Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Search in posts
Search in pages

Topics of Conversation by Miranda Popkey Read Online (FREE)


When I bought the house I did so in part because I had a romantic notion about the turn my life might take in such a town, so small and dead-ended. I imagined myself working at a diner, a diner frequented by truckers. I imagined one of them, kindhearted, modifying his routes so he could see me more often. Never staying longer than the time it took to drink two cups of coffee and eat a grilled cheese, but nevertheless, an understanding growing between us. I imagined myself in a long dress, in a backyard, hanging my sheets out to dry on a clothesline. Shielding my eyes from the sun. Instead I pay a woman to care for my son while I work as a legal secretary. All my skirts hit just below the knee. To clean these clothes, I use a washing machine and a dryer, both located in the basement. In the short story I read, the protagonist has a son, a son whom he leaves, with his wife, on the Eastern Seaboard. The author, the jeans-wearer, had a number of children. They are scattered about the country with the women who bore them. And though yes, it is true that the author never got sober, perhaps all this time I have been wrong about the story’s protagonist, the man who runs out of road. Because he hasn’t, not really. I mean, he can drive into the ocean. He can always decide to turn around.



This manuscript emerged in part from an engagement with and in some cases refers elliptically to the following texts, television shows, films, web series, works of art, songs, e-mail newsletters, and podcasts: Speedboat and Pitch Dark, Renata Adler; Phantom Thread, written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson; Hotel Chevalier, directed by Wes Anderson; Unmastered, Katherine Angel; Frasier, Seasons 1–11, created by David Angell, Peter Casey, and David Lee; Fish Tank, directed by Andrea Arnold; Clouds of Sils Maria and Personal Shopper, directed by Olivier Assayas; All Grown Up, Jami Attenberg; Rocky, directed by John G. Avildsen; John, Annie Baker; Cassandra at the Wedding, Dorothy Baker; Giovanni’s Room, James Baldwin; The Big Blue, directed by Luc Besson; Out of This World, created by John Boni and Bob Booker; Horace and Pete, written and directed by Louis C.K., especially Episode 3, starring Laurie Metcalf; The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Robert Caro; “The Glass Essay,” Anne Carson; “Fresno’s Ugly Divide,” a multi-part series published by The Atlantic and written by Rachel Cassandra, Misyrlena Egkolfopoulou, Briana Flin, Alexandria Fuller, Margaret Katcher, Mary Newman, and Reis Thebault, graduate students at U.C. Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism; Husbands and Minnie and Moskowitz, written and directed by John Cassavetes; The Handmaiden, directed by Park Chan-wook; Mrs. Bridge, Evan S. Connell; “Reading the Tarot,” an e-mail newsletter written by Jessa Crispin; In the Last Analysis, Amanda Cross; Outline and Transit, Rachel Cusk; the e-mail newsletter associated with “The Small Bow,” a website created by A. J. Daulerio and illustrated by Edith Zimmerman; The Possession, Annie Ernaux (trans. Anna Moschovakis); reporting in The New Yorker on Harvey Weinstein by Ronan Farrow; Veronica, Mary Gaitskill; The Babysitter at Rest, Jen George; The End of the Novel of Love, Vivian Gornick; Call Me by Your Name, directed by Luca Guadagnino; I Love Dick, created by Sarah Gubbins and Jill Soloway, especially Episode 5, “A Short History of Weird Girls,” written by Annie Baker, Chris Kraus, and Heidi Schreck; The Piano Teacher, directed by Michael Haneke; L.A. Confidential, directed by Curtis Hanson; Writing a Woman’s Life, Carolyn G. Heilbrun; “Invictus,” William Ernest Henley; How Should a Person Be?, Sheila Heti; “The Oppositional Gaze: Black Female Spectators,” bell hooks; Three Times, directed by Hou Hsiao-hsien; In a Lonely Place, Dorothy B. Hughes; Negroland, Margo Jefferson; Moonstruck, directed by Norman Jewison; The Folded Clock, Heidi Julavits; The First Bad Man, Miranda July; reporting in The New York Times about workplace sexual harassment led by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey; Big Little Lies, created by David E. Kelley; I Love Dick, Chris Kraus; The Journals of Sylvia Plath 1950–1962, edited by Karen V. Kukil; Suite for Barbara Loden, Nathalie Léger; August: Osage County, Tracy Letts; The Widening Spell of the Leaves, Larry Levis; Margaret, directed by Kenneth Lonergan; Her Body and Other Parties, Carmen Maria Machado; Shame, directed by Steve McQueen; The Collected Stories, Leonard Michaels; The Journalist and the Murderer, Janet Malcolm; The English Patient, directed by Anthony Minghella; “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema,” Laura Mulvey; Blank Check with Griffin and David, hosted by Griffin Newman and David Sims, especially the December 23, 2018, episode on Aquaman, directed by James Wan; And Now We Have Everything, Meaghan O’Connell; The English Patient, Michael Ondaatje; New Collected Poems, George Oppen; Meaning a Life, Mary Oppen; Where Should We Begin?, Season 1, hosted by Esther Perel; Parallel Lives, Phyllis Rose; Mating, Norman Rush; Goodfellas and Casino, directed by Martin Scorsese; The Rings of Saturn, W. G. Sebald; “Push,” written by Matt Serletic and Rob Thomas, performed by Matchbox Twenty; Secretary, directed by Steven Shainberg; The West Wing, Seasons 1–3, created by Aaron Sorkin; “Does Anyone Have the Right to Sex?” Amia Srinivasan, London Review of Books, Vol 40, No. 6, March 22, 2018; Want and When the Saints, Lynn Steger Strong; Antígona González, Sara Uribe (trans. John Pluecker); Jane the Virgin, created by Jennie Snyder Urman; “On Pandering,” an essay by Claire Vaye Watkins given as a lecture during the 2015 Tin House Summer Workshop and reprinted in the 2015 Winter Issue of Tin House magazine; Basic Instinct, directed by Paul Verhoeven; Fleabag, created by Phoebe Waller-Bridge; “Ventimiglia,” Joanna Walsh; Mad Men, Seasons 6–7, created by Matthew Weiner, especially Season 6, Episode 7, “Man with a Plan,” starring Linda Cardellini; Drive, directed by Nicolas Winding Refn; “Burn This,” Lanford Wilson; Heroines, Kate Zambreno; Sour Heart, Jenny Zhang.