Three other depressing stories: Sheng Keyi's story (trans. Eric Abrahamsen) 'An Inexperienced World' in the latest HEAT (the beginning of which is available, Jonathan points out in the comments, online
—thanks, Jonathan!). Something depressing about this being the first item in the issue, but mainly it's the story itself. It's about a women 'well past thirty and possessed of a certain experience of life', which suggests to me that the author might well be under
thirty ('born in the 1970s' says an online bio) or just on the cusp of it. I seem to have recently read quite a lot of stories by young writers, male and female - but it's particularly distressing from young women - that are essentially about feelings of revulsion for the state of middle age, and a particular contempt for middle-aged women. This one seems to think that middle age is all about mourning for lost youth, lost vitality, lost sexual attractiveness, that those losses sit centre stage in the woman's mind and render her almost incapable of interacting with 'normal' (generally younger, or male) people. It's like those scenes in Hollywood movies that are young studio executives' imaginings of how established couples relate: they're bored solid with each other, and the woman is pathetic because she's not the young beauty her husband married, and any affectionate behaviour he can demonstrate towards her is to be regarded as a great kindness of his in the face of his own loss. That Julie Christie/Alzheimer's movie seemed to stink of that. Away From Her
. Anyway, read the 'An Inexperienced World' and tell me what you think.
I woke up at 2.30 am last night and couldn't get back to sleep, so I took my book light and 10 Short Stories you MUST Read
and read on the couch for a while. Robert Drewe and Peter Temple. Two stories about middle-aged men behaving poorly, which was depressing enough in itself - I suspect they might have been meant to be mordantly funny
- but the casual way that the women were presented, either as trophies or viragos... Did anyone else get the irrits at this?
Yairs, should stop now. The Harriet Evans article is via @tansyrr.