I listen to audiobooks now more than I read in the static, sit with a book kind of way, purely because it can be done during parts of the day when I am otherwise engaged. This means I have to concentrate really hard on the language when I am driving, or ironing, or walking. On certain routes of my morning run, come pivotal parts of stories, and now when I revisit those places, the words of those writers still ring in my ears.
I listened to the audiobook of ‘Three Women’ by Lisa Taddeo, a complex work written after the author spent eight years immersed in the stories of three women in America, exploring the complexities of their sexual desires, and their relationships. It’s not aways what it seems, the myriad factors of female sexual desire are presented in an almost-too-much manner, mirroring that exact moment when something feels almost too much. The way in which this book saunters between the tales of the women works particularly well for audio, notably because Mena Suvuri reads one part so evocatively. The idea that women are open about what they want is a fallacy; it exposes a hidden inner life to the one women present to the world, because so many female sensibilities have been suggested, through decades, generations, centuries of societal behaviour. By the way, I have written more in depth about this on my Patreon page, for those readers who wish to subscribe.
The flip side of this is that I am also reading ‘The Descent of Man’ by Grayson Perry, which I am doing in old fashioned form. This is short, densely clever polemic on the concept of masculinity. Grayson Perry, who is known for being an artist, for cross-dressing and I suppose, for being married to Philippa Perry the psychologist. So rarely are men known for the woman they are married to – more often the other way around. This book is something I dip into, usually when I am killing time on the train or in a coffee shop, and it houses concepts which again, are almost too much to take. He unpicks with deft and clarity the ways in which we accept gender principles in society that have been passed down for hundreds, if not thousands of years. Blew my mind.
My writing has been split into weighty (gender politics and memoir), and light (the book with ‘fuck’ in the title) and I love the contrast. After oh-so-many-years of procrastinating about what to write, it’s becoming more clear, and I see it’s true what every motivational Instagram site says in quotes: some shit has to go down in your life before you sort yourself out. Get forward propulsion. Learn. Open yourself up. Trust the cosmic universe. Whatever the hell it is. I note that for me, it’s coming together in words, as I suppose I always suspected, or hoped it might.
I also note that the influence of podcasts is becoming pervasive. People now talk, referring to what they have heard in podcasts, or at least I find that amongst conversations I overhear. The candour with which podcast guests speak when in conversation is the key; it’s not the same as being interviewed for TV or radio. It is a medium entirely different and as such, it gives a perspective which feels shared, and willing, rather than forced or monitored. Favourites for revelation are How to Fail, The High Low, Happy Place, Esther Perel, So Lucky by Dawn O’Porter (newly launched).
I guess with podcasts you need never be entirely alone, there is always someone to listen to and be ‘with’. But for me it’s about the openness. When writing, it is that route into consciousness that matters. For reader (or listeners) to either learn something new, or to recognise something known.
Otherwise life is spent in a series of days working it out, and gently avoiding the prospect of Christmas which looms large every year, but this year in particular. I already have a slight longing to be half way through January, or in next June, or even next December, when maybe life might have regulated. But then, with that regulation may come the procrastination again, so I should make the best of the decisiveness that exists now.