A letter from Marianne Brooker, author of Intervals


Dear reader, 

Intervals opens with a gift, a wish, a promise. Beginning where I least expected to begin, writing drew me back to a council flat in the early nineties and to my mum’s easy initiation into my rag-tag circle of imaginary friends. From there, we carved out a shared space: an anything-goes, us-against-the-world, never-say-never island of mutual belief. Over the years, that imaginative space expanded, just as our material world contracted. Play revealed itself as a kind of power, not so much a retreat as a refusal. But it could only get us so far.

My mum was diagnosed with primary progressive multiple sclerosis in 2009, and died from stopping eating and drinking in 2019. Intervals is an attempt at reckoning with personal, ethical and political questions of choice: what does it mean to defend one’s autonomy in a world choked by austerity, or to speak of dignity without denying the realities of dependency and doubt? The questions are not individualizing – did she jump or was she pushed? – but collective: was there even ground beneath her feet? What kind of world have we built for one another?

So much of this narrative is particular – her habits, gestures and eccentricities; the varied particulars of love and living together. But these personal aspects emerge from overlapping and common (sometimes contradictory) conditions. I wanted to write a book that captured it all: the singular and the common; the middle space between the two. 

The notion of the interval arrived early, and has been a generative space to write from. Intervals are temporary places of rupture and of rest; they are liminal, partial and in-between. Writing at intervals, outside of the day to day run of expectation and obligation, I make a deal with you, the reader. I invite you to bear loose witness – to sit with me, as close to the pain as I can get – on the condition that the story doesn’t end here, that there is yet a world to win. 

Marianne Brooker, 2024