Farewell Joan Didion


The writer and social commentator, Joan Didion has left us for good on 23 December 2021. It is perhaps fitting that not long before Christmas she goes Slouching Towards Bethlehem, the title of her first work of non-fiction.

The Year of Magical Thinking is an astonishing work - remarkable insights into bereavement.

December Stories by Ian Sansom

I have thoroughly enjoyed this collection of short stories for December by Ian Sansom. My intention was to read just one story a day for the month; to get me in the mood for Christmas. The stories however are so captivating that I found myself reading on and so finished them after about a week.

They instil a mix of emotions: sympathy, humour, sadness and vulnerability. Despite the quick read some of these vignettes have found their sticking place and the simple everyday situations he writes about resonate with personal memories of feelings, thoughts and actions. So although ostensibly these accounts relate to the end of year festive season they also speak to the human situation and the business of getting on with life. They therefore would be immensely readable in other months of the year.

I have to mention one story in particular, Down By The River for 23 December.  It's one of the longer pieces in the volume and oddly when I started reading it I had recently just watched two films: It's A Wonderful Life  (1946) and The Bishop's Wife (1947) both of which feature angels interacting with troubled humans. In Down By The River, we meet a brilliantly constructed pot-bellied foul-mouthed angel, so unlike the models depicted in the films. I enjoyed that story very much.

Anyway to cut a short story even shorter, the book is finished but there remains the possibility of a re-read of the first volume in similar vein - December Stories 1.

Do yourself a favour and get either, better still both, of these books, then return to them annually in December or any other time of year.

December Stories 2 by Ian Sansom
Published by No Alibis Press
November 2021
ISBN. 978-1-838108-13-7