Posted 20 hours ago

Because I Don't Know What You Mean and What You Don't

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Josie’s stories are like her comedy – beautifully observed, strange, good-hearted, unsettling and truly funny. Opening up this book is like skinny-dipping in the brain of a genius – I never wanted to come up for air. A bizarre collection of rambling, often political, often funny, often conversational, aggressively British short stories.

With everything from teenage friendship to parenthood to leaving London, this debut collection is perfect for fans of Miranda July, Emma Jane Unsworth and Dolly Alderton. Its 16 stories offer rich, breathlessly paced narratives of sexual obsession or late-night parenting or annoyance with an egg-obsessed lockdown-era neighbourhood WhatsApp group, each told from the perspective of a different person. By the last two stories, set after and then back during the current collapse, I really could have gone for something jolly.I think that story did act as a vehicle for a lot of built up STRESS about class and respectability and niceness of people in England who want to be seen as good and also renting in London and poor quality accommodation.

I live or die for feedback, which means I’m so excited my stories are finally out there, and can’t wait to hear what everyone thinks. I’d had my kids and that was so much a part of my life and I care so much about politics I thought it had to be things that I talk about.

Some of them are downright upsetting and they all address uncomfortable issues with style, tension and resolve. She’s still touring as a comedian, winning avid fans for her open-hearted, earnest, fiercely political brand of comedy, the latest show of which is Re-Enchantment, an exploration of her lockdown experiences raising two small kids and moving to Scotland, and her fury at the right-wing English establishment. Comedy doesn’t produce many millionaires, but Long’s still had a pretty successful career by most reckonings.

There is an overarching theme of female anxiety, especially felt in the story where the young woman meets up with her ex-boyfriend, but I didn’t relate to the majority of the characters. Similarly haunted by the pandemic is “Poets Rise”, a Black Mirror-esque tale of surveillance and loneliness. We don’t share your credit card details with third-party sellers, and we don’t sell your information to others. As we speak, she’s (surprisingly) fresh from a 24-hour flight back from a series of gigs in Melbourne, with her one-year-old and five-year-old daughters in tow. I really hope this isn't the end of Josie Long's writing career and that there's more where this came from!Then as I wrote it I was finding all these things on Instagram and realising oh I have the name now, that was abuse, that was this, that was that, and so the story itself was my experience of writing that story. Now I’m getting shit from the far right and Terfs [trans-exclusionary radical feminists],” she says – with her support for charity Mermaids making her a public target for anti-trans crusader Graham Linehan, before his eventual Twitter ban. To calculate the overall star rating and percentage breakdown by star, we don’t use a simple average.

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