In the new issue of AnOther Magazine, Emma Cline talks about her love of Difficult Women by David Plante. “It’s a hard book to look away from,” she says
This article is taken from the Spring/Summer 2023 issue of AnOther Magazine:
“Thick slabs of biography are less appealing to me these days – what I’ve been looking for lately is particularity, a book where someone cuts off a thin slice of a life and applies their own sensibility to it. Difficult Women by David Plante makes you realise how impossible most attempts to encapsulate the whole of a person are. The book comprises short accounts of three of Plante’s relationships – with Jean Rhys, Sonia Orwell and Germaine Greer. They’re all ‘difficult’ in some ways, but Plante isn’t easy himself. It’s not a kind book, and the sadness of life is held up mercilessly, almost triumphantly. His portrait of Rhys – most famous for Wide Sargasso Sea, though Good Morning, Midnight might be my favourite – is the most memorably grim. She’s holed up in a cold cottage in rural England, desperate for money, always on the lookout for a free drink. Is this portrait just cruel? I don’t think so. Plante’s sketches, drawn from his diaries, are ungenerous, even betraying, but Rhys’s strange brilliance is unmissable. It’s a hard book to look away from.”
The second of seven siblings born and raised north of San Francisco, in Sonoma County, Emma Cline was just 27 when she wrote The Girls, the tale of an untethered teenager drawn into a Manson-like cult in jittery late Sixties California. The novel inspired a publishers’ bidding frenzy and critical acclaim for Cline’s tactile prose, at once off-kilter dreamy and needle-sharp in its observations. She followed her debut with Daddy, a collection of short stories dissecting the inner lives of a handful of ageing, entitled men. With a small-screen adaptation of The Girls in development, the LA-based author, now 34, will publish her second novel in May – The Guest traces a young woman’s trajectory through the elite enclaves of Long Island over the course of one feverish summer.
Hair: Ryan Taniguchi at TMG LA using ORIBE. Make-up: Anna Kato. Styling assistant: Jos Chumley. Production: Jones Management
This story features in the Spring/Summer 2023 issue of AnOther Magazine, which is on sale now. Order here.