Hay Festival 2012: Helen Simpson – ‘Blimey, you aren’t half sensitive’

Hay Festival 2012: Helen Simpson – ‘Blimey, you aren’t half sensitive’

When compiling a collection of 25 years’ worth of her short stories, Helen Simpson lighted on the ideal interviewer: Helen Simpson. A little aggressive, a touch defensive and very eloquent, the alter egos go head to head.

What was it like to read through 25 years’ worth of stories in one go?

My first reaction, which I wasn’t expecting, was: “Oh they’re good! They’re really good!” I felt extremely happy.

Huh! You would say that, wouldn’t you?

Well no, actually. I’ve kicked and berated myself for years – decades – for not being more prolific. “Lazy”, “Stupid”, “Waste of space” etc. And I was relieved to see none of that showed.

Five years per collection, though. Why so slow?

I don’t know. It’s a very wasteful way of writing, the way I do it. It’s like spending hours cooking a meal only to see it gobbled down in a few minutes. But the way I think of it is: “Reader, I save you time! I cut to the chase!”


To read the full interview please click here.

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