Much of this week was consumed by illness, which continues to nibble at my time and occasionally to gnaw huge chunks of it: I can’t get up in the morning, and want to spend all my afternoons sleeping. This week my ears were painful, aching the way they did when my brother and I were children and spent too much time in the water.
But among all the sleeping and dreaming there was also time for a snowy train trip down to Sheffield and back – to teach – and time to read some stories.
39: ‘Defender of the Faith’ by Philip Roth (1959)
40: ‘Ashes’ by Cristina Henriquez (2006)
41: ‘A Fire at Sea’ by Turgenev (1883)
42: ‘Super Goat Man’ by Jonathan Lethem (2004)
43: ‘The Imposter’ by Nathaneal West (c. 1931)
44: ‘The Sins of the Wolf’ by Lasha Bugadze (2010)
45: ‘Bella-Vista’ by Colette (1937)
46: ‘Helix’ by Banana Yoshimoto (1993)
47: ‘Golden Land’ by William Faulkner (1935)
48: ‘The Real Thing’ by Diana Athill (1958)
Reading a story a day is a good discipline for me, I think, as well as introducing me to new writers and making me delve deeper into the work of writers I think I know. It means I have to read some obscure things by writers with whom I’m quite familiar; it also means I’m addressing some horrible gaps in my reading. I mean, I should have read ‘Bella-Vista,’ one of Colette’s most famous stories, by now. (How late it was, how late.)
All this sleeping has brought with it some strange dreams featuring famous people. In one, a surly Steve Coogan threatened me with legal action if I continued writing my own Alan Partridge scripts to entertain my friends; he even sent Rob Brydon over to warn me off. In another, I suspected Everton manager David Moyes of planning to murder me. These dreams of malign public figures may relate to something I’ve been plotting for a while, a blog ‘written’ by Jane Shore, the protagonist of Trendy But Casual. Jane is still a publicist, but these days she has a number of very famous clients. Maybe I’m worried about the trouble Jane’s indiscreet revelations may cause. Like the time Kierkegaard said bad things about Hegel and Goethe, and they sent Rob Brydon over to warn him off.
'In the Land of Dreamy Dreams' is the title of the first story collection by Ellen Gilchrist, by the way, which I encourage you to seek out.