VSlaire-Louise Bennett grew up in Wiltshire and studied literature and theater at Roehampton University before moving to Galway, where she worked in theater for several years. His essays and short fiction have appeared in several publications, including the irish time and the prickly flyand in 2013 she won first prize Mock exam news price. In 2015, she published her first collection of short stories, Pond, which was shortlisted for the Dylan Thomas Award. Her 2021 novel, Crate 19 (Vintage), was shortlisted for the Goldsmiths Prize and is now available in paperback.

1. Book

Lynne tillman

She is an American novelist, short story writer and cultural critic. Peninsula Press publishes his novels and haunted houses, published in 1987, is reissued in October. It is a novel made up of three distinct stories, each retracing a young woman’s journey towards femininity. It’s an embarrassing, painful and exhilarating time: you discover yourself as a sexual being, you see your parents, especially your mother, in a whole new, quite critical light. I love the way she portrays it all. His prose is poignant and irreverent at the same time – it’s warm, but very sharp too.

2. Coffee

Pels Cafe, Amsterdam

Pels cafe in Amsterdam
Pels cafe in Amsterdam. Photography: Jordi De Rueda Roige/Alamy

This is a 1930s style cafe bar. The interior has this beautiful, elegant simplicity: wooden floors and paneling and a curved metal counter, low frosted pendant lights and no music. They also have this locker full of papers from all over the world and people just read at this big communal table at the window. I found myself going there one morning recently and had a really good coffee and croissant and wrote a bit. I would like to be closer because I will be there often.

3. Exhibition

Bones in the Attic, Hugh Lane, Dublin

Talking to My Hair by Alice Maher.
Talking to My Hair by Alice Maher, whose work is featured in the Bones in the Attic exhibition at Hugh Lane Gallery in Dublin.

This opens on August 11 and is a group exhibition of female artists, including Alice Maher, Dorothy Cross, Ruby Wallis and Jesse Jones. When I read about it, it made me realize how distinct Irish feminism is, because Ireland has such a rich mythical heritage and social history and a different power structure than America and the UK. It raises very different concerns and issues to address, so I’m interested to see how these artworks will explore these distinct cultural sources and narratives and how they see the female experience.

4. Music

Poor kitchen

Sound artist Cucina Povera.
“Heavenly and spiritual”: sound artist Cucina Povera.

I’ve loved listening to weird music in the dark since I was a kid and heard Laurie Anderson’s O Superman late at night when I couldn’t fall asleep. It took me to this completely different dimension. Since then, I have discovered female experimental sound artists such as Pauline Oliveros, Aïsha Devi, Félicia Atkinson and Pan Daijing. I especially like the way Cucina Povera works – it’s vocal based, with lots of repeats and loops. There’s something quite heavenly about it – and spiritual – but at the same time it’s also very down to earth.

5. Activity

Swimming at Ladies Beach, Salthill, Galway

Salthill in Galway is home to the Ladies Beach.
Salthill in Galway is home to the Ladies Beach. Photograph: Reuters/Alamy

It’s a city beach – it’s crowded, it’s quite busy and bustling. I’ve been going there for years to meet friends and swim and we talk about everything that’s going on there: our work, our love lives, getting older. It’s great to talk about when looking at a large body of water; it makes me feel pretty open and makes you think expansively. We swim in all weathers and at all hours of the day, swimming in the moonlight is truly magical. I have good memories there.

6. Location

Hi-Fidelity, Berkeley, CA

Cannabis retailer Hi-Fidelity in Berkeley, California.
Cannabis retailer Hi-Fidelity in Berkeley, California. Photography: @hifigreen

I don’t usually smoke drugs; I’m not doing very well. But I was in Berkeley for a spring book festival and wanted to do something fun for my birthday. So I persuaded another writer to come to this cannabis dispensary and after some discussion with a very knowledgeable assistant, we selected a pair of flavored gummies. It was really nice to walk around the campus of the University of California at Berkeley: there are huge redwood trees and there was a strong smell of eucalyptus, which was incredible. It was much better than drinking, actually – I felt completely fine the next day.