U. Sydney professor Vanessa Smith–author of Intimate Strangers, and also of this lovely short piece about Marion Milner–joins John to discuss her pandemic reading. She praises a Milner (quasi)travel book, but she also makes the case for M F K Fisher and a book about the glories of hypochondria.
Then the old friends share their newfound love for spiky Australian novelist Helen Garner, doyenne of share-house feminism.
Brian Dillon, “Tormented Hope: Nine Hypochondriac Lives“
Lytton Strachey, “Eminent Victorians” (about Florence Nightingale’s hypochondria and agoraphobia)
M. F. K. Fisher, “How to Cook a Wolf”
Helen Garner, “The Spare Room” (2008; rigorously honest about impending mortality)
Helen Garner, “The Childrens Bach” (1984; John and Vanessa planned a seminar on this one)
Helen Garner, “Monkey Grip” (1977; heroin, be the death of me….)
Listen to the episode here:
Read the Transcript here:
Upcoming Episodes: Next week, Paul Saint-Amour, Modernist to the stars (and the lucky students of U Penn) rhapsodizes about science fiction’s time travel metaphysics.