Footnotes to Sex by Mia Farlane
It’s hard to write engagingly about banality: Alison Moore does it beautifully and now, I’ve discovered, Mia Farlane does it too. Humour helps, and both of these authors can make me laugh out loud (an extremely rare consequence of my reading). But there’s depth and poignancy also. This novel isn’t only about fandom, procrastination and the silence that speaks volumes in many long-term couplings, it’s also about the pain of lacking the confidence to know what you want. I think there are more people who struggle with this than the hero’s journey model, so beloved of creative writing courses, would have us believe.
I missed this novel when it was published by Penguin in 2009 but, having connected with the author at one of this crazy summer’s webinars, I thought I’d have a quiet peek. I’m delighted I don’t have to keep quiet about what I thought of it: I’ve added it to my list of 2020’s favourite reads.
 From lockdown hair to Buxton Fringe
 Like Alison Moore’s He Wants
 Having protested against this for years, I'm 75% converted. See last year's blog post Desperately seeking elixir?
Laura Laura by Richard Francis
Gerald’s specialism, partly borrowed from his physicist friend, is quantum mechanics applied to history: the idea that, if the multiverse exists, there must be an infinite number of alternative histories in which anything that could happen did happen. As Gerald remembers and misremembers his past, and discovers surprising things about his long marriage and his closest friend, the world, and his place within it, seems more of a puzzle than ever.
This is a fun novel, comic and witty, although in places – and this might be due to the mood I was in when I read it – the humour crept into farce and the linguistic gymnastics put the narrative on pause. On the serious side, it poses questions about memory and forgetting and how we edit our own lives into a strand that makes sense. Thanks to publishers Europa editions for my review copy.
I’ll leave you with one of my more light-hearted stories about coupledom, “In Search of Mr Right”, from my collection on the theme of identity, Becoming Someone.