There is no such thing as a bad Junichiro Tanizaki book. One of my favorite authors, and just had a total delight in reading this very early novella bThere is no such thing as a bad Junichiro Tanizaki book. One of my favorite authors, and just had a total delight in reading this very early novella by Tanizaki. Like his other novels, the obsession with sexuality, voyeurism, and morality is here as well. The other subtext is cinema and theater. Probably one of the first narratives dealing with film and its aesthetics as well as culture. The book reads like a story by Edogawa Rampo (my other favorite writer) in that it deals with the decadence of the fun sort. There are touches of Oscar Wilde within the story as well. Highly recommended for those who like early 20th-century Japanese literature, but also a fun page-turner book. ...more
What I know of classical music is what I hear on record/vinyl/cd. Beyond that, almost nothing. My reaction to Classical it totally musical, and the ocWhat I know of classical music is what I hear on record/vinyl/cd. Beyond that, almost nothing. My reaction to Classical it totally musical, and the occasional liner note on the back cover of the album. With curiosity, I picked up Theodor W. Adorno's "Night Music," in the hopes of learning more about this form of music as well as dipping into the brain of Adorno, one of the leading 'thinkers' of the Frankfurt School of critical theory. Adorno was also a composer, and what is interesting about "Night Music" is that it was written from the late 1920s to 1962. The essays are not organized in chronicle order, but in a manner that is very readable. The book consists of two collections of texts "Moments musicaux" and "Theory of New Music." When Adorno speaks of new music, he's not talking about Cage (who does get a brief mention in a later essay) but composers of his generation and time, for instance, Schönberg, who is the main figure in these series of writings, along with Berg, Webern, and Ravel. There is also the commentary on Beethoven, Wagner, and Bach, but the heart of the book is on the Second Viennese School of music. For one, it's interesting to read these essays knowing that they were written during a time when Schönberg and Ravel were active and doing music. One is not looking back, but at the present when these essays were written. The writing for me is readable, but also difficult due to its density and Adorno's knowledge of music. People who are either serious fans of Classical (especially 20th-century) or musicians will jump on this book with no problem, but for the guy or gal, it's a serious journey into the rabbit hole that is music. Seagull Books who published "Night Music" should get special notice for the design of the book, and their great taste in titles. Also, Wieland Hoban did a fantastic job in doing the translation from German to English. ...more
A very dense read for me. "Fibrils" is volume 3 of Michel Leiris' "The Rules of the Game" collection of memoir writing. In this volume, he mostly focuA very dense read for me. "Fibrils" is volume 3 of Michel Leiris' "The Rules of the Game" collection of memoir writing. In this volume, he mostly focuses on his trip to China and his suicide attempt. Not that he stays on those two subject matters, but they are here throughout his rambling narration and inner thoughts. The journal/memoir is very focused on the writer, Leiris, than say humorous times he spent with Andre Breton. Gossip is not what you're getting in these journals, but what you do get is a brilliant mind thinking or writing through a maze to obtain some form of knowledge. His trip to China was an incredible experience for him, but I think his attitude is very western in which how "am I affected" by such a journey. His suicide attempt due to depression over romantic relationship/family issues, is him analyzing the what, how, and why. I don't think he came to a conclusion yet I think Leiris is about the thinking as an activity than the actual thought. Lydia Davis did the translation and she's the master. ...more
I'll read anything by the late and great Glenn O'Brien. He wasn't the easiest writer to follow, since he moved around a lot from one publication to anI'll read anything by the late and great Glenn O'Brien. He wasn't the easiest writer to follow, since he moved around a lot from one publication to another, and had various positions in the commercial world for the fashion and magazine industry. I discovered him when he wrote his music column in Interview Magazine sometime in the 1970s. His wit and style came out when he wrote brief pieces on the bands that were performing in NYC during the height of the punk era. "How To Be a Man: A Guide To Style and Behavior for The Modern Gentleman" is his masterpiece.
On the surface, this is a guidebook for the guy who is trying to improve himself, but there is something textural in this book that goes very deep into one's consciousness. O'Brien wrote a column for GQ, and I suspect that this book is a collection of his writings from that publication. The interesting thing is that it starts off with the subject matter of what it is like to a male in the 21st century, but then goes off on different tangents regarding class, politics, and how one carries himself in a world that seems pointless at times. O'Brien makes sense of the chaos and gives advice in how one can handle themselves in this world of uncertainty.
O'Brien quotes Oscar Wilde (duh), Boris Vian, and various European and American authors, as well as dipping into the contemporary arts and music. His range of interest is endless, and his love for culture is like a bottomless well. It never ends. The book's format is tight chapters on specific subject matters. "Socks," "Underwear," Shirts, and so forth. It eventually springs to the topic of aging and death. Since O'Brien passed away recently, it is quite moving (and hysterical) to read these later chapters in this book. If one likes the essay writings of John Waters, then for sure, you will love Glenn O'Brien, and especially this book. Lots of good advice, but it is also a great way of spending time with a unique character.
Perhaps it's due to my mood at the moment, but "Vinyl Freak" is the best book I have read on record collecting, or to be more specific, for the love oPerhaps it's due to my mood at the moment, but "Vinyl Freak" is the best book I have read on record collecting, or to be more specific, for the love of vinyl and music discovery. First of all, I read this book due to my friend Amber Noé, who suggested to me at a bookstore. She doesn't (at the moment) share my love for the vinyl world, but still, it was sweet of her to find this book for me. Second, I may only know eight albums here that the author John Corbett writes about. All, are obscure Jazz or experimental music albums. To say that they are obscure is like saying the night is dark. I never heard of these artists or their music. So, what is the purpose of someone like me reading a book on someone's collection that is mostly, if not all, entirely unknown?
Corbett recognizes the importance of sharing one's love of a collection and showing it to someone else. He not only shows this body of work but also explains what and where they came from. It's a geek book of course, but a very generous one, where the reader doesn't feel left out of the information or more importantly, the passion of such a collection.
The book is beautifully designed in that every album he writes about we can see the record cover as well. All entries listed here are not on CD or streaming, as of the publication's date. If you're a music collector, all this will do is make one keep a list to check out later. Corbett also writes an essay on the issues of collecting and his history of his passion. There is also an excellent piece at the end of the book regarding his over-the-top passion: Sun Ra. I sense there will be a separate detailed account of that subject matter in another book by Corbett. Nevertheless, this has been a total fun read for me and made me re-think what I do with my music blog regarding my collection. Learn from the master!
Reading "Rakkóx the Billionaire & The Great Race" is like being on the planet Bizzaro in Superman comics. We on earth have our own science fictionReading "Rakkóx the Billionaire & The Great Race" is like being on the planet Bizzaro in Superman comics. We on earth have our own science fiction books, but in Bizzaro, sci-fi will be very much like these two sized-novellas. Eccentric yet very seductively pulls you into this alternative world. Rakkóx, the first story here is sort of alternate Donald Trump, a billionaire who builds an army of creatures of all sorts, who attempts to build a monument on a side of a cliff. Fantasy-like but the humor is very much feet-on-the-earth. "The Great Race" deals with a race among worm spirits against "stars" whom the winner will become gods.
Paul Scheerbart, a German architect, and the author made his own world. Perhaps thought of as the father of German Science Fiction but to me, he's more like a Raymond Roussel than anything else. ...more
Sadly Julio Cortázar is dead, which makes it unlikely for one to either have a conversation with him or being in a classroom where he's giving a talkSadly Julio Cortázar is dead, which makes it unlikely for one to either have a conversation with him or being in a classroom where he's giving a talk or lecture on literature. This new publication by New Directions will give us fans of his writing a chance to swim in his many seas of knowledge regarding Latin American literature as well as world literature. These series of talks he gave at Berkeley in 1980 is fascinating. Here you get his views on literature that took place by writers in various Latin Countries, but also, and more important to me, is thoughts on all of his published works. Not all authors can talk about their work, but Cortázar is very open to sharing his observations with this students, and the book is an excellent guide of sorts for both writers and readers.
And since I'm Boris Vian's English language publisher, it's great to know that he appreciated and loved Vian's work. ...more
A wonderful Polish new wave cinema, but in book form. Well, there are plenty of film references here that would entertain Jean-Luc Godard. Beyond thatA wonderful Polish new wave cinema, but in book form. Well, there are plenty of film references here that would entertain Jean-Luc Godard. Beyond that, this is a tale of two Polish hustlers on the make in Israel and on top of that a demanding and horrible child. There is also a dog. The dialog in the novel is fantastic, which means the translator did a great job. His name is Tomasz Mairkowicz. Hłasko is a combination of Blaise Cendrers and Charles Bukowski. If you reader, know those two names, you will not be disappointed with the writings of Hłasko. Ignore the horrible book cover illustration which makes it look like a self-help book. This is a very funny with cutting remarks on culture and society. Hłasko is a humorist who can pull himself out to look at his surroundings. In real life, he wasn't so lucky, but in his words/writings, he is a master. Read and locate him. ...more
Mina Loy, a poet, and very much a major figure in European/American arts during the DADA/Surrealist era, wrote one novel regarding the relationship beMina Loy, a poet, and very much a major figure in European/American arts during the DADA/Surrealist era, wrote one novel regarding the relationship between a female and a male painter, who is a pain-in-the-ass. The book in parts is very funny, especially with Loy's character putting down the painter as sort of a drama queen. It is also very much a book of its time and place - Paris in the early 1930s, when Andre Breton ruled the landscape. This book is very much a poet's narrative. The language is deep and rich which jumps around narrative wise, yet, the strong leading characters keeps one turning the pages. A fascinating document but essentially it works on a fictional level. Most would read this as an insider's look into the world of Surrealists - but in the end of the read/day, it's really a relationship novel between these two characters. A wonderful writer. ...more
Due to my newly interest in the Polish composer/musician Krzysztof Komeda, I discovered "Beautiful Twentysomethings" by Marek Hłasko. It may be the caDue to my newly interest in the Polish composer/musician Krzysztof Komeda, I discovered "Beautiful Twentysomethings" by Marek Hłasko. It may be the case Hłasko killed Komeda in a drunken mishap in the woods near Los Angeles in the late 1960s. Hłasko was very guilty what happened to his friend, and eventually, within a week he died in Germany. Both were friends of Roman Polanski - who is a guy that seems to have bad luck as his permanent friend.
Hłasko is described as the James Dean of Polish literature, and that may be the case, but to me, he really reminds me of the French poet and author Blaise Cendrars. Both are guys-guy and there is a certain amount of charm that runs with Hłasko, even though it sounds like he was a nightmare of a person to actually know or be a friend of. "Beautiful Twentysomethings" is Hłasko's memoir, which sometimes reads like a rant and at times literary criticism on his fellow Polish authors and Russian literature as well. He was very fond of noir films and knows a lot about the cinema. His observations on Humprey Bogart is pretty fantastic. He would have made a great film critical writer/journalist. Alas, I don't think that happened.
This is a fascinating book on what it's like to live in Poland during the 1950s, and really living the life in the rough with no dough and a heavy drinking lifestyle. He wanders over to Israel and Paris, but he is a man who doesn't really have a home. He is at home in bars, the streets, and reading books. Handsome devil he was, he could have been a world literature figure, but nothing seem to connect for him. Oddly enough this is not a depressing read, due to his character in that he's funny. Hłasko writes and expresses serious issues, but it's in the style of the wise guy in the street, who's whispering devilish things to you that can be dangerous. A fascinating post-war figure, whose insight will be welcome by those who want to study European life during those times, but also a great introduction to a very interesting writer. ...more