The lean man with a falcon-like face smiled from behind his huge desk. Underneath it his feet were shaking. I smiled back. Our smiles were different. His casual, glibly courteous expression announced indifference. The set civility of my forced facial exertion, the conscripted memory of what a smile …
Top Reads 2021
‘It’s no good joining an existing cult, you have to start one yourself.’
A short story by Japanese author Sayaka Murata, translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori, who also brought us Convenience Store Woman and Earthlings.
Have You Met Husband?
‘The oysters were her idea, a way of catching me off guard. I accidentally said yes.’
A story by Amy Silverberg.
‘I often had head lice as a child.’
Memoir by A.K. Blakemore, author of The Manningtree Witches.
A Bleed of Blue
‘I was trying simultaneously to numb the grief I felt and to burrow into that grief, so I could stand in it.’
On love, its absence and Joni Mitchell’s Blue album.
‘I want the poem to destroy time. / What are the ceremonies of forgetting?’
Nick Laird’s elegy for his father, Alastair Laird, who died of Covid-19.