‘How strange it is. We have these deep terrible lingering fears about ourselves and the people we love. Yet we walk around, talk to people, eat and drink. We manage to function. The feelings are deep and real. Shouldn’t they paralyze us? How is it we can survive them, at least for a little while? We drive a car, we teach a class. How is it no one sees how deeply afraid we were, last night, this morning?’ – Don DeLillo, White Noise


  • In his 1985 novel, White Noise, Don DeLillo presented the American nation as a cluster of individuals, isolated and fearful. Novels like White Noise and Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow captured a national paranoia bred out of Cold War suspicion, Nixonian espionage and popular distrust of the state. In DeLillo’s Art of Fiction interview with the Paris Review, he explains, ‘Those were the days when the enemy was some presence seeping out of the government’. Sounds familiar · Paris Review


  • Leonard Cohen died this month at the age of 82. Before devoting his life to developing the golden voice he’s famous for, Cohen was a struggling Canadian novelist. After the dismal reception of his debut novel, The Favourite Game, Cohen retreated to the Greek island of Hydra to try again. In two eight-month spurts of amphetamine-fueled writing, he came up with the mystical and postmodern masterpiece Beautiful Losers. Here he is reading an excerpt · Youtube

  • Ariel Levy’s short memoir ‘Thanksgiving in Mongolia’ marries the grit of the war correspondent with the bare vulnerability of the diarist. Part of its power is the conjunction of the American holiday most associated with family and home and her experience of devastating emotional trauma while alone and abroad. The essay recounts Levy’s miscarriage, suffered when five months pregnant · New Yorker




  • If this year’s news has you wishing you could turn back time, we wouldn’t blame you for wanting to ‘Make Britain Great Again’ by returning to Shakespeare’s Renaissance England. But even if you did manage to make it back to the Bard’s day, his plays would sound entirely different. Luckily, David and Ben Crystal have put together a pronunciation guide for the Open University – listen to a little Henry V, here · Open University

Things I Never Told Her
Teaching After Trump