When I was in the ambivalent early stages of my love affair with Proust, wondering whether it was worth the commitment, well-meaning friends would advise that ʻlifeʼs too shortʼ. A year later and t… Read article
Last summer, belly full of unborn kid, I went for a plodding sort of walk with my mother round her neighbourhood. We circled the streets, the patch of London where she’s lived for nearly 50 years, w… Read article
‘Did you just get engaged to break into an office?’ a scandalised Watson asks Sherlock in the latest episode of the BBC’s current adaptation of Conan Doyle’s stories. ‘His Last Vow’ ingeni… Read article
The bird flew in through the half open window. It hopped from the bathroom sink to the taps, then back to the sink again, moving its head and neck mechanically. ‘Don’t’, I thought, ‘please don… Read article
"If you went too near the edge of the chalk pit the ground would give way. Barney had been told this often enough. Everybody had told him. Barney had a feeling, somewhere in his middle, that it was pr… Read article
We tell our dreams in an effort to interpret them. By voicing the visions that come to us in the night, we believe that we can begin to unravel the threads of fear and desire woven into nighttime enco… Read article
After Movie Night, my boyfriend and I do role-play. The first Movie Night was about a year ago at our friend Bill’s house. Bill’s theme was 70s sci-fi: we watched THX 1138, a pre-Star Wars George… Read article
I live in the Autonomous Republic of Karakalpakstan. You probably will not have heard of Karakalpakstan. It is considered ‘the world’s most obscure ’Stan’. It took me about two months of livi… Read article
Growing up in America, I spent a good amount of my time reading British literature. Roald Dahl, E. Nesbit and Phillip Pullman were constant companions through my childhood, later replaced by Keats, El… Read article
There is something particularly funereal in looking, as I am now, at Marcel Duchamp's urinal, or rather – since the original is lost – a 1964 replica placed reverently under a box of museum glass.… Read article
I wonder how many hours I’ve spent looking out of windows. Stitched together, they would stretch into weeks, perhaps months. Into the human harmony Windows are points of connection between interio… Read article
Here is the tenth issue of The Junket. It collects together 12 pieces of writing. In ‘Somnambulations’, Kristen Treen’s thrilling account of her night terrors, she wonders if it is right to piece together any sense or meaning from her dreams. I wonder the same about this editorial note: to ‘add narrative’ (to use a phrase from Marianne Morris’ brilliant poem) to this intentionally capricious collection of literary junkets feels like a very artificial exercise. I have put together this issue without any more logic than asking 12 good writers for some writing.
And yet. Why are there so many parallels between these pieces? Why do so many of them tug at identity, borders, wild spaces? There are no glass ceilings, but why are there so many windows?
In her article about pleaching, Sophie Elmhirst peers into the windows and gardens of Notting Hill to find an uncanny world where ancient horticulture frames 21st-century plutocracy. The narrator of Lilian Cameron’s short story, ‘Window’, is on the other side of a pane, gripped by a slowly mounting obsession with what might fly through it. Emily Rhodes’ piece is all about windows: the way we look out of them, the pictures they frame, the borders they create. She talks about Mrs Dalloway, a book in which the French windows that are ‘taken off their hinges’ on the very first page serve as a metaphor for a greater sort of opening; and it is tempting to draw a connection between Virginia Woolf’s exploration of what it does or doesn’t mean to be ‘unhinged’, and the exploration of identity in so many of these pieces.
Naomi Wood’s very funny short story ‘Movie Night’ imagines how an unlikely series of role-plays might shape a personality, while Caroline Williams – who asks what it means to see Marcel Duchamp’s urinal behind glass – longs nostalgically for the artist’s drag persona, Rrose Sélavy, to reappear. Emma Bielecki’s fascinating article traces the way in which 19th-century developments in biometrics and forensic identification left their mark on French detective fiction of the period, and considers the ramifications that classification had on the very concept of identity.
Borders and boundaries appear again in Helen Jukes’ memoir, ‘Stig of the Dump’. She remembers how exciting it was to cross them, and reflects on the importance of transgression in forming our sense of self: how much we need to adventure into wild spaces. In ’A Vanishing Sea’, the retreating shoreline of the Aral Sea tells a far sadder story of the shifting boundaries between humans and their environment. Where Sophie Elmhirst sees the endurance of nature, Emily Wise sees its inevitable demise.
While Carrie Pitt’s humorous essay looks for the meaning of ‘x’, Kate Donmall writes about the ways in which our brains construct meaning: ‘Talking Time’ describes the slow rewriting of sense and identity in her work as a child psychotherapist. I hope that your hotly firing neural pathways will construct new narratives from this curious miscellany, just as dreams reassemble the imaginative detritus of the mind. At the very least I hope that unlike Kristen Treen’s nightmares, these reveries bring you pleasure.
List of Contributors
Emma Bielecki teaches and researches 19th-century French literature at the University of Oxford.
Lilian Cameron is a writer and researcher in the arts currently living in London.
Kate Donmall is a trainee psychoanalytic child and adolescent psychotherapist working in the NHS.
Sophie Elmhirst is the features editor of the New Statesman. She also writes for Harper's Bazaar, the Financial Times, Aeon, Five Dials and the Observer. @sophieelmhirst
Helen Jukes lives on the Sussex coast and works for a small charity based in Lewes.
Marianne Morris lives in Oakland, California. Her first collection, The On All Said Things Moratorium, is published by Enitharmon Press in the UK. @mannemo
Emily Rhodes is a writer, bookseller, and inventor of Emily's Walking Book Club. @EmilyBooksBlog
Kristen Treen is working on a doctoral thesis about American Civil War literature and material culture at the University of Cambridge. @MissTreen
Caroline Williams is a director and performer. She is currently artistic associate at Yard Theatre. @rannygazool
Emily Wise is a specialist registrar in infectious diseases and general internal medicine. In November 2012 she went to work as a doctor on a multi-drug resistant tuberculosis programme in Karakalpakstan, Uzbekistan for the medical humanitarian aid organisation Médecins Sans Frontières. @DrEmilyWise