‘Living on the Box’ by Penelope Gilliatt

I sometimes wish I had half the icy-smooth scathing of a mid-century woman writer. Here, Gilliatt turns it on the pomposity of nature poets, and she’s absolutely lacerating. I love the way she scarcely bothers to finish the story, just whips the whole diorama away as if to say: come on now, don’t be daft.

First published in The New Yorker in 1964. Collected in What’s It Like Out? Virago Modern Classics, 1990