THE CRÈME DE LA CRÈME

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‘The evening paper rattle-snaked its way through the letter box and there was suddenly a six-o’clock feeling in the house.’

One of my wonderful Creative Writing MA lecturers Caron Freeborn was praising the novels of Muriel Spark a week ago, and when she discovered I hadn’t yet read The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, she told me to get to it immediately. So I did. Part of the same Waterstones exercise that provided me with Miranda July’s short stories from the previous post. And there is ‘a six o’clock feeling in the house’ as I read Spark’s perfect lines. Miss Jean Brodie is a novella, which has always been one of my favourite manifestations of story-telling. Scalpel work woven with a poet’s hand. I feel as though this is a poem disguised as a novella. Maybe that is because poems are woven into the body of the work. Or maybe the best works of fiction always feel like poetry to me. I am enjoying myself, and not a little in awe of the eponymous leader…

‘Plainly,’ said Miss Brodie, ‘you were not listening to me. If only you small girls would listen to me I would make of you the crème de la crème.’

JULY IN APRIL

It is probably a dull habit to read all types of books from start to finish, but I find myself unable to dip in and out of a new book of poems or short stories. I like to be thorough. The way I’d eat dessert. I wouldn’t dream of plunging my spoon or fork into the heart and smearing the centre down the sides. Maybe I should…

So it is with my latest current read. No One Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July. It has a yellow cover. I like books with some yellow in them. Maybe it’s a glaucoma thing. Or maybe it’s a happy thing. It caught my eye at Waterstones and accompanied me through a solitary lunch at Yo! Sushi where a little boy of eight seemed quite fascinated by the creature opposite him, eating alone and looking perfectly satisfied to do so.

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Reading July in April is a delicious thing. Subversive. Which is the best way to describe these stories. Which I discover later also come in other colours…

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