I mostly read The Breakup Monologues: The Unexpected Joy of Heartbreak over the course of one weekend, author and comedian Rosie Wilby’s conversational stage persona making it easily digestible and impossible to put down on a sunny weekend with few commitments. Mirroring the non-linear nature of breakups, the book flits back and forth in time, marked B.G. (Before Girlfriend) and A.G. (After Girlfriend). Using ever-changing vocabulary to describe a number of different ‘ghosting’ methods, the book delves into Wilby’s dating and breakup history, alongside incredulous anecdotes from others. The driving point of the book, inspired by the podcast of the same name, is that each breakup can teach us something. Despite this, the romantic in me can’t help but hope that Wilby, equipped with the knowledge and experience of past relationships, might find a happy ever after with Girlfriend. With this mixed sense of hope and impending doom, the book itself mirrors the structure of an uncertain relationship.
August saw the five-year anniversary of Lauren Kaye’s ‘I’m All In’, a poetry collection described as a ‘seductive collection of romantic and sensual poems that speak on the inevitable episodes of love, sex and relationships’. The occasion was marked on social media – at a time where artists are forced to be more resourceful than ever when the stage is taken away. As Kaye outlines in the introduction, her poetry ‘is written much how I speak’, and it is best to have seen her live or see live videos so you can then hear her voice as you read coming through the pages.
A tall hill of turquoise, gendered cooing and guffawing, chainmail crop tops, and dance-fights with mops, performed to the sound of nineties nostalgia: Lizzy Shakespeare and Michelle Madsen, together known as Bait Theatre, effectively wield experimental drama to tear through the fanciful tropes of traditional fairy-tale femininity.
On a recent trip to Mexico, I decided to take with me three books by authors of Latin American heritage, including two of Mexican background, and one Cuban. All were women. Aside from eating the most delicious chimichangas, learning about the ancient Mayan ruins, and climbing up the Ixmoja part of the Nohoch Mul, I spent a lot of my time reading these authors by the sea with a strawberry daiquiri. Within just one week I had nearly consumed them all and discovered a new love of Latin American writing.
If you’ve seen Rosie Wilby on stage, or come across some of her recent articles, you may be aware of her exploration of monogamy and non-monogamy in relationships. This complex issue is the focus of her new book: Is Monogamy Dead? A provocative title in itself, as a book that is part memoir and part research, it succeeds in its aims to both entertain and critique traditional relationship models. As a stand-up comic, Wilby has appeared at many festivals from Glastonbury to Edinburgh, and there are many stories in the book that have me laughing out loud. Yet, as with the best comedic work, it succeeds in not only being humorous but is also delivered with real poignancy.
A bolshy child running through a busy village, a nanny calls after her. Racing, they pass people conducting business, chatting, carrying linen, selling wares. The responsible guardian calls after the child carrying chaos in their wake; futile exclamations for them to stop and return to their studies. Refusing they rush rambunctiously, weaving in between villagers; who take notice. We take notice.
This scene is composed of women. Upon arrival at their apparent destination the child lashes fists and feet in the air, an indignant display of fighting. Determined to take part, the camera pans to show us the source of the excitement. Women warriors wrangle tacitly dropped shields from atop horses, all spin kicks and slaying swords that clash furiously, deadly blows dealt with gravity defying deft and ridiculous displays of battle prowess in all its slow motion glory. Child Wonder Woman is awash with awe and envy as we, the audience process our thoughts.
This is so fucking cool.
by Alex Valente
A quick preface to the following, which also serves as a way to convince myself that I am … allowed to write about this, rather than the Bologna protests, or the political mess in Rome, or the current turmoil on the Italian left-of-centre party PD, or the upcoming women’s general strike. Those are things at the front of my mind – but I will take this week to find a little glimmer of beauty in a sea of constantly rising anger, instead.
Enter then, one of the two films I saw this year that made me think about language, and how we use it, and how it is used in the media. The other is Arrival, and so much has been written about it already, I decided to focus on Makoto Shinkai’s gorgeous animated film 君の名は (‘Kimi no na wa’), released in English as Your Name.
(Content warning: mention of sexual assault)
I’m sure you’ve all noticed the Valentine’s Day gifts and cards that seem to be everywhere at the moment. Like Christmas, it’s almost impossible to avoid. When I got outside I can barely move for all the soppy rom-coms, chocolates and flowers that are being bandied about. And all of them carry connotations of sex.
I picked this book up on my travels from a Silent Meditation Retreat in Ubud, Bali. Reading a good book is like meditation for those of us whose minds won’t shut up. It’s something I know I should do more, especially as an English Literature graduate and as a writer. But in the age of social media, I find myself clicking on different articles deep into the night instead. That said, a good writer will keep you hooked enough to pull you away from such distractions.
I had read John Green’s The Fault In Our Stars, which rightfully brought him to critical acclaim (as well as a film deal). An Abundance of Katherines was first published ten years ago, but is seeing a revival now that Green is a bestselling author. I felt excited to start reading it, and I enjoyed it so much that I made sure I had a copy waiting for me when I returned home, in between jetting off to Spain, where I’m now living.
He types my name in for a password
but it isn’t long enough
so he uses seawater instead.