17 June 2021, The Tablet

Lessons on life and literature


Guide Books
BBC Radio 4

The publicity for this three-part series (15-29 June), helmed by Damian Barr, canvassed the well-worn idea that “books might help us navigate everyday life”. You envisaged a kind of vade mecum of useful hints culled from great works of literature – Nancy Mitford on how to approach a love affair, say – but what emerged in the first tranche, in which Barr and his fellow writers Sarah Perry and Sinéad Gleeson discussed the physicality of bodies, struck a rather different note. It was their own books that were at stake, and the sometimes painful experience of writing them.

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