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Helen Simpson: Women are not tame writers

28th May 2010

Short story author Helen Simpson used her latest collection to show that women writers do not restrict themselves to 'tame' themes and subject matter.

In an interview with the Guardian, Simpson explained that she was inspired to write some of the stories in In-Flight Entertainment after hearing it suggested that female authors tend to focus on 'indoor subjects'.

'I thought, "OK, I'll show you". I'll put everyone around a kitchen table and I'll absolutely stuff it with sex and violence. That was my brief to myself,' she explained.

The collection is centred around domestic situations, but themed on air travel and humanity's reluctance to deal with climate change. It includes stories such as a woman who ends her long-distance relationship because of its environmental cost.

Simpson told the newspaper she chose this theme because of the 'discomfort' and 'touchiness' that people experience when they are forced to discuss issues such as why they should cut down on air travel.

A review of In-Flight Entertainment in the Independent said that the collection also sees Simpson return to her trademark subjects of secrecy around affairs, the injustices of motherhood and the immaturity of men.

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