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While reading this post I was wondering whether focussing on one day per year wasn't "cheating" and she'd add much more than she'd write in a normal diary entry. Isn't this not rather an essay written on one particular day, much more than a "real diary"?
I'm surprised she was reading Anaïs Nin.

Amanda R.

I read a wonderful writer's diary this past year. A Very Private Eye by Barbara Pym was wonderful. Lots of wartime and Oxford descriptions, knitting woes, and a whole lot of jam making. She talked about lunching with Elizabeth Taylor or rumors about Sylvia Plath or what Elizabeth Bowen wore. All of that mixed in with her writing and descriptions of several passionate affairs. I highly recommend it. I felt like Barbara Pym was my best friend by the time I completed the book.


Yes, these are definitely not true diary entries really. Maybe I am calling it that when it is not really meant to be--the blurb says these are her thoughts and impressions as she experiences them over the course of one day each year. She does mention her 'real diary' on occasion in the essays--so perhaps I should really call these individual essays as they are often meditations. They are certainly more than--"I did, x,x,x,x,x" but still not exactly true essays (creative nonfiction?) since they meander and assume you have a certain prior knowledge. It has been an interesting reading experience. If I knew what I know now--before I had started the book--I'm not sure I would have picked it up without first having read more about her and some of her fiction, but now that I am so far in I will continue on. I feel as though I have gone into this all a little backwards, but I had this idea that she would be writing about life in the GDR and it hasn't quite turned out how I expected--not bad, just different. I was surprised, too, that she was reading Nin--most of the books, writers she talks about are unfamiliar to me.


Oh that sounds most excellent. I had wanted to go on a Pym binge this year, but only managed one book, a novel, and then never even got around to writing about it. My library has this and I am going to go grab it from the shelf. Thanks for the suggestion--it sounds like something I would love!


This line struck me: "woke up at five because of my inner disquiet." makes me want to know the thoughts that were whirling around in her head! I am sure you will be able to finish by the end of the month :)


Well...fingers crossed anyway. I am going to persevere and read it for an hour tonight at the gym. I am making good progress in it--not sure I will remember a lot from it since it is in such bits and pieces and quite random, but it's passages like the one you quote that make it so very interesting to me. I wonder, too, about a lot of what I read. I am just now coming up to the years when the Wall was coming down--am curious to see how she notes it all.

vicki (skiourophile / bibliolathas)

That bit about women feeling guilty for what (they perceive) their creative impulse takes away from what they are 'meant' to be doing... that's a perfect summation of an age-old dilemma, isn't it?


I especially like all the parts where she talks about being a writer--in particular a woman writer. Yes, this is a feeling many women have, isn't it? Why should we feel guilty, but I find myself saying the same sort of thing, too. And so often creative women who do focus on their art are seen as being selfish or self-absorbed, or bad wives or mothers, too--so sad really, since a man does not get that sort of response to his work.

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