Sunday, May 24, 2009


Knowing Your Place

I have a favourite book store in any city I've spent more than five minutes in (sidebar: the teenage country singer, Taylor Swift, has my heart, though I've yet to hear any of her music, after she said "If I've talked to you for more than five minutes, I've probably gone on to write a song about you".)
Anyway, my favourite book store in L.A, from long before I ever lived here, has always been 'Book Soup'. Each time I published a novel I'd ask my editor, "Can I do a reading at Book Soup?" And they'd always say they were totally booked up, because reading there is simply so prestigious. When 'Damage Control' came out, the store finally came to ME and asked ME to read there - this is ten years after I started publishing, after going to see Martin Amis read there, Jennifer Belle, Rachel Resnick, all these novelists I so admire. I got to the door, a-quiver with nerves, and was greeted with this sign:

I read on a Thursday, he the night before. I laughed so hard, I had - to invoke Kate Winslet at the Golden Globes - "gather" before I could speak. Hey, at least on book shelves, my name is generally after Ford Maddox Ford.

Monday, May 18, 2009


Words can't even...

I am seething with rage right now:

Thursday, May 07, 2009


Frida Preggo

This is Bianca, my oldest friend in New York, who is forever going round having babies. Okay, this is only her second. Her first, Miles, is just learning to talk (in French, Spanish and English, naturally) and I love hearing them go back and forth with each other because, living in LA, I so miss east coast accents. Example (mother and child playing with a toy):

Miles: "Gimme!"
Bianca: "FUH-gedda-boud-it!"

With her black hair, braids,rose and red lips, Bianca may look like Frida Kahlo, but, I swear she sounds like James Gandolfini.

(I want to know: when you become a mum, do you automatically get mom-skillz or do you work for them? I stayed with a girlfriend whose cat had a right old feel of my eyelids in the night, and I was too sleepy to push it off the bed. In the morning my left eye was totally bloodshot and swollen. Everybody said "Rinse with saline", "Go to the doctor", "Use droplets from Wholefoods" and Bianca was the one who said "Rinse that motherfucker with water and do not stop until I tell you" - like I said: Tony Soprano. Anyway, it worked. Completely. Just lots and lots of water. That was a pretty boring story, but I am genuinely interested about whether your wisdom hormones morph with child birth, because we surely did do some really dumb things when we met ten years ago).

Sunday, May 03, 2009


Carol Ann Duffy

I must quickly note how delighted I am that Carol Ann Duffy has been appointed Britain's first ever female Poet Laureate. My sister sent me a care package several years ago with Duffy's collection 'The World's Wife' included, and I've been a devotee ever since. This from 'Valentine', which is included in her 2005 collection 'Rapture':

I give you an onion.
Its fierce kiss will stay on your lips,
possessive and faithful
as we are,
for as long as we are.

I'd been thinking of Duffy just the other day in the context of a quote from Joni Mitchell. She mentioned why she'd written the song 'Amelia' for the late aviator, Amelia Earhart:

"I wanted to send regards from one solo pilot to another".

I found that very beautiful, as I do the tender yet courageous work of Carol Ann Duffy.

Saturday, May 02, 2009


Sepia Misdemeanor

My amazing friend Sara, who is sort of the Welsh Holly Golightly meets Noam Chomsky (here she is looking dewy, whilst I look, per letter writer below, Jew-y), recently came on a research trip to Oxford University with me for a film I'm doing. As of last month, Sara is technically my assistant in life, and she does a damn fine job - I always think of the scene in 'Airplane', when the customer goes up to the information desk and asks "What time is Flight 103 to Houston?" and the next customer goes up and asks "What is the average weight of a rabbit?"

This picture of me in the Magdalen College dining hall illustrates my essential trouble in life: "Do Not pass this point" "Right, hold my bag, I'm passing this point." "Do not step on lawn" "Mind my camera for me, love, whilst I just step on this lawn".

The most beautiful thing we both saw on our expedition to Oxford was this:

Stained glass windows in sepia! That's going right in the script. And hopefully, in some version ('Bruce Springsteen With Cat'?) in the house of my dreams.

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