Sarah Gerard is the author of Binary Star. Her essay collection Sunshine State is published this month by Harper Perennial. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, the Paris Review Daily and elsewhere. Sarah shares five things she’s reading, watching and thinking about right now.
1. Living alone
—for the first time in my life, since my husband and I broke up in January. I’m in the studio apartment we shared for five years. I listen to the silence. I make a mess whenever I want to and I clean it up on my own schedule. I’m planning to paint one of the walls the color of the ceiling in Grand Central Terminal, and bring in more bookshelves, and install a projector and a pull-down screen for watching movies. I’m changing out the artwork. I’ve discovered that I like to do the dishes and scrub the bathtub and Swiffer the floors, and that I’m actually very good with plants, and have an instinct for them, despite what I’d come to believe. I water them reliably and repot them when they need more room to send down roots.
2. Veiny Hands
—is a band from St Petersburg, Florida. They released their self-titled debut EP this month and are currently touring with La Luz, whom I love. Their sound is similar in some ways to La Luz’s: surf, psych, garage, blues, shoegaze. Fuzzy vocals. Crunchy licks. Darkness and adrenaline and poetry and sex. Lots of range in five songs, which are totally addictive. I’ve been playing them on repeat.
—is one of the most original books I’ve read in years. Any kind of description I attempt here would do a disservice to the work itself, so instead I’d like to offer up the first two sentences of the book’s first story, ‘Moon Colonies’: ‘In the morning the waves glowed like uranium, a deep sweat coming up off the seafloor. It was beautiful but it was nerve-wracking, too, being that close to the future.’
4. Leonora Carrington
—was a Surrealist painter and writer. In April, Dorothy, a publishing project will release her Complete Stories, which are playful, irreverent, decadent and strange. Darkly delightful, they follow a kind of fairy-tale logic, with an emphasis on the blacker side of fairy tales: the not-quite-human; animal familiars; murder; vengeance; madness. That same month, NYRB will release Carrington’s nonfiction work, Down Below, about the psychotic break she suffered in 1940 when her lover, the Surrealist artist Max Ernst, was taken away to a concentration camp, and Carrington was imprisoned in an insane asylum where she was subjected to sadistic treatments. She relates her descent into madness with clear-eyed precision.
—is a 1940’s thriller film, from which the term ‘gaslighting’ originates. Often used in conversations about domestic violence, gaslighting is when your partner uses manipulative tactics to make you question your own sanity as a method of control. I watched Gaslight for the first time the other night, when an old girlfriend came over for dinner, and a conversation about our lives turned into a you-have-to-see-it-now viewing of this movie, which you can find in its entirety on YouTube. Prescient and chilling, it tells the story of a husband who tries to convince his wife that she’s insane by changing elements of her environment and then insisting that she’s delusional or misremembering things when she calls attention to these changes. Sound familiar?
Photo by Eric Fanghanel © Estate of Leonora Carrington / ARS, NY and DACS, London 2015