Materials trilogy, is out today. If, for some reason your pre-ordered copy hasn’t arrived, or you need something to read on your phone en route to the bookstore, here is Pullman talking about the new book, his own childhood and his changing relationship to religion, or even better, an extract from the book itself.
- To procreate or not to procreate? Anti-natalist David Benatar argues that we ‘should never, under any circumstance, procreate’ because ‘coming into existence is always worse than never existing’. For further anti-natal attitudes, see Meghan Daum’s Sixteen Writers on the Decision Not to Have Kids. As Geoff Dyer explains, ‘if you can’t handle the emptiness of life, fine: have kids, fill the void. But some of us are quite happy in the void, thank you, and have no desire to have it filled.’
- We round-off with some of our favourite interviews with British novelist Kazuo Ishiguro. ‘It’s a bit like naming a child,’ explains Ishiguro, on how he chooses his book titles. ‘Memory is this terribly treacherous terrain, the very ambiguities of memory go to feed self-deception,’ he admits in conversation with Graham Swift. ‘I never forget that Pride and Prejudice was written by someone several years younger than Zadie Smith,’ said the Nobel laureate in 2005, stressing about his own legacy.
Image © Leigh Harries