Lucia Berlin’s style is something I have puzzled over. Sometimes it reads like a really good voiceover in a road movie, from an era when they let auteurs do anything and the desert is photographed like a woman’s thigh and Harry Dean Stanton plays the grandpa. Other times it sounds translated, by someone shyer and more serious than Berlin. Sometimes it is monosyllabic – a tendency towards shorthand that seems both from the future and from the 1950s. There is a hinky flow that is almost never disrupted; her semicolons read like commas; it is the rhythm of a city, which encompasses everything from industrial belches down to twig-footed birds. There are writers who know the bus schedule and those who don’t. She aimed for clarity, directness, but clarity from strange people still sounds strange. More
The internet hasn’t so much changed people’s relationship to news as altered their self-awareness in the act of reading it. Before, we were isolated recipients of the news; now, we are self-consciously members of groups reacting to news in shared ways. Marvellously, this facilitates solidarity for the truly oppressed, for campaigners, for those with minority interests. But it also means that the paranoid, the suspicious, the xenophobic and the conspiracy-minded know they’re not alone. They’re conscious of themselves as a collective, as an audience, weeping, cheering, heckling and screaming from the safety of the darkness over the stalls, occasionally pulling on a mask to jump onto the stage and pull down the trousers of the performers or to start a false panic that the theatre is on fire. More
VIDEO 'Russia without Putin'
AUDIO What would it be like?