I’m really enjoying collections of essays at the moment. I like the feeling of sitting listening to a wise friend expounding on all sorts of things with wit and insight, and bringing their unique perspective to things you thought you knew about and things you’d never thought about. Zadie Smith’s Changing my mind was such a read and this is too. I shall seek out more.
The first half is mainly pieces on reading and writing, with some interesting notes about the history of literacy, genre fiction, gender, the publishing industry and other bookish topics, along with some personal memoirs on domestic architecture, abortion, and becoming a writer. It’s hugely pleasurable to witness her great mind range over all sorts of subjects; wonderful insight, wonderfully expressed. Her generally good-humoured tone disappears altogether when discussing the commercial publishing; fortunately her withering scorn is just as enjoyable as her genial bon mots. My interest petered out after that. The rest of the volume is book reviews, mainly SF and fantasy which I’m not that into, so I only skimmed these, but still enjoyed basking in her great intelligence and deep humanity.