Picture of author.
26+ teosta 1,928 jäsentä 52 arvostelua 11 Favorited

Tietoja tekijästä

Jenny Diski was born Jenny Simmonds on July 8, 1947. Before becoming a full-time writer, she worked as an English teacher. Her first novel, Nothing Natural, was published in 1986. During her lifetime, she wrote eleven novels, two collections of short stories, memoirs, travelogues, and essays. Her näytä lisää non-fiction works included Skating to Antarctica, Stranger on a Train, and The Sixties. She also wrote columns in the London Review of Books. All of the columns she wrote about her diagnosis with inoperable cancer were collected in In Gratitude. She died of cancer on April 28, 2016 at the age of 68. (Bowker Author Biography) näytä vähemmän

Includes the name: Jenny Diski

Tekijän teokset

Nothing Natural (1986) 211 kappaletta
In Gratitude (2016) 161 kappaletta
The Vanishing Princess: Stories (1995) 105 kappaletta
On Trying to Keep Still (2006) 100 kappaletta
Apology for the Woman Writing (2008) 76 kappaletta
Rainforest (1987) 60 kappaletta
Only Human: A Divine Comedy (2000) 56 kappaletta
What I don't know about animals (2010) 56 kappaletta
Monkey's Uncle (1994) 48 kappaletta
Happily Ever After (1991) 48 kappaletta
Like Mother (1988) 46 kappaletta

Associated Works

Slow Hand: Women Writing Erotica (1992) — Avustaja — 201 kappaletta
Best Short Stories 1991 (1991) — Avustaja — 15 kappaletta
10x passie-vrouwen vertellen — Avustaja — 1 kappale

Merkitty avainsanalla




Interesting story of life with Doris Lessing in the mid to late 20th century, and thought provoking writing about dying with lung cancer.
Merkitty asiattomaksi
oldblack | 6 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Jan 1, 2023 |
Essay collections are always galvanizing for me, creatively speaking, because they're an art form with anything under the sun for a subject. The essay is buoyed by the voice of the writer first and foremost. If the voice is engrossing, the topic at hand could be neuroscience & its implications for spiritual consciousness or the genitalia of bottom-feeders, it really doesn't matter. Diski is a winsome companion, her deadpan being felt through the pages. It's fun reading sarcastic writers because you feel in on a joke, like a spectator to a world you don't quite seek to understand as much as witness.

It seems LRB frequently assigned biographies & memoirs to Diski, as they make up maybe a third of this collection. I'm largely ambivalent to memoirs, even those about figures I appreciate. The pitfall I only occasionally experienced is Diski discussing the memoir of a person (or persons) I had no knowledge of. I don't give a shit about the royal family, and clearly neither did Diski, but unfortunately even a mutual distaste for the subject of a memoir isn't enough to save the essay on Princess Margaret. I don't even know if Princess Margaret is her title, and I'm frankly unwilling to expend the net zero calories to look it up. However, her essays on broadly contemptible people (like Piers Morgan) are excellent. Her style is almost uniquely poised to leverage the sublime mediocrity of figures like Morgan for good writing.

The capstone of this collection for me was the final entry, "A Diagnosis," about Diski's cancer. One of the fundamental woes of human life is realizing and remaining aware always that your life is not as unique as you might conceive it to be. There is always someone whose life or experience mirrors yours. Of course, given we can never climb out of our ontological hovel like an animal out of an egg, every experience will feel unique. We will be the protagonist of our story. As Diski discusses though, momentous life experiences, like cancer diagnoses, have yielded every reaction one would think to have. Upon her diagnosis, she makes a joke to the oncologist that she better get to cooking meth. Met with an uncomfortably stoic response, she realizes later that perhaps the Breaking Bad joke to oncologists is what "Working hard or hardly working" is to anybody who works a painfully mundane office job. It's the platitude that cracks open cancer's Pandora's box of patterns & platitudes: cancer diaries, headscarves, combat-themed metaphors that anthropomorphize the little cancerous cells, etc. I don't mean to belittle or invalidate any of these things, as someone who has not yet experienced cancer (not planning on it, but who does); these are things Diski adduces, and things she's promptly embarrassed by. She writes about how embarrassment was the foremost emotion she felt upon hearing her diagnosis. It firmly entrenched her in a well-worn lineage of survivors & victims, one that seemed to sap any chance of an authentic response to the event. However, it's this self-reflexive, circumspect response that makes her experience authentic, as anyone's response to a cancer diagnosis is authentic. She bemoans her inclination to write a cancer diary, but if she didn't, she wouldn't be Jenny Diski. It's a mordant essay that doesn't surrender to its own mordancy, but rather demonstrates irony & sarcasm's potential to abrade clichéd calculus from true lived experience.
… (lisätietoja)
Merkitty asiattomaksi
MilksopQuidnunc | 2 muuta kirja-arvostelua | May 1, 2022 |
Just floating this idea, but I don't think Diski has forgiven God.
1 ääni
Merkitty asiattomaksi
thenumeraltwo | 1 muu arvostelu | Jun 9, 2021 |
Why Didn't You Just Do What You Were Told? is a wonderful collection of Jenny Diski's short form writing. They are essays in the form of book reviews, or book reviews in the form of essays. However one wants to categorize them, they are both delightful to read on a surface level while also providing much food for thought at the many underlying levels. These run from the personal (constant throughout) to the cultural, societal, and political. Yet rarely in a way that is beating the reader over the head (unless, of course, we deserve it).

I am mostly familiar with Diski's writing from her books and the periodic clippings friends used to send me of her pieces they thought I would appreciate. I came to realize that her writing did not have to be "about" a topic I was already interested in, she seemed to always find, if not a universality, a common path into any topic. From there we were free to let her offer some guidance on further musings. This collection offers very few, if any, essays that didn't cause me to consider ideas and situations far removed (so I thought) from the main theme of the piece.

While I highly recommend this to readers who enjoy personal essays/book reviews, I would also make a suggestion for those who don't usually read such books. These essays are ideal for those moments when we have a short time to read but want something with both substance and entertainment value. Perhaps an essay before bed, or if you want something besides news feeds to read at lunch or a work break. While the reading time is short for each they will help keep your mind engaged and active in processing what she says.

Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley.
… (lisätietoja)
Merkitty asiattomaksi
pomo58 | 2 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Apr 5, 2021 |



You May Also Like

Associated Authors


Also by
Arvio (tähdet)
½ 3.7
Kuinka monen suosikki

Taulukot ja kaaviot