Shirley Jackson: Raising Demons


A lovely little vignette of family life in Shirley Jackson’s Raising Demons:
Continue reading Shirley Jackson: Raising Demons


The Dictionary of Animal Languages: Heidi Sopinka

We meet Ivory Frame, the protagonist of Sopinka’s tale when she is aged ninety-two but still  receiving surprises from life. And what a life it’s been. Being at first passionate about painting she has devoted the greater part of her life to recording the languages of animals…before they all become extinct. Continue reading The Dictionary of Animal Languages: Heidi Sopinka

Irvin Yalom: Love’s Executioner

Irvin Yalom, one of the pioneers of Existential Therapy is in his eighties now but his zest for writing about his life and his encounters with patients continues unabated. In 2015 he wrote Creatures of a Day his title taken from the writings of Marcus Aurelius, ‘All of us are creatures of a day: the rememberer and the remembered alike. All is ephemeral-both memory and the object of memory.’. This book offers ten case studies of clients who came to him with particular problems, but ultimately Yalom sees their presenting fears and anxieties as an unavoidable part of the human condition. It is by accepting four hard truths about the nature of human life his patients come to terms with their pain. Continue reading Irvin Yalom: Love’s Executioner


The German language is famous for portmanteau words, none more popular than schadenfreude expressing the quite subtle emotion of joy in another’s misfortune, from schade meaning harm and freude meaning joy. But schadenfreude is not, to my mind, joy blasted from the rooftops, it is the secret little unworthy pang of pleasure we feel when our pompous boss chokes on his wine while holding forth at lunch, or our glamorous colleague comes back from the bathroom with her skirt caught up in her knickers. It is the also the way we feel when that moralising politician is caught with his pants down. Continue reading Schadenfreude

Jess Kidd: The Hoarder


I wade, tripping over boxes and piles of mildewing curtains, getting caught in cables, hooked on hat stands and assaulted by rutting ironing boards. I flounder over records, books, stained blankets, greasy collections of plastic bags, garden forks, antique mangles, a woman’s patent leather shoe and an unopened blender that also grates and peels. And cats, cats, cats.  (1) Continue reading Jess Kidd: The Hoarder