Rebecca Mead on Finding Ways to Keep Reporting Through Lockdown
In Conversation with Paul Holdengräber on The Quarantine Tapes
Hosted by Paul Holdengräber, The Quarantine Tapes chronicles shifting paradigms in the age of social distancing. Each day, Paul calls a guest for a brief discussion about how they are experiencing the global pandemic.
Paul Holdengräber is joined by writer Rebecca Mead on Episode 199 of The Quarantine Tapes. A longtime contributor to The New Yorker, Rebecca talks with Paul about writing and the changing experience of time under quarantine. Rebecca and Paul dig into some of her recent writing. They talk about her article, “The Therapeutic Power of Gardening,” and how Rebecca was able to feel closer to her mother thanks to her new gardening practice. Then, Rebecca explains the unique practice of cold water swimming in the UK and her own experience with the discipline. In a fascinating and focused discussion, Paul and Rebecca cover Winnicott, wild swimming, and Rebecca’s upcoming book, Home/Land.
From the episode:
Rebecca Mead: Normally my life as a reporter involves a lot of getting on planes, getting on trains, talking to people, going to see things, going to watch people do things in different places. And none of that was possible. So there was a necessity to find new ways of reporting and writing and finding something to say, and finding a space to write something that was going to bring me the solace and the comfort that writing does, and the sense of making something on the page or on the screen. I’ve been very, very fortunate that work has continued for me and it’s not been curtailed by this pandemic. It gives me a lot of hope and satisfaction. But finding these in some ways quieter scenes has been a comfort.
To listen to the episode, as well as the whole archive of The Quarantine Tapes, subscribe and listen on iTunes or wherever else you find your favorite podcasts.
Rebecca Mead was born in England and studied at Oxford and NYU. She joined The New Yorker as a staff writer in 1997; among the many subjects she has profiled for the magazine are Lin-Manuel Miranda, Margaret Atwood, Nico Muhly, Slavoj Zizek, and Mary Beard. She has written hundreds of Talk of the Town stories and is a frequent contributor of essays and commentary to newyorker.com. She is the author of “My Life in Middlemarch” (2014), a New York Times bestseller; and “One Perfect Day: The Selling of the American Wedding” (2007). In 2018, Mead returned to England after three decades living in New York City. She is at work on a non-fiction book about that transition. Photo Credit: James Prochnik.