Zoe Williams

Julie Hayden, Day-Old Baby Rats.mp3

This is a trilogy of items which are relevant to me in differing but interrelated ways.

The first image is a photo I took, which depicts some pearlised baroque, flourishes from a somewhat touristy Italian restaurant in Turin. I love the idea that the plaster or silicone underneath the pearlescent paint effect is masquerading as baroque cornicing in a very energetic and unconvincing way. 

The second image is "La Dormeuse" (River goddess), c.1747/1748

Soft paste porcelain, coloured enamels

French, Vincennes


Enid Goldblatt Collection, The Bowes Museum.

And the third is an audio of Julie Hayden's "Day-Old Baby Rats." I first came across this story as a New Yorker fiction podcast read by Lorrie Moore. The story was originally published in the New Yorker Magazine in 1972.  Julie Hayden died at 42, she worked at The New Yorker for 16 years and published ten short stories in the magazine (republished later in The Lists of the Past). Day Old Baby Rats is about a woman in New York whom manages her daily crises with a hip flask of scotch. It switches beautifully between the narrators inner and outer worlds and intersperses the surface texture of things with emotion in a way that I am really drawn to.