Why I’m Rather Quiet

I haven’t been posting as much as I usually do, because I’ve had one or two books to read for the magazine.


The pile on the left are the ones awaiting review, the pile on the right are the ones I still need to read and then review. By the end of June. Ye-es, that’s what I think, too. Some of them I requested on behalf of SNB from publishers (which has made publishers more willing than normal to send me books) and some of them are my own copies. But we won’t mention that to Mr Litlove, right? That’s just between us. I’ve read some wonderful books though – in particular a memoir of a writer’s first job at a literary agency where the prize client was J. D. Salinger, and the most surprisingly twisty portrait of grief from an American novelist. More about those on the 1st July when our next edition comes out.

If you’re wondering about the outrageously pretty sofa they are resting on, yes, it is new. We had a makeover of the study when our old brown leather chairs more or less fell apart. Here’s a better picture of it:


When it first arrived (and there was some doubt whether we could get it through the door – it’s certainly not going anywhere ever again), it was wrapped up in a huge plastic bag, tied with a cord at one end. Oh the urge I had to keep it safely nestled in plastic! Mr Litlove comes in all sawdusty from his workshop, or sweaty from rowing and throws himself down on it, at which point I make him get up and change before he is allowed to sit down again. The cat, who is rather elderly these days and jumps onto soft furnishings with a wince-inducing scrabble of claws, has been banished. The one evening he snuck in, he lay on the sofa in the most ridiculous position, front legs stretched out as far as they would go as if to cover as much surface area as possible. He has not been invited back. My favourite thing to do is to shut all the doors to the study and then look at it through the panes of glass. Oh I know it won’t be long before we’re sitting on it to eat our dinner and lying with our feet up, if we can get the cat to give us a bit of space. But for the moment, I am trying to preserve its exquisite newness.

One final thing: the last ever critical essay I wrote has recently been published online. It’s about the work of Gabriel Josipovici, an author I love who isn’t well known enough in this country, and on whom a special journal edition has been put together. My essay is called The Cost of Creativity in the Work of Gabriel Josipovici, and is about the way his poignant relationship to his mother has influenced his books. If you click through to the journal, you’ll find there are all sorts of other fantastic essays on his writing.

Back with reviews later in the week.


57 thoughts on “Why I’m Rather Quiet

  1. The couch and the study are gorgeous! I want to get new furniture but am afraid the cat will pick at it and the dog will shed on it. I’ll be very interested to hear what you think of The Faraway Nearby. I just got it from the library and hope I can get it read before I have to return it. I think it’s on a wait list so I can’t renew. That’s am impressive stack of books and equally impressive library.

    • Ah yes, that is the problem with animals – they aren’t great at taking in explanations about paws on the furniture! I do hope we get to compare notes on The Faraway Nearby. It will be a couple of weeks before I get to it – you know why!

  2. Truly a lovely sofa! I know exactly what you mean about ancient cats – my 20-year-old still insists on jumping from one to the other via a gap of a foot or so. Always a lookaway moment.

  3. Oh that pile of books! Oh my, that sofa! Two good things that go great together! You need a velvet rope to hang across the sofa with a little sign that says “reserved seating” so you can be the only one to sit on it πŸ™‚

    Yay for Josipovici! I probably won’t get to the article until this weekend but I am looking forward to reading it!

  4. What a beautiful gray loveseat! I’m terribly jealous. I was pining over a loveseat recently in a lovely oatmeal color, even though I have no use for such a piece of furniture, as my living room is currently constituted.

    • In all honesty, I’ve wanted a new sofa for years, and had to wait until our old chairs were absolutely falling to pieces. I sort of get delayed gratification, but I am wondering why I waited so long. I get great furniture lust at times and really, I need to figure out quicker how to use whatever I’m lusting after.

  5. A lovely place to read and a lovely pile of books. My dog has the same attitude towards sofas as your cat – and has been known to nudge books off it, but as its fairly elderly I don’t have the heart to book her off.

    • You are kind! My cat knocks books off tables and chairs to get attention when he thinks it is teatime (he’s usually early by several hours) and gets put outside. You are much nicer than I am. πŸ™‚

  6. Oh how I understand the hazards of sharing a sofa with a pet…!
    Good luck with all the reading/reviewing – I don’y know HOW you squeeze it all in. Thank goodness you have a lovely new sofa to collapse on… it looks divinely comfortable!

    • When we ordered it, I didn’t know I’d have quite so much reviewing to do! But it is lovely and comfortable and a very good place to read. I’m looking forward so much to reading your review for us, too!

  7. I want that room!!! How desirable it looks. Just need a few more shelves adding for my downstairs collection to fit. In truth my chair is on the way out or down so I am contemplating a change after the summer. Looks like you have a few days’ reading there – good luck.

    • Ah the moment is approaching for new furniture! You are welcome to come and sit on my sofa, though Mr Litlove might complain about you adding more shelves. πŸ˜‰ You have my full permission to stop me if you catch me saying yes to this many reviews in the future!

  8. The last time a new sofa was bought for this house it was commandeered by The Bears and I only get to sit on it if invited. Mind you, they are not allowed in my reading chair.

  9. That sofa is Gorgeous! I would lock everyone else out (including poor kitty) and take it all for myself….let’s face it you know you are going to appreciate it more than anyone else in the household anyway, right?! πŸ™‚ I want that room, too. What a lovely pile of books–first reaction–though knowing there is the added pressure of reading them for review and having to write about them very soon, does put things into a different perspective altogether. I started reading the memoir about the the literary agent and it is very good indeed–I requested a galley copy but it was a digital one and has Expired (drat!) so now I eagerly await my library copy. Looking forward to hearing about all those lovely books–I have a few on my own wishlist, too! And thanks for the Josipovici link–I keep meaning to read him.

    • You are so right! I AM the person who appreciates it most! see, you understand perfectly. πŸ™‚ I did rather overdo it on the review front this time around, and have added more pressure than is pleasant….. I really am going to turn over a new leaf for the next edition and I know I said this last time, but this time I mean it… And I’m so glad you enjoyed the beginning of the memoir. I would love to compare notes with you when you have your library copy to hand!

  10. It is a lovely sofa in a lovely room, and I like seeing it in its pristine condition! Also glad to hear you are writing and getting published.
    Of course I approve of your feeling that eventually you will let the cat in. I would have probably already acquiesced to that inevitability, no matter how pretty the furniture.

    • Well it’s going to happen eventually. My cat is black and white and campaigning quite hard that he looks extra adorable against a background of duck egg blue. We’ll see how he gets on with that. πŸ™‚

  11. This is still making me laugh: ‘My favourite thing to do is to shut all the doors to the study and then look at it through the panes of glass.’

    I love the whole room and am packing my bags right now…

    • Heh, you do make me smile! Though you realise of course, that living here means having to deal with an impossible, miserable 19 year-old son. If you fancy taking him on, you can move in immediately! πŸ™‚

  12. This is one lovely sofa! Knowing me my cats would be on it anyway. But they aren’t of the scratching kind. But I’d be looking in and just admire it as well. It’s so new and shiny and pristine.
    In all honesty – I don’t envy your pile of books. It reminds me of the time when I was working or an editor. as lovely as being paid for reading and reviewing was for a while – it spolit a lot of the fun. I hope you can still skip those you don’t want to read.
    I’m looking forward to read your thoughts on them.

    • I am such a sucker for the brand-new stage – if only it lasted forever! And yes, I did take on rather too many books for this edition. Hopefully now I have learned my lesson and will be more circumspect next time around!

  13. I know that feeling about new furniture. You should see me at our house in Maine, which is full of new furniture, and I just want to walk in the door and do nothing but stand and stare at it. I’ve become very fussy about things like coasters and eating only at the table whenever possible. I suppose it would probably be a good thing is something got a little scratched or dirty, so I’d relax a little more. BTW, the books certainly look like they’re nice and comfy. Maybe you could just invite them to stay permanently, because they certainly won’t do any damage to the sofa.

    • I am a tyrant about eating at the table at the moment! So I know exactly what you mean, and you’re quite right it’s exhausting. I always feel with a new car that I need a scratch on it, or else driving it around is too tense an activity. Ooh a whole house full of new furniture sounds absolutely delicious, though. Does it come with shelves full of new books? It’s lovely to have you visit! Hope all is good with you and that you’re blogging more again.

  14. Lovely, lovely sofa! But, oh, Victoria – you are wicked with all those books! I deliberately made myself say no to lots of things. Now I feel lazy!

  15. ha ha! I love your description of how you are with your new sofa! I feel like I’m that way with a lot of my new things. I remember being terrified when I bought my first car and was driving it from the dealership in Virginia back to my home in Maryland, and I had to take the Washington D.C. Beltway. I felt like all the drivers around me were too close and too fast. And then I would like looking out the window of my home at the car, and know that I owned it. (It was a used silver Corolla, nothing special, but it was my first car and I was 25, and consequently very grateful to have said car.)

    The memoir by person who worked at a literary agency sounds interesting. I am usually intrigued by “work” memoirs.

    • I feel exactly the same about new cars! Parking a new one is a dreadfully anxious business, but it is lovely to think you own one. And yes, I hadn’t thought about the category of work memoirs, but you’re right – they are extra interesting.

      • That’s pretty incredible–well done! I’m very impressed with your blog. It’s not only full of fascinating posts, but aesthetically pleasing as well.

      • Thank you, that’s really kind! You catch me at a more disorganised time than usual, due to the next edition of the magazine I’m editing (with three others), Shiny New Books. When that’s gone live, I will have more attention and energy for the blog again!

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