Just Finished: Histories by Sam Guglani


Medics are human!

So hard to remember when they are  speaking to you as though you aren’t, or when, godlike, they are fixing you.

Hard for the medics, too, when  their much of training and daily grind conspire also to create a wall of  (sometimes vital) professionalism  between them and us.

When my father-in-law had cancer we did not care one jot about the human skills of the  consultant: we just wanted Big Science to come with its battering rams and attack the disease. Later, we were touched by the kindness of the man whose medicine could not save the day, but whose shared  humanity lit Dad’s last weeks with loving concern. That loving concern, the exchange of feeling between doctor and patient, human and human, is Sam Guglani’s subject matter, both in this novel and his extra-curricula activities as an oncologist in Cheltenham, and the founder of Medicine Unboxed, which aims to engage health professionals and the public in conversation around medicine, illuminated through the arts (www.medicineunboxed.org).

I saw Sam speak a couple of weeks ago  at Gladstone’s Library , partly a  reading from the book, partly a talk about the  need  for medicine and art to meet , particularly literature, more often, and more publicly.  As he spoke I remembered some work I’d done with medical students when we had a few years’ experiment with literature modules in the School of Medicine at Liverpool – first, how hard those medical students were willing to work, something some arts students might have profitably learned from.  Second, how useful some of them found poetry. Third how distressing some members of some Shared Reading groups found it to have a student doctor in their midst – as if the enemy had shown up in your sanctuary.

It seemed to me that Sam Guglani might help spearhead a movement to change that dynamic, and I was a bit sorry that he was an oncologist: we need  him to work in mental health.

Of course, there are many humane, careful, loving people working in the discipline of psychiatry.  I know some of them. But not many people I meet through Shared Reading seem to have been in relation to them in many years engagement with Mental Health Services. Hence the distress of some group members  when finding ‘doctors’ on placement in Shared Reading groups some years ago.

After he’d finished speaking, Sam read  the opening chapter of the novel, which made a great stand alone story, strangely shocking.

I bought the book and read it last week – a set of inter-related stories from hospital; doctors, patients, cleaners, nurses, porters, doctors-as-patients, the voices are woven into a  swelling chorale: this is human life in a contemporary hospital, a workplace, the demands of being human often pressured out of kilter by the demands of  ordinary organisational any-workplace situations. Anyone at work can find the printer’s broken, IT help-desk not helpful, I haven’t managed to grab any lunch, am worried about home, or am still flustered by what happened before…but here, you are face to face with the next patient, and another test of your  often failing humanity:

They’re waiting, someone is always waiting, always wanting something from her, wanting an answer. Even now, looking away from both of them and down at the notes on her lap, Emily feels the couple sitting there tight-lipped and straight-backed, the entitled press of their stares.

She’s been falling in slow motion from the minute she walked in here, apologising but not really meaning it. No, she had meant it, she was sorry, but only just. In a contest of apologies it would be weightless: sorry to keep you waiting, sorry, you’ve months to live; sorry, these days I struggle to feel very much for you, my patients.

She’d sat next door first, hoping to read through the notes and print off a path report. But the printer had crashed again, its red light blinking after brief, hopeful whirrs. She called IT and someone young, some terribly young and relaxed-sounding girl, said it was  too late in the day, that they couldn’t possibly fix it now, surely there must be another printer? Then Nancy had arrived, telling her that Freda, their woman on the ward, was set to leave, she wouldn’t stay in for tomorrow’s MRI, that her daughter and husband were with her and they were packing up. This news, this and the sound of the clicking printer, pushed Emily from her chair and propelled her into the consultation, unprepared and flustered.


It’s  little moments like that, almost unspottable, that make Sam Guglani such an excellent human diagnostician. That the  printer could have pushed you, that the previous patient’s walking out could have propelled you into action with the next patient, like a domino fall, one into the other, with your conscious self scrabbling about behind, trying to self-question. Am I sorry? No? Yes? A bit? He is carefully observing and sescribing  humans asked to work in  overly demanding and finally inhumane situations, mostly doing their failing best.

Guglani wants to draw attention to the failings as well as the best efforts. He’s angry, often  through  the non-medical voices ithe book, the porter, the hairdresser, or here, the medical secretary:

Take Munro in our office yesterday, telling us all about Jim. I’ve some bad news everyone, he says. And even then his voice stays hollow. How must that be for a patient? Important words offered as empy sound. I stood at the back of the room and watched him as he talked at us.

‘Important words offered as empty sound… he talked at us’  Of course we all get angry about this, and it is us non-medics perhaps who feel it most. But this isn’t a critique to be applied only to senior doctors. I’ve met it often in professional, highly educated people, women aswell as men, who use it as cover, a kind of armour. As members of a civil society, we have to ask ourselves, why do such people need that armour?

For the medics, the pressure to save lives, to heal, to offer cure is a hard pressure to bear for best among us. For more on that read John Berger’s A Forunate Man. Histories would also sit well with a rereading of  Lydgate’s part in Middlemarch. Feel a weekend study group on  medics and  literature coming on…

With this novel Sam Guglani joins a fine tradition of doctor-writers – he quoted Chekov (much read in Shared Reading groups)  at the start of his talk, and I thought as  he spoke about  William Carlos Williams and Oliver Sacks. I remembered, too, the group of medical students I spent an afternoon with who berated me for thinking they had time to waste on literature – we have  blood clots and heart attacks to learn about! People could die!

Cant remember if I have written about this in The Reader magazine?  I wrote about it at the time, I know. Will dig it out and post tomorrow.

Just finished: The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead


I’d heard  good things about this novel from various sources but it was  seeing Barack Obama’s recommendation that tipped me into buying it – on  my  Kindle on the way to the  airport. But I wished I had a paper book version, as I wanted to move back and forth in the novel, reread, go back over sections… that’s not so easy  in a kindle reading.

All the same, a  terrific read,  full of anguish, horror – how could it not be, most of the story  coming from the southern slave states…but also great humanity, bravery: Cora, the  slave who escapes and runs and runs, epitomises the powerful  will to survive and find freedom. The book takes the metaphor of the underground railroad – a network of people  willing to help escaping slaves make their way to the north –  and turns it into a reality, a real railroad, really underground, by which Cora is able to cross what I think was both time and space – and take the reader  through many experiences of  many black people. So you read many horrors and much inhumanity and sheer lazy stupidity  but also moments of great strength, love and beauty. I was particularly moved by the account of communal life on the Valentine farm:

Work needn’t be suffering, it could unite folks. A bright child like Chester might thrive and prosper, as Molly and her friends did. A mother raise her daughter with love and kindness. A beautiful soul like Caesar could be anything he wanted here, all of them could be: own a spread, be a schoolteacher, fight for coloured rights. In her Georgia misery, she had pictured freedom and it had not looked like this. Freedom was a community labouring for something lovely and rare.

Here Cora finds a library  and  reads the lives of all black people:

Cora read the accounts of slaves who had been born in chains and learned their letters. Of Africans who had been stolen, torn from their homes and families, and described the miseries of their bondage and then their hair-raising escapes. She recognised their stories as her own. They were the stories of all the coloured people she had ever known, the stories of black people yet to be born, the foundations of their triumphs.

People had put all that down on paper in tiny rooms.

I thanked Colson  Whitehead for putting all that down on paper.

I’ll be buying a paper book version as soon as I get home and reading it again.


Hearing the voices, raising the standard


Hard to know what to read and write about today. Still got Lincoln in the Bardo in my mind but want to finish reading the Marvell poem. Also, have a lot of work to do and want to spend some time in the garden and am going to the match later. Can LFC beat Burnley? You know, I can’t stake my reputation on predicting that, despite my respect for – belief in – Mr Klopp.

Ok, LITB first. It’s voices. I’ve started listening to it Audible – Nick Offerman (my hero from Parks and Rec ) reads one of the lead parts, very well. Looking forward to that on my commute.

Re-reading the text  this morning, I was reminded of these lines from T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets, ‘Burnt Norton’:

Shrieking voices
Scolding, mocking, or merely chattering,
Always assail them.

That’s how it feels to read the book, which builds and  gets faster and heavier as it goes. Voices of the past, in the form of quotations from real and (I imagine) fictional ‘histories’, come at you, and tell us what we’ve known for some time now – no one view or memory is the truth. It was a moonlit night, say several accounts,  there was no moon that night, others contradict.  It’s like reading the Nehls biography of D.H.Lawrence. You see the whole reality through the multifaceted bits that all sorts of people contribute. And then the ‘characters’, like characters in a T.S.Eliot play, or in Becket or in Under Milk Wood, are not characters as we know them in a novel. They are their voices. As the reader, you have to do a lot of the work. Not complaining, I like hard book-work.

Hard but this is George Saunders so there’s also comedy and slapstick and rude bits from farting and poop to  small-scale orgies. There’s wryness, quite a lot of it. But I do not know why people say GS is a satirist. There’s heart here, there’s always heart, and there’s a  sort of disappointment too. Humans! Ha! You silly, bad people. But there is always belief in us, too. As Sian Cain writes in The Guardian, George Saunders makes us love people again. I think of  satirists as making us mock them. I want books that care about humans and  raise the standard. This book does  both.

So, how do we get to love more and mock less? We feel each other’s feelings, we imagine or experience life in someone else’s  life. When two of the book’s  leading presences enter President Lincoln in order to help him change something (I’m not telling you the story here!) a side-effect of their collaboration is  a kind of exchange of self, sympathy, empathy: feeling how if feels to be someone else, to have their particular set of experiences:

Because we were as yet intermingled with one another, traces of Mr Vollman naturally began arising in my mind and traces of me naturally began arising in his.

roger bevans iii

Never having found ourselves in that configuration before –

hans vollman

This effect was an astonishment.

roger bevans iii

I saw, as if for the first time, the great beauty of the things of this world: waterdrops in the woods around us plopped from leaf to ground; the stars were low, blue-white, tentative; the wind-scent bore traces of fire, dryweed, rivermuck; the tssking drybush rattles swelled with a peaking breeze, as some distant cross-creek sleigh-nag tossed its neck-bells.

hans vollman

I saw his Anna’s face, and understood his reluctance to leave her behind.

roger bevans iii

I desired the man-smell and the strong hold of a man.

hans vollman

The end (don’t want to spoil it) asks us to believe that it is possible for one spirit to enter another spirit’s being, thus  changing the course of human history. That’s not the final move of a satirist, that’s the move of a believer. But why wouldn’t a great writer believe this?  Isn’t putting the experiential knowledge of others lives, other centres of consciousness, into our own minds what great writing is for? Isn’t that what writing is for?










That best part of a good man’s life



A Song for Issy Bradley by Carys Bray

Another recommendation via Angie Macmillan. Recommended so heavily, in fact, that she posted it through my door the night before I was leaving for my sabbatical. I’m sorry to report my prejudices put me off before I had even opened the book. I thought the cover made it look, as a dragged-up David Walliams might say,  like a ladies book; a lightweight, slightly romantic family saga… And yet Angie had said, worth reading, you might like it. Even so, it went to the bottom of the pile and I read other things. Until I ran out of them.

And of course, Angie was right; the cover was an irrelevant (to me) marketing tool and my prejudices were, as usual, quite unhelpful.

This was a terrific novel, powerfully real and deeply moving. Hurray and very, very well done, Carys Bray. Not many contemporary writers take on religious faith as a subject. But this story of a devout Mormon family living through an immense trauma offers a lot of human depth.

You’ll think of Jeanette Winterson’s Oranges are Not the Only Fruit, if you’ve read it, because there’s a powerful portrait of a closely-knit  religious community that looks very odd to most people who are not part of it.  There’s initially a kind of spectator laughter about the weirdness of it all, which made me think the book was going to be cynical, but emphatically, it is not that. Winterson’s book is about a fight for survival but she’s an only child, and there’s only one real centre of consciousness, which – as the world it describes wants to destroy it –  must, for survival’s sake, stand outside.

That makes a difference. A Song for Issy Bradley is a family story, and it is partly about the interconnections of love within a struggling family. As Tolstoy tells us, all unhappy families are unhappy in their own way. These people may be members of a sect we don’t know much about, which at first makes them look pretty different, but they are eventually just people like us, and the ways in which the tragedy they live through plays out across and through their individual and collective consciousness is what makes the novel compelling. It’s not about Mormons, so much as a book about emotional aftermath and ongoing life.

Phil and I took turns to read this aloud. There were times where one or both of us were moved to tears, and the reading became utterly compelling. There were some parts that felt painfully close to the bone – scenes in the hospital and the undertakers, an incident that might be a rape. This was not a light read. But, as in life, there are moments of glorious hilarity which will get you through, to say nothing of playground football, Mr Rimmer’s Pioneer Wagon and the exceptionally wonderful teenage party scene which worryingly begins ‘no one had touched Zippy since Issy died.’ There are also moments of deep, sensible realism, such as this, where Jacob, aged 7, realises that humans have to learn to bear pain,

He wanted to tell Dad a story in the car but he wasn’t brave enough. The story is true, at least that’s what Sister Anderson said. It’s about one of the apostles who kept rabbits when he was a little boy. One day, when the apostle was seven, his favourite rabbit escaped. He looked for the rabbit but he couldn’t find it. Then he said a prayer and immediately a picture came into his mind and he went to the exact spot he had imagined and found the rabbit. This showed that Heavenly Father responds to the small, simple prayers of everyone.

Jacob thinks about the rabbit story and what Dad said about answers to prayers in the car. There should be stories where the answer is no. There should be stories where children pray for lost rabbits that never turn up and then people might get used to it an know what to do next: he doesn’t know.

A Song for Issy Bradley is one such story – there is a great big ‘no’ at its centre, where ‘death closes all.’

And yet, that great gaping hole can be combatted by the powerful ‘yes’ of ordinary, real life, those ‘little, nameless acts of kindness and of love’ as Wordsworth called them: trying to love each other and living on through it, so that finally we are not merely surviving, but also, sometimes, singing. Thank you, Carys.

New Year, Same Old


I don’t remember if I actually set out last New Year with any resolutions – in my second half century I am finally beginning to understand the hard fact that  there is no new start – but if I had formulated any aims for 2012 they would have been the same old resolutions I’ve been making and failing to achieve for decades : read every day, write every day, walk every day, don’t eat too much, think more, be kinder. When I’m in a self-confident, self-forgiving mood, which is a great deal of the time,  the apparently inevitable return of the same old problems doesn’t bother me too much:  any human life is  a work in progress, and an organic work at that, so I allow plenty of leeway and don’t make myself suffer unnecessarily. Or as  W.B.Yeats more eloquently says in Dialogue of Self and Soul;

I am content to follow to its source

Every event in action or in thought;

Measure the lot; forgive myself the lot!

When such as I cast out remorse

So great a sweetness flows into the breast

We must laugh and we must sing,

We are blest by everything,

Everything we look upon is blest.

Hhmhm, but no.  I can’t go that far – neither the measuring nor the forgiving. I love the brio of that third line  but I don’t believe in it, not for me. I cannot ‘measure the lot’  partly because I fear I would not  be able to  ‘forgive myself the lot!’ But  I would like that sweetness, and I enjoy the feeling, when it comes, of being ‘blest by everything,/everything we look upon is blest.’  I get that feeling a lot when I go outside and walk in the woods or on the beach – which is an easy hit if I can stretch the hours of daylight to accommodate it. Harder is finding time with my two grandsons, hours away in Cambridge and London. How lovely it was to spend time with them over Christmas. That’s my mother-in-law Sheila in the background, 85 years old and doing the washing up, as she always does on any family occasion.

Making bread with grandson Chester
Making bread at Christmas

As someone who has grown out of  what sometimes seems to have been a completely chaotic family, drenched at many levels in human failure, that simple feeling of ‘blest’ in a moment like the one in the photograph can be hard to accept.

But do I mean accept? I don’t think so: I accept it very, very gladly.

I mean something more like: it is hard to hang on to the knowledge that  there will be good, simple and lovely, and that it can arise from pain, and worse. I mean it is hard to believe in the possibilities of ‘blest’. Not that I don’t, just that it is hard, almost unnatural.

Two books I have been reading  have made me think about this these last few days. The second is the excellent Vintage Classics anthology,  Dickens At Christmas – where I’m reading The Haunted Man, a  long short story Brian Nellist has been recommending to me for months. I haven’t finished this yet, so I’ll come back to it. The first book that made me think about this was my Boxing Day read, Wonder by R.J. Palacio (Bodley Head)

I thought I wouldn’t like it – too American, too modern, too fashionable… but I was wrong on all counts. This is America at  its naive best,  the believing, decent, humane America of Little Women or It’s A Wonderful Life. Or to push it a bit, it’s a child’s version of dear wonderful George Saunders who is taking humane and decent and refashioning it for our hard-hearted times. But more of George another day (though don’t wait, rush over to The New Yorker and read  his exceedingly moving story The 10th of December: go now! )

But I’ll turn back to Wonder. It took me half an hours concentrated reading to get into it, and then  I was away. I read half the book on Christmas night and the rest on Boxing Day morning. Hankies are definitely required and more than once.

This is a family survival story. Auggie has a rare genetic disorder that means his face is extremely badly deformed. ‘I won’t describe what I look like,’ he tells us on page one. ‘Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.’ Most humans flinch when they see him.  Auggie has been home-schooled,  mainly because  he has spent most of his life  in hospital having operations, but partly, we assume,  because his parents have held off the  dreaded moment of  letting him enter the outside-family-world. They always knew how hard it was going to be. But now his parents are suggesting that, aged 10, he should  go to school. The novel tells how  Auggie, his parents and his, sister Via, her boyfriend Justin and Auggie’s peers and teachers survive this difficult year.  It’s harrowing but massively uplifting and the  two things are subtly intertwined : you are not reading propaganda on how to live with disability, you are reading a meditation on good and evil in the universe. Always an interesting place to be.

I won’t tell the story. I just want to point out the novel’s  tremendous emotional and psychological powers. The story is told from numerous points of view and R.J. Palacio is good at uncovering multiple meanings through many layers of experience. She is smart, intellectually and emotionally and  you sense a lot of serious adult reading has helped her to build up the layers she so carefully lays open for us. Here’s Auggie’s sister’s boyfriend, Justin.

Doesn’t that make the universe one giant lottery, then? you purchase ticket when you are born, and it’s all just random whether you get a good ticket or a bad ticket, it’s all just luck.

my head swirls on this, but then softer thoughts soothe, a like a flattened third on a major chord. no, no, it’s not all random, if it really was all random, the universe would abandon us completely. and the universe doesn’t. it takes care of its most fragile creations in ways we can’t see. like with parents who adore you blindly. and a big sister who feels guilty for being human over you. and a little gravelly-voiced kid whose friends have left him over you. and even a pink-haired girl who carries your picture in her wallet. maybe it is a lottery, but the universe makes it all even out in the end . the universe takes care of all its little birds.

I thought of  the New Testament, and I’d bet a pound that  R.J. Palacio was doing the same when she wrote that sentence. (Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. Matthew 10.29 ) But I wondered hard, as I read, as the book had asked me to, is this true or false? I thought also of Dickens, writing in Bleak House, ‘the universe makes a rather indifferent parent’  – Dickens,  that neglected child who knew with every ounce of his human body that if anyone was going to love and care for the neglected it was going to have to be another human being.  I know children who have harder lives than anyone would like to imagine here, now, in England. Is the Universe going to look after them?  It is easy to reach  for apparent realism of  ‘probably not’ and then stumble on to unbelief.  You need to take that extra leap of faith a great writer like Dickens always takes. Probably not the universe, but Mr Jarndyce or Aunt Betsy or little Dorrit, or some human soul will.

This thoughtful novel doesn’t take any easy routes, and so we find that Justin has done his growing up in a very different family:

My mom and dad got divorced when I was four and they pretty much hate each other. i grew up spending half of the week in my dad’s apartment in chelsea and the other half in my mom’s place in brooklyn heights. i have a half brother who’s five years older than me and barely knows I exist. for as long as i can remember i’ve felt like my parents could hardly wait for me to be old enough to take care of myself. ‘you can go to the store by yourself.’ ‘here’s the key to the apartment.’ it’s funny how there’s a word like overprotective to describe some parents, but no word that means the opposite. what word do you use to describe parents that don’t protect enough? underprotective? neglectful? self-involved? lame? all of the above?

Olivia’s family tell each other ‘i love you’ all the time.

I can’t remember the last time anyone in my family said that to me.

By the time I go home, my tics have all stopped.

Love is like the  Higgs Boson, isn’t it? You gotta look for it to find it. And if you don’t believe, you don’t look. First principle – believe. Round we go again. Make the same old resolution to keep looking,  be a believer.

Books are one way of learning to believe against the harder offers of one’s sometimes brutal direct experience.  You get someone else’s brutal direct experience and while it’s not your story, if it’s a half decent book, you recognise it. And the book may hold possibilities of which you hadn’t dreamed. This book is more than half decent. It’s good. Probably better if you find an intelligent and somewhat troubled child to read it to, but it surely can stand alone, however old you are. Read it and weep. You’ll be made to think and you’ll laugh too  –  that’s the wonder of it.

We must laugh and we must sing,

We are blest by everything,

Everything we look upon is blest.

Legend of A Suicide by David Vann

I read this a couple of month’s ago and am only just getting around to blogging about it, which you might think a bad sign. It’s not – I’ve simply been waiting to let it settle. But the book hasn’t settled, its stayed active in my mind – almost to the point where I might want to re-read it.

David Vann’s book is certainly worth reading at least once, and, as Lionel Shriver says on the cover of my edition, it is compulsive enough to deprive you of sleep. But for those who like their books complete and neat it will be finally unsatisfying. As a novel this book is like a part-built log cabin where someone has made a fine sturdy staircase and a pierced metal lampshade and warm patchwork quit by hand  but not built one or two of the walls or half the roof. You admire the workmanship of the lovely stuff and you wonder why about the gaps. That’s part of the story, I guess, because clever contemporary writers don’t on the whole go for the complete narrative, a la C19, but I wished it otherwise.

And yet the book worked for me because it is about an unhappy relationship between child and an unsatisfactory parent (one of my specialist areas and one about which I am still gleaning as much info as possible). It is enormously, gruesomely funny – a bonus in what is essentially an emotional horror story. Not, on many counts, one for the squeamish reader.

It’s the story of Roy, still a teenager when his often-satisfactory father commits suicide. Roy replays scenes from their shared experience and creates the legend of a suicide that gives the book its title. Serious and yet crazily playful, the book is deeply  realistic on an emotional  level and as  for the rest… who knows what to believe?

Here, Roy and his father land in a remote Alaskan wilderness  at the start of their  planned year-long boys-together adventure:

You’ll be all right, the pilot said.
Yeh, Roy said.
And I’ll come and check on you now and again.

When Roy’s father returned, he was grinning and trying not to grin, not looking  directly at Roy as they loaded the radio equipment in a watertight box, then the guns in waterproof cases the fishing gear and tools, the first of the canned goods in cases. Then it was listening to the pilot again as his father curved away, leaving a small wake behind him that was white just behind the transom but smoothed out into dark ridges, as if they could disrupt only this small part and at the edge  this place would  swallow itself again in moments. The water was very clear but deep enough even just this far out that Roy couldn’t see bottom. In close along the shore, though, at the edges of reflection, he could make out the glassy shapes beneath the wood and rock.

His father worse a red flannel hunting shirt and grey pants. He wasn’t wearing a hat, though the  air was cooler than Roy had imagined. The sun was bright on his father’s head, shining in his thin hair even from a distance. His father squinted against the morning glare, but still one side of his mouth was turned up in his grin. Roy wanted to join him, to get to land and their new home, but there were two more trips before he could go. They had packs filled with clothing in garbage bags and rain gear and boots, blankets, two lamps, more food and books. Roy had a box of  books just for school. It would be a year of home schooling: math, English, geography, social studies, history, grammar, and eight grade science, which he didn’t know how they’d  do since it  had experiments and thy didn’t have any of the  equipment. His mother had asked his father about this, and his father had not given a clear answer. Roy missed his mother and sister suddenly and  his eyes teared up, but then he saw his father pushing off the gravel beach and returning again and he made himself stop.

When he finally crawled into the boat and let go of the  pontoon, the starkness hit him. It was nothing they had now, and as he watched the plane behind them taxi in a tight circle, then  grind up loud and take off spraying over the water, he felt how long time might be, as if it could be made of air and could press in and stop itself.

Welcome to your new home, his father said, and put his hand on top of  Roy’s head, then his shoulder.

Emotionally astute, intelligent writing is rare. This book is the real deal on that front. David Vann is  a brilliant observer of micro-expressions (see Dad  grinning and trying not to grin?) and an almost cruel watcher of the almost  unnoticeable adult behaviour observed by desperate children. Very, very sad and serious, and yet diabolically funny.

Let me know what you think of it.