Reportage

A–Z of the Death Drive

You are an accident waiting to happen. You are a complete wreck. What is driving you to do this? Will the automobile (a fusion of libido and machine) ever lose meaning as a sexualized instrument to be controlled and mastered?

Katherine Would Approve

'It was my first full-time job in a long while. The chairman of the Katherine Mansfield Birthplace Society and the four paid staff were there, all in winter coats.'

Virginia Woolf in the Bomb-scarred City

'This was her grandest bid to bring something back from the ruins. She was not reading despite the bombs; she was reading with them, and the two – reading and bombs – are jumbled together in one of her last letters.'

Yates Lane, NW8

'Escapees from St Mary’s, Paddington: expectant father smoking; old lady wheeling herself in a wheelchair, smoking; die-hard holding urine sack, blood sack, smoking.'

A Very Practical Joke

'I watched as she stuffed three oil paintings packed in bubble wrap into her large duffel bag, along with twenty t-shirts. We were only going for three days.'

Annie Hall

'I can’t help feeling like he’s dismantled the very admirable legacy of his earlier work by his later, overly prolific efforts. It’s a more benign version of Ralph Nader.'

Out of Windows

'Last Halloween, a woman was thrown out of a fourth-floor window in Marylebone. I was heading back to my flat on Chiltern Street with the intention of watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, a film that I had always avoided.'

Diamonds in the Dark

'It is a secret, private, hidden world that operates under a strict set of unspoken internal laws: never screw a partner and once a deal is done it is a 'mazen brucha' and it must be adhered to.'

Syria Calling

A document from another time: Robin Yassin-Kassab's diary of his 2008 return journey to Syria, and a Damascus hazed by diesel fumes but still standing.

On Handwriting

'Only his handwriting seemed to locate him exactly, to ground his body in the act of writing and thinking and breathing; each stroke of the pen a black ink tether that tied me to him and him to me.'