Tales from the Reading Room

give me everythingIn the autumn of 2003, James Lasdun ran a fiction workshop at an American college where he met a talented Iranian-American student whom he calls ‘Nasreen’. He praised her work and encouraged her and they had an entirely ordinary and satisfactory working relationship. Two years later, she sent him the finished manuscript of her novel in the hope he would read and comment on it. Busy at the time, Lasdun did the next best thing and offered to put her in touch with his agent. He then embarked on an email correspondence with her, for the most part benign, but including some mild flirtatious remarks, which he took to be (hoped were) ironic. When James told her that he was planning a cross-country train journey, and she replied that she wanted to smuggle herself into his cabin, ‘I began to realise that something more explicitly discouraging than a mere tactful…

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