Michèle Roberts is sitting on a sofa, her hands flying about like birds. She’s drawing in the air the structure of her novel Flesh and Blood (1994), the book she’s most proud of and which is, sadly, out of print. “It pulls together like a zip,” she says, explaining how this symbolic tale of mother-daughter love and rage – which some might call a prose poem – tells its story from each end in, the first part of the narrative linking up with the last and coming together in the middle. Roberts has always wanted to break boundaries, but transgressing the conventions of form is only part of it. From the time she was a student at Oxford, she regarded “writing passionately” as going hand in hand with “living passionately”. The life she went on to create for herself, chronicled in her new autobiography, Paper Houses, has been as consciously mould-breaking as her experiments in fiction. Born in 1949 into a middle-class home, the daughter of a French mother and an English father, she rebelled against her Roman Catholic background and sought out a radical, bohemian existence which embraced communal living, free love and the socialist feminism of the 70s…. Read full this story
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