No Complaints #103: Athill, Auteurs and Animation

The two things that I do on the internet that I enjoy most are this newsletter and my podcast, SRSLY. In both cases, I can hit “publish” on a new edition or episode and know that people who actually want to receive it are on the other end of that click, and that if something I’ve said sparks a thought or question for them, they will write me a nice email or tweet or message and we can discuss it. I don’t have this confidence with other forms of digital publication. It turns out that I’m very far from the only person to feel this way – NC subscriber Helen Thomas wrote a great piece for Stylist last week that interviews lots of other women who find newsletters like this a more joyful way of sharing what they’re thinking and reading and doing. Have a read of it, and if you know someone who might like to join in with all this reading and replying and discussing and enjoying that we’re doing here, forward it to them as well.

Things to read

“Now I understood why the tickets were never paid: most of these Lisa Davises had, in some way, disappeared. They had given fake addresses or moved, and they were skirting the law – their own version of justice – however they could. I would never find them.”

I have my own, far less interesting, identity twin, so I was fascinated by this piece. Email to Pocket.


“But the NASA video also taps into something that goes beyond scientific discovery or Saturn. The public mourning of Cassini serves as another example of the complicated relationship between humans and machines, and of the tendency of humans to anthropomorphise robots and care about them.”

How do we say goodbye to a space robot? Email to Pocket.


“One need only consider Kidman’s vanity-free supporting appearance in last year’s Lion, alight quickly on Moulin Rouge! and The Others and go all the way back to her breakout roles in Dead Calm and Days of Thunder to appreciate the rigour and expressive range of an actress who can easily hold her own with the Meryl Streeps, Viola Davises and Cate Blanchetts of the world but is rarely mentioned in their company.”

Is Nicole Kidman a great, underappreciated auteur? I mean, maybe. Email to Pocket.


“There was no sign of that hidden feeling of being a failure, none at all. I was OK. From then on, I was a happy person. It was quite a long time I thought that healing was the only thing that made me write. But if you're writing that kind of thing, there is absolutely no point in doing it unless you try to get it exactly as it really was. That makes you prepared to say anything. People say, ‘How can you admit to things that are so shaming or so upsetting?’ It was no problem at all. I had to do it because that was part of the procedure.”

I love Diana Athill very very much and this is a nice (albeit quite short) interview with her. Email to Pocket.


“Here’s the thing: I don’t doubt that Wallace is a genius. And it’s not that I believe there’s no value in self-indulgent works by men. It’s just that I’m not very interested in them. These men seem to think I’m saying the thing they love is bad, when really I’m just saying I don’t care about the thing they love.”

I too have never read Infinite Jest, or indeed any David Foster Wallace, because of the kind of men who incessantly recommend his work. Email to Pocket.


Things to listen to

Call Your Girlfriend is one of those podcasts that remains in my permanent rotation, week in, week out, so I probably take it a bit for granted and don’t praise it as much as I should because it’s just so consistently good. But I wanted to break out of this habit for their episode 88 – The Businesswoman Special – and suggest that you all go and listen to it now. If you have even a passing interest in how the money side of podcasts works, or how to take something you do for fun with your friends and turn it into a real business, you’ll really enjoy it.


Things to watch

What would a millennial hoarder look like?

Umberto Eco’s library.


Things to attend

A couple of upcoming IRL things I’m doing:

22 April, Cambridge (tomorrow!) – A talk at the Cambridge Literary Festival with Susan Elderkin and Ella Berthoud to talk about fiction in troubled times and the “novel cure”. Tickets here.

2 May, London – A panel with Olly Mann of Answer Me This! and Jason Phipps of the Guardian talking about “how to launch and grow a successful podcast”. More details and tickets here.

9 May, London – The next SRSLY quiz is in honour of the third series of Twin Peaks, and it’s taking place at The Book Club in Shoreditch. Expect extremely hard questions, good food and possibly log-based costumes. Tickets here.


Compulsory medieval thingamabob

Hold your giant grey lion close tonight.


The guest gif

This election campaign is going to be awful, I expect. Find your otter(s) and don’t let go.

If you have a suggestion for something I should look at, hit reply to this email or talk to me on Twitter.

If you like the newsletter or its website and want me to keep doing it, maybe think about giving me some money.

THE END. See you next time!