Three cheers for Anne Tyler

anne tyler    Interviewed recently in the Sunday Times, Anne Tyler responded to criticisms that not enough happens in her books. She commented:

“I have noticed as a woman writer … that an event like war is considered a more real literary subject than just a wedding. I feel so sort of ‘Oh, I’m so sorry I haven’t been to war.’ Then I think, no. What motivates me when I’m writing is that I’m actually awed over and over again just by the fact that people manage to endure. Just that. They have nothing particularly to look forward to, and some of them have really hard and humdrum lives, and they go along.

I mean, it’s a miracle, if you think about it – that we’re all putting one foot in front of another is a miracle. To walk down the street and practically every person walking towards me, for instance, has had a huge loss. You know? I’m just so interested that it’s possible.”

Thank you Anne for some of the most cheering and motivating words I’ve read in a long while.

The voices of our generation


I’ve only just caught up with The Daily Telegraph’s list of the 60 greatest female singer-songwriters of all time (well, if they will publish in December when there’s so much else going on…) There’s  nothing like a list for stirring up controversy but this time, with Joni Mitchell headlining and Kate Bush in second place, there’s not much for me to argue with.

Okay, on my list, Joan Armatrading would have been number 3 with Tracey Chapman, Sade and KT Tunstall ranked much, much higher than they are. But that’s nitpicking

Just reading down the names, I’m reminded of how all these women have said something so important, so memorable, so gut-wrenchingly appropriate about what it is like to be female that any one of them deserves a place in literary, as well as musical, history. These women are the poets of our time and if ever I came to write an autobiography, every bit of it could be framed within their phrasing.

By the way, I’m blown away to see that this March in my old hometown (Wellington, New Zealand) Joni Mitchell songs feature in what sounds like a fabulous homage: Both Sides Now – part of the 2016 New Zealand Festival.