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This interview is taken from PN Review 235, Volume 43 Number 5, May - June 2017.

A Conversation with Carol Mavor Emma Wilson
READERS OF THIS MAGAZINE will be familiar with Carol Mavor’s work. I’ve long been drawn to her books because of their attention to the senses and emotions, both in the material she treats, and in her intimate, blossoming writing. We had the chance to meet in Cambridge last November and to share thoughts about childhood, about art objects, and about grief. We met in my college room where Carol was instantly drawn to the books around – Marie Darrieussecq, Lydia Davis – and to the paintings on the walls. The text offered here is an excerpt from what turned into a longer conversation.


EW: I want to start with childhood. Your work has looked so closely at the mothers and children in the photographs taken by Julia Margaret Cameron. Alice in Wonderland is one of the nursery books in your writing. What about the child Carol?

CM: I’m an only child and that has influenced the way I think. In her fabulous essay ‘Onliness’, Alexandra Schwartz notes that the American psychologist G. Stanley Hall claimed: ‘Being an only child is a disease in itself.’ And it is true. ‘Onliness’ is melancholic. But is is also a loneliness that you can indulge in, make something from. As a child, I spent a lot of time alone in my room (door closed) making things, dressing up, daydreaming, arranging things. I had space: physically and emotionally. But it was also boring. Adam Phillips defines boredom as ‘desire for desire’ and that sums up how I felt as a child. I longed ...


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