February is for curmudgeons, whinge-bags, and misanthropes. You can't begrudge us one month of the year or blame us for being even crabbier, it's so short. There is nothing good about it, which is why it's so great.
Tory supporters are not spontaneously ashamed; they have been made to feel ashamed. British leftists fiercely believe they are right - in the sense of correct but also in the sense of just. Conservatives likewise believe they are right-as-in-correct. Yet Tories are less confident about whether their politics are right-as-in-just.
Conservative supporters might either have the courage of their convictions or, if truly ashamed, revise them, but they should at least refute the proposition that defending your own interests is only acceptable if you're broke.
During the protracted tooth-and-nail tussle between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Democratic primaries, I was one of those fierce partisans desperate for the first black candidate with a serious shot at the White House to win the nomination.
By stereotyping my work's audience as self-involved and prissy, women-only packaging also insults my readers, who could all testify that trussing up my novels as sweet, girly, and soft is like stuffing a Rottweiler in a dress.
I guess I understand a public intellectual to be somebody who moves public discourse forward: someone who either says something new or says something that everybody knows to be true but is afraid to express.
For the left-leaning, political identity is liable to be closely intertwined with personal identity. The left is collusive, if not presumptuous: should you get on well with leftists at a party, they will blithely assume that you share the same views on the invasion of Iraq, even if all you've talked about is the canapes.
Awful film adaptations follow novelists for the rest of their lives. An atrocious movie of 'We Need to Talk About Kevin' could have stigmatised the book, aggrieved the novel's fans, and blighted my reputation forever.
Edith Wharton was a natural story-teller. As plots do in real life, hers flow directly from character. Her prose is so effortlessly elegant that you're rarely aware as they purl by that the sentences are so pretty. More concerned with what is put than how it is put, she also understood that you only say anything at all when you say it well.
As a child, I was always a sucker for anything in miniature, and it didn't have to be a dress: a desk, a Matchbox truck. Perhaps a childhood attraction to shrunken but compellingly realistic facsimiles is commonplace, if only because children themselves are compellingly realistic facsimiles of the giants who rule their world.
Weight having become politicised, anyone with a profile in the media who either subscribes to or departs from the template of tininess implicitly represents a constituency, whether they want to or not.
I'm sometimes asked if I get bored with talking about 'Kevin,' and of course, the short answer is yes. Nevertheless, after a long slog in the literary trenches, I never take a single reader for granted and always remind myself that for new readers the unfolding story is fresh.
I am bowled over by the massive number of remarkable people who face down the fact that no, they are not going to be film directors, famous artists, or billionaire entrepreneurs and still come out the other side as cheerful, decent, gracious human beings.