Add news
March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010
August 2010
September 2010 October 2010
November 2010
December 2010
January 2011
February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011 July 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 November 2011 December 2011 January 2012 February 2012 March 2012 April 2012 May 2012 June 2012 July 2012 August 2012 September 2012 October 2012 November 2012 December 2012 January 2013 February 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013 June 2013 July 2013 August 2013 September 2013 October 2013 November 2013 December 2013 January 2014 February 2014 March 2014 April 2014 May 2014 June 2014 July 2014 August 2014 September 2014 October 2014 November 2014 December 2014 January 2015 February 2015 March 2015 April 2015 May 2015 June 2015 July 2015 August 2015 September 2015 October 2015 November 2015 December 2015 January 2016 February 2016 March 2016 April 2016 May 2016 June 2016 July 2016 August 2016 September 2016 October 2016 November 2016 December 2016 January 2017 February 2017 March 2017 April 2017 May 2017 June 2017 July 2017 August 2017 September 2017 October 2017 November 2017 December 2017 January 2018 February 2018 March 2018 April 2018 May 2018 June 2018 July 2018 August 2018 September 2018 October 2018 November 2018 December 2018 January 2019 February 2019 March 2019 April 2019 May 2019 June 2019 July 2019 August 2019 September 2019 October 2019 November 2019 December 2019 January 2020 February 2020 March 2020 April 2020 May 2020 June 2020 July 2020 August 2020 September 2020 October 2020 November 2020 December 2020 January 2021 February 2021 March 2021 April 2021 May 2021 June 2021 July 2021 August 2021 September 2021 October 2021 November 2021 December 2021 January 2022 February 2022 March 2022 April 2022 May 2022 June 2022 July 2022 August 2022 September 2022 October 2022 November 2022 December 2022 January 2023 February 2023 March 2023 April 2023 May 2023 June 2023 July 2023 August 2023 September 2023 October 2023 November 2023 December 2023 January 2024 February 2024 March 2024 April 2024 May 2024 June 2024 July 2024
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18
News Every Day |

Thick with Her Own Threads: On Rosalind Brown’s “Practice”

IT IS A WELL-documented phenomenon that many a writer, upon sitting down to work on a rare, wide-open day, is seized by a ferocious desire to do anything but. First, warm drinks must be drunk. Articles must be consulted. Notes must be transcribed. Now, to the writing! But wait—there are bills to pay. Shirts to mend. Floors to mop. “What do you get when you cross a writer with a deadline?” asked a meme I saw recently. “A very clean house.”

Of course, this rigmarole is deeply guilt-inducing. But it also has another effect: it suspends the writer in a heightened state of hope. Because as long as the writing hasn’t happened yet, the outcome exists as glorious promise, unfettered possibility—in Annie Dillard’s words, “a glowing thing, a blurred thing of beauty.” Usually, in life, the need to actually produce something (an article, an essay, a book) eventually triumphs over whatever double-edged satisfaction may be found in the procrastinatory mode. Yet in the case of Rosalind Brown’s debut novel, Practice (2024), that realm of potential is—or at the very least forms a generative foundation for—the writing.

Practice recounts a day in the life of Annabel, an undergraduate student at Oxford staring down a deadline for an essay on Shakespeare’s sonnets. The novel begins with the ring of Annabel’s alarm—which goes off at “six o’clock in the morning, Sunday, at the worn-out end of January”—and ends with the shutting of her dorm-room window onto the British winter night. Between rising and retiring, she boils the kettle a lot, reads a few poems, jots down a few notes, constructs an elaborate salad, avoids making plans with her much-older boyfriend, meditates, goes for a walk, loses herself in erotic fantasies, takes a shower, and conducts various other business. Annabel purports to abide by a rigid schedule. Ostensibly, her days are defined by rules including which brewed beverage to drink first (peppermint tea before coffee) and when to meditate (after lunch, and before a walk, “to twist the dial marked Body and the dial marked Mind in opposite directions until they find each other again”), and is a bit smug about it all (“The things she does, she does properly”). What the reader observes, however, is the “tight weave of her routine” continually fraying.

Annabel avoids turning on the heater in her room, or any of her devices, striving for perfect, quiet solitude: a “chilled bright space in her head.” But, as readers, we’re inside that head—and it isn’t exactly a minimalist ice hotel. We’re privy to the “dense foliage” of thoughts that, “like tireless wolves[,] emerge from the trees and pad alongside her.” She’s frequently waylaid by an elaborate erotic fantasy about two characters named SCHOLAR and SEDUCER who in turns obliquely mimic Shakespeare’s obsession with the “Fair Youth” and Annabel’s own relationship with the aforementioned man twice her age. Meanwhile, we also witness behaviors that will be familiar to many a productivity-obsessed soul. Upon losing an hour to an unexpected walk, for instance: “With brute simplicity she calculates, an hour and eight minutes since she went out, so she will add an hour and eight minutes after lunch. The measurements of her routine will be thereby satisfied.” The backdrop of all this doing and not doing is Oxford, laden with prestige and expectation, rife with ancient, twisting alleys that feed Annabel’s tunneling mind.


Unsurprisingly, Annabel doesn’t write the essay. But Brown renders what she does do with such rigor and lucidity that the rhythm of her actions become a reflection of Shakespeare’s poems themselves, as well as the sort of fine-grained textual analysis she aspires toward. At the end of the day, Annabel has produced but a single sentence, and she is happy. Because really, the regimen is scenery: for Annabel, simply being with the sonnets is the height of pleasure. Brown describes her “spending time with these poems: which are better company than people, they take your shape willingly, but still lightly, like a duvet does,” relating how “she lets them work on her mind, entering wholeheartedly into the spirit of them, hardly writing anything down: just reading.”

While Annabel attempts to settle on an essay topic, Brown skillfully evokes the seemingly arbitrary, indeterminate process by which ideas gradually crystallize: “Yes, amnesiac, that is a useful thought, she writes the word down and circles it. She also writes down disingenuous, and then also sly, and defiant.” In one delightfully nerdy digression, in which Annabel considers how the sonnets have been altered by contemporary punctuation, she momentarily envisions “an essay that knows all the subtleties of Jacobean printing conventions, traces beautifully how thoughts are lightly directed and compartmentalized by the original punctuation, and expresses with elegant sorrow the loss of this finesse in pedantic modern editions.” Indeed, many of the book’s most beautiful passages speak to the subtle, mysterious alchemy of scholarship: “All she is doing here,” writes Brown of Annabel’s attempts to think through the sonnets, “is pushing tiny pins into a tiny board and winding them thick with her own threads.”

As she continues to do anything but write her essay, Annabel’s fixation on the sonnets transmutes into a broader ethic of attention. Nuanced sensations bubble up from within her body. Everyday objects, like her homely coffee mug, glimmer with expanded meaning. And familiar, typically mundane routines are undertaken with such precision and intentionality that they assume the sacred, methodical quality of ritual. Take, for instance, Brown’s description of Annabel making a salad:

She arrays celery, cucumber, tomatoes, parsley, a packet of mozzarella. Levers two sticks of celery out from the base, brushes some dirt off them under the tap, lays them down, takes the knife and positions the blade in the inside curve of one stick: then slices it from end to end in one careful motion. Repeats with the other. The brief joy of the knife: if only more things were like the efficient sharp action of a knife through cellulose, feeling each fiber give to the blade edge.

Of her taking a shower:

Soaps herself all across the planes of her body and into all the creases, lathers up the three patches of hair, twists about rinsing herself under the water, peels her buttocks apart briefly to let the water in, tips her head back to send one last soak of heat down through her head.

Of her taking a shit:

It goes on and on, another splash and another, her muscles gasping and pulsing again, pushing to clear every last morsel […] Slowly she moves, glances back at the brown mess, and begins the tedious process of wiping herself, the repetition of smaller and smaller smears on white paper.

Such asides, rendered as they are in Brown’s austere yet rigorously observant prose, represent the real delights of Practice. Because, in lieu of producing an essay about Shakespeare’s poems, everything—literally everything—is imbued with the poetry’s distilled, percipient quality. The book makes the case that a particular kind of mindfulness is to be found in the space of possibility that precedes writing, the mode of wanting-to-write—to the extent that that its fizzing latency becomes its own vivid and extra sensitive orientation on the world, its own vital way of being.


For me, Practice produced a feeling of double identification, as I expect it might for many writers. I am an inveterate procrastinator. (I have reluctantly begun to accept that faffing around for at least a day or two is simply part of my process when starting any new piece of writing.) But when it came time to write this review, I found myself relishing the act of procrastination—imbuing it, like Annabel, with a kind of hallowed, intertextual meaning. It was as though Brown’s book gave me permission not just to go through the usual nonsense when faced with a deadline—which in this case involved, among other things, drinking too many cups of coffee, eating strawberries, thinking about masturbating, getting a bikini wax, applying for a residency, and scraping moss from paving stones—but also to engage in these activities with a kind of lyrical intensity, thereby enacting my own transference between reading and living, between textual and experiential attention.

This is all to say that, at about 7:00 p.m. on day one, with, like Annabel, little material accomplishment to show for myself, I quickly wrote the sentence: It is always difficult to begin a text, but particularly difficult to begin a text about a text about a person trying to begin a text about a text, because in its very substance it reveals the impossibility of the whole enterprise, the fundamental, unbridgeable gap between subject and object, between my text and their text, a gap that, if contemplated too seriously, inspires desire as well as heartbreak. This done, I ate a large bowl of pasta and went to bed.

Last-ditch though that pronouncement was, it’s worth decoding—especially in the context of Brown’s novel. At one point, after various breaks and daydreams and hasty responses to texts from annoying friends and family members, Annabel determines that she must work: “And so. She spreads the six pages out on the desk. Six tight poems for her to lick with her mind in a long slow lick right up the spine of each one.” She doesn’t just want to read the poems, or write poetry herself—no, “she wants to be a poem.” Reading them is an erotic experience, an experience akin to romantic love. She wants to lick the text, swallow it, merge with it. No wonder she’s horny; criticism, the scholar Merve Emre has said, “is just relentless sublimation.”

But reading the sonnets—simply being with them, relishing her attraction to them, before Annabel has to truly assess their particularities, examine their compatibility, consider their future together—allows her to prolong the fantasy of total union. She is free to enjoy the infiltration of their voice, to steep in their shimmering and seductive aura. In the throes of young love, she sees the world through sonnet-colored glasses. What some might call procrastination, others might call foreplay.

In this way, Practice beautifully illustrates a tension at the heart of not just loving reading but loving writ large. At the beginning, we all want to “be the poem.” And to some extent, we are what we read, we are who and what we’ve loved—they all leave their marks, their various inscriptions. But also, we are not what we’ve read or loved. We are who we are, and a text or person or object is a text or person or object. The paradox is imbued with aching desire—don’t we all want we can’t quite reach? Barthes called a climactic moment with a text “jouissance”: bliss so all-consuming that it is a kind of death (jouissance is also a word for orgasm). I imagine Annabel longs to write the sort of text he advocated for, “the language lined with flesh, a text where we can hear the grain of the throat”; to throw “the anonymous body of the actor into [her] ear: it granulates, it crackles, it caresses, it grates, it cuts, it comes.”

Inevitably, though, orgasms end. The sheen of novelty wears off. And the reality of the task sets in: the deadline is imminent; the piece must be written. For a little while, it’s thrilling to try to be the poem. Yet I’ve been told that for love to endure, you must look at your beloved from a distance and accept the fact of an uncrossable divide. Writing, like enduring love, isn’t a brief, self-obliterating moment of bliss—it’s a connection that’s hard-won and worked at, a distance that’s persevered against, and a relationship that’s honed over time. Writing, like love, is a practice.

The post Thick with Her Own Threads: On Rosalind Brown’s “Practice” appeared first on Los Angeles Review of Books.


Стройготовность школы на 2 тыс мест в Котельниках составляет 80%

Biden's anger bleeds through as party weighs his future

UFC Denver video: Abdul Razak Alhassan vs. Cody Brundage ends in no-contest after illegal blows

‘He walked just fine’: Pros react to Abdul Razak Alhassan vs. Cody Brundage ending in controversial no-contest

Warner will not be considered for 2025 Champions Trophy: Bailey

Read also

I transformed my bland, grey kitchen into a pink paradise in seconds with a £2.50 Amazon buy & it’s renter friendly

Family dogs enjoy travels through Europe on a 12-day adventure to Italy, France and more

What Is a Rent-Back Agreement?

News, articles, comments, with a minute-by-minute update, now on

News Every Day

Biden's anger bleeds through as party weighs his future — latest news 24/7. You can add your news instantly now — here

News Every Day

UFC Denver video: Abdul Razak Alhassan vs. Cody Brundage ends in no-contest after illegal blows

Sports today

Новости тенниса
Анастасия Гасанова

Анастасия Гасанова выиграла золото и серебро на Кубке федерации тенниса России

Спорт в России и мире

Выборы мэра Сочи могут отменить из-за нарушений

All sports news today

Sports in Russia today


Росгвардия обеспечила безопасность на футбольном матче в Москве

Новости России

Game News

CD Projekt's Pawel Sasko tells the inspiring tale of how an Estonian beet farmer in Australia became a senior quest designer on The Witcher 4



Губернаторы России
Сергей Безруков

Спектакль Сергея Безрукова откроет сезон в нижегородском театре оперы и балета

Письмо генеральному прокурору и отмена выборов - чем может обернуться избрание нового главы города Сочи?

"Матрица" от ShantiOlga активирует изобилие

Daily Mail: бразильский эксперт Мораэс реконструировал внешность Ивана Грозного

Заведующий рефракционным отделением клиники микрохирургии глаза АйМед Кирилл Светлаков: как снизить нагрузку на глаза при работе с гаджетами

Звезды российского шоу-бизнеса приняли участие в премьере документального фильма «Арбенина»

Писатель Беседин: Петр Мамонов преображал мир вокруг себя

ГУАП отмечен благодарностью Минобрнауки РФ за внедрение программы «Обучение служением»

Благотворительное шоу Анастасии Волочковой прошло в Солнечногорске

Журналисты раскрыли значение цветов наряда онкобольной Миддлтон на Уимблдоне

Алькарас обратился к Джоковичу после финала Уимблдона

Олимпиаду в Париже не покажут по ТВ в России

Надаль, Шаповалов, Опелка, Томлянович сыграют на US Open по защищенному рейтингу, Осака не попала в основу

Зампредправления Сбера Анатолий Попов рассказал о продуктах исламского финансирования Сбербанка

Письмо генеральному прокурору и отмена выборов - чем может обернуться избрание нового главы города Сочи?

Выборы мэра Сочи могут отменить из-за нарушений

Заводы АО "Желдорреммаш" выбирают лучших в своей профессии

Президент России Владимир Путин в Тверской области открыл движение на Северном обходе города Твери

В Оренбургском филиале АО «Желдорреммаш» освоен ремонт нового оборудования для тепловозов «Витязь», работающих на БАМе

Создание Афиши Выступления или Концерта, Мероприятия, События.

Юлия Пересильд споет на крыше

Ума плата: как первокурснику получить стипендию в сотни тысяч рублей

Около 250 машин задействовали для аэрации дорог в Подмосковье

Встреча клуба любителей литературы и кино состоится в Щербинке

Московская международная книжная ярмарка пройдет 4–8 сентября в Москве

Путин в России и мире

Персональные новости
Игорь Бутман

В Твери вновь выступит Игорь Бутман и его джазовый оркестр

News Every Day

Bears Reportedly Played A Big Part In Giants Losing Saquon Barkley

Friends of Today24

Музыкальные новости

Персональные новости