At a dinner in Atlanta, Georgia, I sat next to a slightly haggard British woman with an unlikely coif of grey ringlets who, having learned about my work, asked, ‘So tell me, then. Which do you find more burdensome: being gay or being depressed?’ I think I mustered a polite answer even as I imagined telling my husband later that his conversation partner could not have been worse than mine. But that was some fifteen years ago, before I began to question the line between identity and illness. Now, I have to admit that being gay and being depressed do have a certain amount broadly in common and a great deal in common in my life. Not because they are comparably ‘burdensome’, but because they have become my topics, both in my life and in my work. Not a day goes by that I don’t have unsolicited correspondence from someone who is depressed and needs help, or from someone who is gay and suffering for it.
Longreads for the Lockdown
Doctors, solitude and the stones within us – for fiction about isolation, it has to be Haruki Murakami. Translated from the Japanese by Jay Rubin.
Plague Diary: March
‘Things have changed without seeking permission.’ A plague diary of this March, by Gonçalo M. Tavares, translated from the Portuguese by Daniel Hahn.
‘Our view of the morning’s entertainment was restricted by the width of the door frame.’ Bruce Chatwin writes about his imprisonment during a coup in Benin.
The Leech Barometer
‘A leech bodes this: you will, sooner or later, overflow yourself. ’ Rebecca Giggs on leeches and the borders of the human body.
The Lost Performance of the High Priestess of the Temple of Horror
‘Her eyes fluttered open and I felt like I was at the edge of the mouth of a cave, with every intention of jumping in.’ For pure escapism, lose yourself in the nineteenth-century Paris of Carmen Maria Machado.