Joan Didion’s 'Blue Nights'
When the Centre Cannot Hold
Along with many others, I was first drawn to Joan Didion when I read her 1967 essay ‘Slouching towards Bethlehem’. It presented a confession of her own precarious psychological state in intimate counterpoint with an astute analysis of the wider political scene: a combination that would become a Didion trademark. She had written it, she told us, at a time when she felt herself unable to wr
Meeting Lally Katz
Out of the Box
I’m very ambitious!” Lally Katz said, or rather shouted, confidentially, lowering her eyes toward her glass of Aglianico. She looked like a volunteer librarian being tempted to her very first drink by an ageing sleazeball. Then she looked up. “And I’m also quite good at getting what I want from people!” She contemplated the beautiful and ever so faintly amber liquid in the glass and
Although it is an everyday virus, there is something about influenza that inspires awe. This microscopic hard-shelled parcel of genetic matter lives in aquatic birds, which have been flying it around in first-class comfort for generations. It is coughed into the air – and across the species barrier – and lodges in the lungs of mammals such as pigs and humans, where it becomes the common flu, our most cited cause for staying home fro