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Negative Capability: A Diary of Surviving

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  67 ratings  ·  13 reviews
Following a series of devastating rejections, Michèle Roberts began keeping an account of her life in the hope it might help mend her shattered sense of self. In this intimate and wryly honest journal she reflects on cities and countryside, loss and love, food, friendships, sisterhood, pleasure and memories, her abiding relationship with France and with literature. Over th ...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published May 28th 2020 by Sandstone Press
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KOMET
Michèle Roberts is a writer, who until reading this book, I had known about by name only - though I have one of her memoirs and a number of her novels in my library. Notwithstanding that, several weeks ago, I had heard her being interviewed on BBC Radio London (online) about "NEGATIVE CAPABILITY: A Diary of Surviving", which prompted me to buy and read it.

Roberts' confidence as a writer is considerably shaken when her latest novel has been rejected several times for publication. As a means of th
...more
Lynn Fraser
Jun 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is part diary, part memoir, all celebration of the joys of love, sex, food, friends, nature and writing in the face of failure, disappointment and death. Like all of Roberts’ work, it’s beautifully, sensually written, intellectually and politically uncompromising, rich with psychoanalytical insights, particularly into mother-child relationships, and bestrides the psychological and physical landscapes of France and Britain (London).

Following the rejection of her latest novel, Roberts i
...more
Claire Wilson
May 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
I was lucky enough to spend a week with Michele Roberts on a writing retreat in the Scottish Highlands. Her stories are fantastic and Negative Capability was like meeting up with an old friend. The book centers around her publisher passing on her latest manuscript - an unbelievable thought with Michele's extensive career. I loved the writing style and was rooting for her the whole way. 4 stars ...more
TBHONEST
Apr 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A candid, honest and unflinching look at life as a published writer. The lows of not getting a book deal and how it affects every part of your life, from how you view yourself to the friendships you have. To the highs of when it does goes well and you get published.

A fantastic read for any writer or anyone who would love to write.
Nicola Pierce
Mar 25, 2021 rated it it was amazing
A writer friend recommended this to me. Over the last few weeks, I have had a few - three - rejections from my own publisher, in relation to new ideas, and was feeling low and somewhat bewildered by how much it affected me. I always believe that a book you are meant to read will not pass you by. When I heard that this writer's journal began following a rejection, I had to have it. Inside, I discovered my feelings of hurt, dejection and wavering self-confidence were a common reaction to a publish ...more
Marina Sofia
Aug 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Such a clear, frank, attractive voice. Both self-critical and self-celebratory (and occasionally wickedly sarcastic about the people she meets). I think Michele Roberts is severely underrated as a writer - her fiction is always interesting, thoughtful and experimental.
Jane Garner
Jun 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Brilliant memoir; vivid and sensory. Interesting thoughts on being a failure and finding a new way of using rejection and negative thoughts.
Penny Haw
Sep 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Frank, forthright and heartrending without being sentimental, I loved Michèle Roberts’ diary/memoir of navigating the aftermath of having a novel rejected. Her writing, of course, is beautiful but it’s more than that. She writes of family, friendship, feminism, love, communities, travel, publishing and food – oh, the food!
Ella
Quiet and comforting. I found the idea and practice of negative capability really helpful in these troubled times. There is escapism in her travels and self reflection and humility, vulnerability and humanity.
Schopflin
Aug 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: finished-in-2020
An unexpected delight. Self-aware and intelligent diary, an insight into the life of a writer, and also this one in particular.
Charlie Beaumont
Jan 13, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I am so pleased that I read this book as it proved to be very thought provoking. The book is effectively a diary, one chapter for each month with the locations written about varying between places in France, including her home there, and the UK, including her home in London. Writing the diary was prompted by the painful experience of having a novel she had written (she had already had 13 published previously plus collections of short stories and of poetry) to assist her in managing the emotional ...more
Elsbeth Kwant
A well-woven story of daily life of a writer. An honest description of the existential threat of a publisher not accepting a book, whilst also trying to keep hold of the fact that it is not the end of the world. Nicely done. Also a nice story of French provincial life, and the effect of growing up between cultures.
'This sense of life going on all around, somehow, inexplicably, often unbearably, while you're suffering: Auden wrote about it; I had it every time someone close to me died.'

And a came
...more
T
Aug 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: england-uk
A frank account of living through times of let-down, depression, and grief. This spirited author serves as a model for "just getting on with it" mostly without giving in. How to edit her novel to get it published, how to get by on little money, or how to simply go on when a friend dies, are subjects that she encounters during this year. Sometimes the answers are friends, reading and art! ...more
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Michèle Brigitte Roberts is the author of fifteen novels, including Ignorance which was nominated for the Women's Prize for Fiction and Daughters of the House which won the W.H. Smith Literary Award and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. Her memoir Paper Houses was BBC Radio 4's Book of the Week in June 2007. She has also published poetry and short stories, most recently collected in Mud: Stori ...more

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