Human Relations and Other Difficulties
EssaysBook - 2019
An incisive collection of essays by the editor of the London Review of Books , whom Hilary Mantel has called "a presiding genius"
Mary-Kay Wilmers cofounded the London Review of Books in 1979, and has been its sole editor since 1992. Her editorial life began long before that: she started at Faber and Faber in the time of T. S. Eliot, then worked at the Listener , and then at the Times Literary Supplement . As John Lanchester says in his introduction, she has been extracting literary works from reluctant writers for more than fifty years.
As well as an editor, Mary-Kay Wilmers is, and has been throughout her career, a writer. The deeply considered pieces in Human Relations and Other Difficulties , whether on Jean Rhys, Alice James, a nineteenth-century edition of the Pears' Cyclopaedia, novel reviewing, Joan Didion, mistresses, seduction, or her own experience of parenthood, are sparkling, funny, and absorbing.
Underlying all these essays is a concern with the relation between the genders: the effect men have on women, and the ways in which men limit and frame women's lives. Wilmers holds these patterns up to cool scrutiny, and gives a crisp and sometimes cutting insight into the hard work of being a woman.