A Persian Cafe, Edward Lord Weeks

Monday, 9 November 2015

Reading the Best of 2015: Part Three

(Previous installments)

Trump, Card by William Germano is vaguely interesting, but I have no idea what it's doing on this list. Etymology is a surprisingly interesting subject, but it rarely gives you anything to think about or anything more than an interesting tidbit to take away. This essay is no exception.

Izabella Kaminska's Cryptic Bullet Points could not be any more of a contrast. It is not an essay, rather it is simply a list of blog posts that she lacks the time to write properly.

This is a kind of blogging which I am happy to endorse. I'm unlikely to practice it myself, because nowadays when I have a good idea I'm less likely to blog it than to put it on my list of "potential academic papers", but I'm glad that there are people who are giving us the opportunity to learn from them rather than hoarding their ideas.

Did I learn anything from the list? Not really, largely because I didn't really understand much of it. If the post was intended for anything even close to the average reader then this could be a problem, since (having studied economics for two years in undergrad) I probably know a fair bit more about the financial industry than most people. However, the average investor presumably knows a fair bit more than I do, so perhaps it would be more useful for them. Given that I still have 91 essays to read, I'm not going to take the time to find out.

The award for "most misleading title", at least of the articles so far, goes to Evan Ratliff's My Wife Found my Email in the Ashley Madison database. The article is not about the resulting struggle to repair his marriage, but rather about the various other Mr/Mrs E Ratliffs who enter his email when they log in to a variety of sites. As with many of these articles it's interesting; as with many I would not place it in the top 100 articles that I've read this year. Most of it is just short stories, flashes from the lives of people who, were it not for that shared initial and surname, would be perfect strangers to the author.

An article which very firmly does belong on this list is Rachel Ward's I'm Sorry I Didn't Respond to Your Email, My Husband Coughed to Death Two Years Ago. This piece is a (somewhat) light-hearted retrospective on her experiences of becoming and being a widow, presented in dialogue form. I'm not certain what this presentation adds to it - perhaps it's supposed to be quirky and characterful, but really there are many more people who believe themselves to be madcap pixies than there are actual madcap pixies.

The essay is both funny and serious, but above all it's unpretentious. Ward explains what she has learned and what has changed in her life as a result of her husband's passing, but she doesn't try to make it into anything that it's not.
[The nurse] told me I’d see him again, at the funeral, and that I should just focus on sleeping and eating. And then I said “I can’t believe it, he was such a good husband.”
And she said, “Yeah, but he did a shitty thing today.”
And that was the first time I laughed after Steve died.
It would be fair to describe this as my favourite essay so far.

No comments:

Post a Comment