One Minute With: Alexandra Fuller, memoirist

 

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The Independent Culture

 

Where are you now and what can you see?

In a hotel room in London.

What are you currently reading?

Roland Barthes's exquisite 'Mourning Diary'. I found it at an independent bookshop which is why we need them - it would never have occured to me to look for it on Amazon. It has such a tragic solace. I'm also reading Roberto Bolaño's 'Antwerp', which I found there.

Choose a favourite author and say why you admire her/him

Really just one? I would say John Berger, and it's because he is so varied and so philosophical. I thought 'G' was the a work of groundbreaking genius.

Describe the room where you usually write

It's a tiny room with very small windows. I'm a huge fan of aesthetics and the tyranny of the blank page is such that you have to have a space that's warm and inviting.

What distracts you from writing?

You can always tell when a deadline is approaching because the house is immaculate and the beds are made with hospital corners, but when I sit down, I can write without distraction.

What fictional character most resembles you?

Gerald Durrell in 'My Family and other Animals'. He's not fictional, he's real, but I read it as a 13-year-old and I recognised the sense of being in a chaotic family.

What are your readers like when you meet them?

They vary from venue to venue, but on the whole, women of my age or older.

Who is your hero/heroine from outside literature?

My mother. She's been through two wars, had five farms and three children. She was in an asylum in Harare when I was younger, and the courage, self-acceptance, and self-forgiveness she showed to reclaim herself was incredible. She wasn't the perfect mother as a child but she's a great mother for a woman in her 40s.

Alexandra Fuller's latest book, 'Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness', is published by Simon & Schuster

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