There are some writers who are just excruciatingly brilliant. And Lucy Caldwell is one of them. I first came across this story at an event, in which I was reading after Caldwell. Suffice to say that after hearing the first few pages of this story, I was mortified for whatever I was about to read. Later, having got hold of the full story in print-out (courtesy of my co-reader), I read ‘Words for Things’ on the train back to Norwich. Two mum friends, right after coming out of their babies’ swimming class, begin talking about Monica Lewinsky in a hotel lobby. It was the first time I felt a story being both deeply feminine and incredibly powerful.
After I finished the story, I gripped the printout and looked outside the window, and I realised that my outlook as a writer had been somehow shifted. I had always only wanted to write like a writer, but at that moment I knew that I actually wanted to write like a woman writer.
First published in The Stinging Fly, February 2021, and available to read here. Collected in Intimacies, Faber, 2021