In this month’s podcast, the KYD team get together remotely once again to discuss human–animal relationships and Erin Hortle’s stunning Tasman-soaked debut novel The Octopus & I (Allen & Unwin), and what we thought about the human–human relationships in the new small screen adaptation of Sally Rooney’s worldwide sensation Normal People (Stan). 

Further reading:

Read an extract from The Octopus and I.

Read our review of Normal People (the novel).

Connell’s Chain on Instagram.

After reading The Octopus and I we’d also recommend: The Animals in that Country (Laura Jean McKay), Only the Animals (Ceridwen Dovey), Flames (Robbie Arnott) and From the Wreck (Jane Rawson).

Produced by Hayley May Bracken.

Theme music: Broke For Free, ‘Something Elated’.

Stream or subscribe: Apple Podcasts / Soundcloud / Google Podcasts / Spotify / Other (RSS)

Let us know what you think by rating and reviewing in your app of choice!



Alice Cottrell: Welcome back to the Kill Your Darlings podcast. I’m KYD publisher Alice Cottrell and today I’m joined by KYD editor Alan Vaarwerk, KYD First Book Club host Ellen Cregan, and I’m also very pleased to welcome Hayley May Bracken, KYD’s new podcast producer. Hayley is a writer for the screen, radio and stage. She runs Cleanskin Cinema events and is currently recording an EP with her bandmate Kai Chen Lim. Welcome, Hayley. Today we’re going to be discussing the debut novel The Octopus and I by Erin Hortle, which is out now from Allen and Unwin, and the TV adaptation of Sally Rooney’s bestselling novel Normal People. First up we’re going to be talking about The Octopus and I which is a novel that’s written from both a human and animal perspective.

Hayley May Bracken: This is the debut novel of Erin Hortle, who’s a Tasmanian based writer. Her academic and creative writing explores humans’ relationships with the natural world, with a distinctly feminist bent.

AC: We thought it might be useful for listeners who haven’t read the book yet just to give you a brief extract from one of the animal sections of the book, which we’re gonna talk about a bit more. So this is from early on in the book and this section is from the perspective of an octopus.

My body is brimming is pulsing is purring is ready. The world moves so slowly as tide washes with inhale in exhale. It was enough before but now my body is full and I notice too much and I touch I see I taste the fish filth clotting my skin. I notice it is not clean enough for my eggs and my den so snug with its doormat of crab husks not enough for my eggs. The world sighs slowly but I need it to sway swiftly I need currents to swirl and whorl and rush.

I feel the roar pulsing and purring and promising and rumbling. I leave my den my body brimming as I ripple and spiral and snatch a scuttling crab and crush it in my beak then jet off jet on.

 So, let’s maybe start with what people were expecting from this book going in.

Alan Vaarwerk: Yeah, sure. So to give a bit of a bit of an overview, yeah, a woman named Lucy who has, before the events of the book, has kind of recovered from breast cancer and this is going from the from the book blurb, is where we find her, and she develops a deep fascination with local octopuses in her small Tasmanian town. So coming at it from this I was intrigued to see how the relationship between those two would sort of inform each other and the Tasmanian setting made me think that it was going to be, that there was going to be a kind of an environmentalist, activist angle to it, which I think bears out. But beyond that, coming in I was, yeah, really not sure how the two, the animal and the human were going to play off against each other.

Ellen Cregan: I was kind of expecting it to maybe be a bit more, like, sentimental than it was, or a bit soppy. Like it’s definitely got an experimental edge to it, as we just heard in that passage with the kind of octopus’s perspective, which was a really nice surprise, because I don’t know why but when I read the blurb I thought it might be something—I hate the term, but like a even a ‘women’s fiction’ kind of thing.

HMB: I expected from the title it to be primarily concerned with an ‘I’ and an octopus, but there are so many voices in this, and the octopus isn’t even the only animal.

AC: Yeah, I think I was surprised when a different animal came in, but I ended up really liking that actually, because I think part of the, one of the conceits of the book is that humans are, like, not the centre of the universe and it’s about exploring animals’ place in the world as well, so it made sense to me then to have this kind of multiplicity of different animals and humans and all the different perspectives sort of create this larger effect, which I really liked. I mean, I think some of the animal sections were maybe more successful for me than others—the thing I really liked about the octopus is that it’s about, like, how do you articulate the experience of a being that is very different to us, whereas some sections—like, there’s one from the perspective of a seal—felt to me much more traditional in that like, the seal was kind of, had a human attitude in a way. But it’s  really kind of brave stylistic thing to attempt, I think, and a really hard job to do, so I think particularly with the sections of the octopus, she did a great job.

HMB: It’s very ambitious. I agree, and I also found the way that when you anthropomorphise something you try and give an animal human voice, but you can tell Erin Hortle has spent a lot of time learning about these animals that she’s researched and articulated an experience that’s very different.

AV: I think it’s interesting considering, you know, the…that we are sort of in a moment where animal consciousness is kind of a theme in literature—like this year alone, like we’ve had Laura Jean McKay’s The Animals In That Country, which sort of takes a kind of a different approach to this same concept of how to, how to present the perspectives of of animals. And the way that McKay does that is, it very much highlights the otherness of, the non-humanness of animals, and the way that it’s sort of, I guess, communication isn’t necessarily understanding. And there’s no sort of direct inter-species communication in this, in this book, and so it’s not a direct comparison, but yeah, it is, it is an interesting way to, it is an interesting thing to compare the way that animal consciousness is treated in both of these books.

AC: Yeah, I agree with you Alan, that it is something that sort of seems to be making its way into literature more broadly. Just thinking of last year, Flames by Robbie Arnott had several non-human animal characters, Only the Animals, which was published a few years ago, is written from the perspective of animals. Even, I mean, in terms of non-fiction, I recently read Fathoms: The World in the Whale, which is our June First Book Club title, and that is also concerned with how can we understand the experience of animals, and how alien is that experience to us. There’s a passage actually in Fathoms where she talks about looking into the eye of a whale, when she’s on a whale watching tour, and there was a really similar bit in The Octopus and I about looking into the octopus’ eyes, and obviously we see that as kind of a window to the soul, but you know, we’re actually seeing our own reflection when we’re looking in their eyes.

HMB: Do you think perhaps it’s been spurred by the increased evidence that the emotional capacity of these animals is so much more complex than we previously knew, that it brings up the ethical questions that I think that the book broaches to think that these animals are experiencing things in ways that are not so easily dismissable?

AC: For me, I read it more as this is kind of spurred on by an increasing awareness of human impacts on the wild world, and on wild animals. Like, I think we have an increasing understanding of, you know, what humanity has done to the world, and environmental catastrophe, and how that has impacted on animals. And I think kind of it makes us relate to wild in a slightly different way, and maybe that’s, to me I read it as, you know, it was an exploration of what are these ‘wild’ animals that we’re having such an impact on. But you could, I mean, you could definitely read it in the other way, I just didn’t think about that at the time.

EC: Even though this isn’t a podcast about Fathoms, I’m also gonna mention Fathoms, I think what that and what The Octopus and I do really well is they sort of don’t anthropomorphise, so we were saying before that we have those passages with the seals and the passages with the octopus, and I think the difference between those is that the seals kind of have much more, they have sort of human feelings and connections in a way whereas the octopus, it’s very primal, and it feels like the author hasn’t tried to humanise the animal, it’s more like what we said about Laura Jean McKay’s book as well. It’s like focusing on the otherness of the animal and kind of accepting that, rather than trying to put an animal in a human plot.

HMB: I totally agree, but hearing you say it I’m prompted to think that perhaps that might have been intentional, because there are parts in The Octopus and I where they speak to how antisocial a creature the octopus is, they are so alone, where a seal is a more social creature. I was also wanted to hear what everyone had to say about the vernacular of hyper-Aussie way of speaking. I don’t think I’ve ever heard the term ‘bar up’ in a novel before, so that is a first.

AC: I’ve got to say as an English person, I don’t know what that means, what does it mean?

HMB: Bar up is an erection.

AC: Ohhh—oh no, I did think, I did get that contextually, now you say it.

AV: Yeah I don’t—I feel like I have a pretty good radar for like artificial sounding slang, and I didn’t get that here, so I mean yeah, like you say, Alice, some things that I sort of wouldn’t necessarily have heard before but could get in terms of context—give me the sense that this is a lived-in place, these aren’t interchangeable with any other place in Australia like it, it did give me the sense that we are in a specific part of the world with specific, you know, communities and concerns.

AC: Like that specificity.

EC: I didn’t think it was super noticeable, I thought she kind of weaved it all in really well, but what I did think was that a lot of the characters in here were kind of Australian archetype characters, like the old women, I feel like I kind of knew, I could think about someone that I’d known growing up who was exactly like that almost. The ability with which she did that made the vernacular less noticeable and a bit like kind of a smooth transition for me.

AC: In terms of that specificity as well, like I wondered what people thought about the kind of Tassie politics that are kind of simmering under the surface of this novel, because I found that very interesting.

EC: It was very fond of the kind of middle-ground moderate, ‘correct’ left-wing politics, like it wasn’t very kind to Jem, who’s kind of the book’s like resident greenie.

AC: Yeah, well it’s interesting isn’t it, because the Greens were founded in Tassie, but had this kind of like kind of non-political environmentalist bent when they were founded, from what I understand, which I think is where the whole ‘tree tories’ name comes from, and the party has developed into into something different, and I think you did kind of get a sense of that tension in political terms in Tassie, like there’s a section where one of the characters mentions that in school people were called ‘pubs versus hippies’, like people who went to the pub and the hippies, but then at the same time everyone likes the same things about Tassie, its beauty, and you know, camping and fishing and hiking, so there’s this funny distinction made between people who, in lots of ways, are very similar.

EC: How people think that their version of the truth is always, like, the most correct version, or their version of how a problem needs to be solved is the most correct, and like there are several people in this book who are really rigid in their thinking, and, and again, I’m specifically thinking Jem, I think, ‘they way that I do it is the way that everybody should do it, and everyone who’s not like that is essentially wrong’ and a terrible person even possibly.

AV: Yeah, I kind of think that it’s, um, I’m interested in the way that the book sort of positions environmental activism, because in some senses, especially in the early part of the book, you know, you hear Jem and Lucy sort of talking about, Lucy’s cancer means that she can no longer have kids, and they’re sort of talking through in terms of whether they even wanted them because, um, because of overpopulation, and there’s another scene earlier on in the book where Jem and his mother sort of agonise over the fruit on a pavlova, because some of it has to be imported from overseas, and what that means for supply chains—and none of it is incorrect, and it’s all sort of, you know, from environmentalist perspective…

HMB: That very refrain, you know, going back to it, of ‘you can’t think that way about these things…’

AV: Yeah…

HMB: It’s pretty convenient.

AV: I mean I guess it’s sort of designed to sort of highlight that tension and how you can be acting in good faith without necessarily, like there’s not one simple solution to so many of these things, like I think, at one stage in the book, Lucy says to Jem to not, to ‘stop thinking globally.’ I think the book does really interesting things in terms of looking at that tension, like in the one sense, yeah, everybody is a hypocrite when it comes to live completely 100 per cent sustainably, but also, it’s not a bad goal to be working towards either, I suppose.

HMB: I think the character of Lucy, the protagonist, was almost the most difficult to follow in terms of what she felt was right or wrong, in that she openly was confused. She felt obviously a profound connection to the octopus, but there was a time hunting the octopus, and thought that that was amazing to be living off the land, and was really galvanised by the sight of Flo and her friend Poppy, Greek Poppy in the novel, and how for them it was a cultural practice, how we embroider narrative around these things, like how you can have a lot of affection for an animal, one, and then eat another, it was almost speciesism.

EC: A central point in a lot of, whether it was to animals or to politics or whatever, she was kind of honing in on how people think and know another thing to be true and kind of keep them separate in their brains.

AC: And also I think, like, Lucy, her judgement of other people was often based on how she was feeling about them at the moment, rather than the thing that they were actually doing. When she’s frustrated with her partner, some of his ideas annoy her, but when she’s feeling, you know, loving towards Flo, she can kind of let go of some of those other things. So that was interesting about, you know, how our kind of ethical frameworks do have that kind of contextual reference.

AV: And I think it’s interesting as well to then take these kind of thoughts and the way that the book approaches these and then, because the other main overarching theme of the book, as well as the way that, you know, humans relate to animals and the environment, is the way that Lucy relates to her own body and the way that it sort of changes, and how she, I guess, comes to, yeah, feel within her within her own body. And so it’s interesting to have that changing between the internal and the external manifestations of how Lucy  relates to her body.

AC: Yeah, I thought that the exploration the body was done really well, like I think there was like a sensory feeling a lot of the time. It was, particularly when you are with Lucy, it was like, you know, about the cold, or the heat of the sun on her skin, or you know, the water on her body, people’s eyes on her body, her feeling in her own body. Yeah, I thought it was very grounded in that kind of physical reality in a way with that was really interesting.

AV: I found it, yeah, captivating, and I found it plays with structure in some interesting ways. It’s also, like, a real page-turner.

AC: I agree, and I think from the extract that I read you might think this was going to be like a hard or inaccessible book, like something that you were really going to have to concentrate on, but I didn’t think that was the case at all. Same as you Alan, I found it super readable and page-turny. The central relationship is, you know, fascinating and, and the kind of journey that that goes on is done in a really compelling way. So yeah, I really enjoyed it, too.

EC: I similarly to Alan, I similarly to Alan thought it was really, really well written. It is a page-turner and it just, you know, we talked around a lot, but there are so many great ideas and things to pick apart, the kind of book that you sort of, you are thinking about for a really long time after you read it, and also beautifully written.

HMB: Tasmania as character, almost. Well done, Erin Hortle.

AC: And go grab yourselves a copy, anyone listening.

HMB: The second text, Normal People. The hugely successful second novel by Sally Rooney was made into a Hulu series, which is available in Australia via Stan, was yeah, such a pleasure, may I just say, out of the gate. I was so happy that that was a, put on my radar by all of you to watch and to discuss because I loved it. Who hasn’t read the book?

AV: I haven’t, yeah, I’m coming to this as a TV-only viewer. It’s been on my kind of, the book has been on my, sort of, radar for a good couple of years, but it’s one of, or always been one of those things that I’ll get to eventually. Yeah, now I’m wondering why I didn’t get to it sooner.

HMB: Still tempted to read it, now that you’ve seen the series?

AV: Um, let’s come back to that, let’s come back to that. So for the rest of you who did read the book, were you excited about seeing it adapted to TV, or were you worried that it was going to not live up to your expectations, because that’s always the risk with a book to TV adaptation, isn’t it.

EC: I read the book and loved it, like, so much. But I couldn’t actually finish the TV series, like, I didn’t finish watching it, because I despised it. (LAUGHS) (OTHERS GASP)

AC: Contentious!

EC: I know! I thought it was beautifully shot, like, you could frame any of those shots as a photograph, and I thought the costumes are amazing, the, like, the soundtrack was amazing. I thought the actors had good chemistry, but for some reason, I just, like, I was so annoyed every time I watched it. I was just like, ‘why you so dramatic?’ And I know it’s like, it’s a drama, that’s the point. So it probably says more about my state of mind at the time of watching, but like, I just, I actually couldn’t finish watching it, it was just too, I found it too annoying, but I loved the book. I loved it.

AC: I interestingly had almost the exact opposite response, where I found the book really irritating, but I liked the TV series a lot more, and I think the TV series made me like the book a lot more. So that, I’m really fascinated by that.

AV: I mean yeah, for me, coming at it from a TV only perspective, like for those who, like me, haven’t read the book, or don’t know much about it going in, you’ve got two Irish teenagers, Marianne and Connell, who, yeah, live in a small town, and Marianne’s family is very, very kind of wealthy, and Connell’s mother is their family’s cleaner, and so because of that the two meet and begin an affair, which begins as a secret affair, and then the show kind of spans. I think maybe 3 or 4 years, they go off to university in Dublin together and should have a kind of, and the show kind of, and I guess the book as well, sort of charts their relationship through I suppose the ups and downs of being young.

HMB: It was the book that you could sort of recommend to anyone, because it’s sort of across all the demographics and across all the stores and different areas of Melbourne, often just the best seller in all the stores. And so I think that knowing that it had so many people that were already fans of the book, and that it was Sally Rooney who wrote and worked so closely with the director on the series, it was coming into being from a pretty unique standpoint to already have so many people that wanted to see.

AC: That’s true, and probably because of its popularity and the hype around it was one of the reasons why they had such amazing people on board. Like I think both of the directors have a film background, which I thought you could see, because it was so kind of filmic, it felt a lot bigger than like a half hour TV show. The cinematography was beautiful. Didn’t understand why Marianne would go for him, he’s kind of, you know, taciturn and a bit withholding, but I thought the actor just did a phenomenal job at having that kind of quietness and charisma at the same time. Yeah, things that frustrated me in the book didn’t frustrate me in in the TV series. I thought it was a really accurate depiction of how two people can really misunderstand each other, and also how young people can be really bad at communicating with one another because they’re inexperienced. I think in the book I felt a bit like ‘oh come on’, because it just to me read a bit like a series of misunderstandings, and that was quite frustrating, but.

HMB: Bit of a comedy of manners sometimes wasn’t it, in this way that felt particularly Irish a bit.

AC: Yeah, but because the acting was so strong in the TV series I kind of felt like oh, OKAY, I understand how this, you know, chain of events could actually happen now. So what did you hate about it, Ellen? I’m very curious.

EC: I just, I just thought it was so melodramatic sometimes. And again, I really…

AC: But it’s melodramatic to be a teen! (LAUGHS).

EC: I know! I know! It’s just…something about watching that on the screen really irritated me, because I like, I don’t think I’ve watched anything with that level of kind of young love drama since I probably watched Skins years ago, and that was the thing I kept thinking about, I was like, ‘oh my god, it’s like Skins’.

HMB: I can understand why it would have been difficult to watch in the way that the love scenes, you know, they’re there in real time. It’s not like in other TV series where everything’s so quick and plot driven, and it’s all sort of firing at once, so that you don’t have to sit in a moment, whereas this really sat in those moments. Well I loved that, but I can understand how you’d be like, ‘oh my god, that’s too much’.

EC: It’s just, I was writing notes as I was watching it, and I looked back and all of the notes are about stuff like ‘these actors have great chemistry, this is really, a really great way of depicting intimacy, I really like that Marianne’s wearing an orange jumper in the exam scene when everyone else’s wearing dark blue and grey.’ and the fact that I was writing stuff down like that, and I was kind of, I was really struggling to actually sit down and watch an episode and be like, ‘come on, it’s time to watch Normal People’, I just think is interesting to look back on. But as I said before, I think the production is amazing, the actors were amazing, but just something about seeing that on screen really irritated me.

AV: I really was just blown away by the, by the two actors, Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal, who played Marianne and Connell. They’re wonderful, yeah, and especially, especially Paul Mescal as Connell. It’s interesting what you were saying Alice about Connell being a bit taciturn, and a bit of an enigma in the book, whereas I sort of found in this, in the TV series, I sort of felt that I guess living out to try and be this, trying to find his people and not really succeeding and being sort of, I guess, popular and well-liked, but also lonely, and I thought the way that he could, sort of, be all those things at once, I think was, yeah, Paul Mescal just did an amazing job. Yeah, and in comparison, you sort of—and I think this, at least the TV version of Marianne, the character had that sort of aloofness, that sort of, that kind of detachment meant that it was harder to read her at any one time, but I think that, I think that is again, just very good acting on Daisy Edgar-Jones’ part, to sort of be able to be I guess mysterious without being too much of a pixie dreamgirl kind of character as well.

HMB: Being reminded of that helps frame why she might speak in such a taciturn way, I think, as well as when you get a broader context of her family life, and also the appeal of Connell is much more clear when you can see Connell. (ALL LAUGH).

AC: Connell’s chain!

HMB: Yeah, Connell’s chain.  (ALL LAUGH).

AC: It’s interesting what you were saying, Alan, because I was thinking when I was watching it, like, I wonder what the experience is like for someone watching that hasn’t read the book, because I feel like in the book Marianne was much more kind of known as a character than Connell, as I was saying, I sort of couldn’t get a grasp on Connell, but I understand what you mean that in the TV series it was kind of the other way around, but when you have that kind of, the backup character knowledge of Marianne from reading the book, it’s a bit of a different experience because you kind of know what she’s feeling, because you’ve already read, read a primer.

HMB: But there are also extra scenes that tell you Connell’s experience that are in the series that weren’t in the book. Of the phone call that he makes to her, we don’t actually hear what he says in the book, the voicemail, the very emotive voicemail that he leaves her when she is avoiding him.

AC: Oh, I didn’t realise that, I read it a while ago…

HMB: That more balanced way that it felt in the series, but I’m so happy that they didn’t have a voiceover narration. These two characters that are so in their heads and aren’t expressing themselves adequately in that way, they’re so full of emotion and ideas, but they’re still young. It would have been so tempting, I’m sure, to sort of want to just have your internal monologues sort of narrated.

AV: I didn’t think…

AC: There was a little bit of voiceover for the emails, where they had sent each other emails, and I think you kind of heard snippets of that in their voices, but obviously that’s different to a sort of traditional voice-over, but yeah, I thought the acting was so good that a lot was said, you know, just through lingering looks rather than needing to say explicitly. (LAUGHS) It’s like 80 per cent lingering looks.

AV: So many lingering looks. Yeah. I mean, I’m glad—I didn’t think about it, I didn’t think about a voice-over specifically, but I did think about how for a half an hour series, yeah, like you say, a lot of lingering looks, and do these, do these people just take themselves so seriously or is, this is what it’s like being in your, in your early 20s, like people just take themselves so seriously, I just wanted to grab them by the shoulders and say ‘just have some fun!’.

EC: Those dinner party scenes…

AC: Yeah, the uni party scenes.

EC: They were outrageous!

AC: I think one of the things I like about it though is that it takes young people seriously. I think there’s kind of, often an attitude of like ‘young love, it’s kind of not serious, or it’s over the top and it’s melodramatic’, and it is, but you know, they’re having those real feelings, and I think this, the book and the series, kind of honours those big feelings for teenagers. It doesn’t diminish them.

AV: It is interesting that you seem to either, a lot of fiction about kind of young people and young relationships is either, it is sort of either, ‘this means nothing, like, you grow out of it and become a different person’, or it’s like ‘this means everything, and what you do in high school is going to be who you are forever’. And I think this manages to, I guess, honour both of those things, but also kind of find a middle ground. Like it’s not nothing, what, you know, your relationships in high school, and the feelings that you have when you’re, when you’re a young person, it’s not nothing, but it’s also, there is also room for growth as well. And I guess you sort of see that in terms of, like, Marianne, you know, she’s a bit of a loser in high school, or is unpopular in high school I should say, and then goes to uni and finds her people. And you know, you don’t have to peak in high school, but then Connell is kind of the flipside of that, in that he goes to try and find his people, it is that sort of, leaving your small town, the world that you know, is scary, and it’s, yeah, it’s hard.

HMB: That was so heartbreaking, that scene that you reminded me of then, Alan, where he’s speaking to the university counsellor about that experience of being told in a small town you’re going to go, and you’re going to meet your people, and, and then that failure to connect? Like he knew he didn’t connect with people in his town, even though he did in the sense they had so much shared experience, but he was an introvert, and that’s very natural for people who are interested in literature, because maybe that’s how they, that’s their voice.

AC: Connell’s from high school to uni is also really about class—when he goes to Trinity, which is, you know, a hugely exclusive rich university, and about him so feeling out of his comfort zone in that kind of class environment, and I thought, I mean I still think it was really well done in the TV series, you got that sense, but it was more emphasised in the book, I think…

EC: I agree.  AC:.. I wonder if anyone else agrees.

HMB: I agree, but I also wonder if you guys felt the tension at all times, I think that’s what’s the great pleasure of Normal People, that there’s always this complex interplay of power dynamics between all the characters at any given time.

AC: I agree, it’s class, gender, sex, intellect, yeah, there’s a lot of, kind of, there’s a lot of competing power dynamics. So the last thing I kind of wanted us to discuss about this is, you know, Sally Rooney often being described as this kind of ‘voice of a generation’ now, and how a lot of books that are coming out have been described as the next Sally.

EC: It’s just kind of comparing authors to other authors, this kind of a cop out. And it puts authors in a, in like a box about what they think they should be writing, and when you’re writing what you think you should be writing you’re probably not writing the best thing you could write.

HMB: It seems like a shorthand damaging thing that serves maybe publishers trying to sell a newer novel, rather than new novelists coming up in the world.

AV: In the last, in our last podcast when we were talking about Uncanny Valley, we were, we sort of touched on the idea of Joan Didion being this benchmark for, which is often kind of just a shorthand for female essayists, and I think Sally Rooney is kind of the same thing, as a shorthand for you know, young female novelist. And I suppose if you want to sell books and if you want to market books, like, you do kind of, you know, ‘if you liked this then you’ll like this’ has been around for a long time, but it’s only the beginning of a bigger conversation, it’s not the conversation in and of itself, and it shouldn’t be a way of pitting people against each other or tearing other people down.

AC: I think we should be having, you know, just lots of different voices of a generation, and that’s the interesting thing about consuming, you know, arts and culture, is different perspectives, so I think it’s a bit reductive to just have one person be held up as the figurehead.

AV: Yeah, as soon as you having like a, you know, a young, able-bodied white person as being the voice of a whole generation, that’s a whole lot of voices that you’re not covering there, so.

AC: So would we recommend? I think I can tell who’s going to say what.

EC: I would, but I still didn’t like it myself.

HMB: I would.

AV: Yeah I would, it’s a good isolation watch, I think, it came out at sort of the right time when we were sort of, when I think as a, you know, as a viewing public I think we were ready for a bingeable, but also quite sort of measured show about a, about these two characters.

HMB: Now that you’ve seen the series and enjoyed it, do you feel you have no further explorations for that story? Or are you prompted to go back and read the book?

AV: I don’t think I will read it straight away. I think I will give it some time, because I find the characters endearing but they were also annoying, and I think I would possibly only grow more annoyed with them if I were to dive back into their story. I’m keen to read Conversations with Friends, I think that is, I’m ready for a little bit more Sally Rooney, and I, yeah, I’m keen to read more of her work.

HMB: Well, thank you so much for joining me on my first hosting experience with Kill Your Darlings, reviewing The Octopus and I by Erin Hortle, and also discussing Normal People Hulu series based on the very successful novel by Sally Rooney. Please come and join us next time.