In all honesty: two pages into this book, not knowing anything about Chabon or the contents of this book, I felt this was most probably written by an...moreIn all honesty: two pages into this book, not knowing anything about Chabon or the contents of this book, I felt this was most probably written by an American pretending to be English, born and braised.
While Chabon can obviously write well, the book works as a whole piece, but I tended to get interrupted by the details really bothering me as every dialogue sounded as though Chabon had _really_ wanted to be Arthur Conan Doyle, writing about Sherlock Holmes; the title of this book is a reference to a Sherlock Holmes story.
The mystery in itself is plain and simple: where's the parrot? An old detective tries to solve everything.
A light, quick read, but painful and really, Conan Doyle's stories are infinitely better.(less)
At first, I thought I'd never get through this book. That's before I actually opened it. But when digging into it, reading it all took me three days,...moreAt first, I thought I'd never get through this book. That's before I actually opened it. But when digging into it, reading it all took me three days, which says something about how quickly this tome is read. The sentences are short, the language simple and not too staged. Even if one hates Norén and his ways, you can dig this. I mean, he doesn't paint a picture, but uses simple words that anybody can understand, and describes the purchase of a jacket and his crumbling marriage in about the same way. All in all: an interesting, not very pretentious delve into the mind of Norén, and if I were to describe the style of this, I'd say it's a mixture of Bodil Malmsten, Montaigne and Kenneth Williams.(less)
This is a collection of interviews with David Foster Wallace, which is published posthumously. DFW does these interviews either face-to-face or by e-m...moreThis is a collection of interviews with David Foster Wallace, which is published posthumously. DFW does these interviews either face-to-face or by e-mail (which he perfers, as he refers to himself as a "five-draft man").
MILLER: What were you intending to do when you started this book?
DFW: I wanted to do something sad. I’d done some funny stuff and some heavy, intellectual stuff, but I’d never done anything sad. And I wanted it not to have a single main character. The other banality would be: I wanted to do something real American, about what it’s like to live in America around the millennium.
MILLER: And what is that like?
DFW: There’s something particularly sad about it, something that doesn’t have very much to do with physical circumstances, or the economy, or any of the stuff that gets talked about in the news. It’s more like a stomach-level sadness. I see it in myself and my friends in different ways. It manifests itself as a kind of lostness. Whether it’s unique to our generation I really don’t know.
On using pop-cultural references in his writing:
MILLER: Are you trying to find similar meanings in the pop culture material you use? That sort of thing can be seen as merely clever, or shallow.
DFW: I’ve always thought of myself as a realist. I can remember fighting with my professors about it in grad school. The world that I live in consists of 250 advertisements a day and any number of unbelievably entertaining options, most of which are subsidized by corporations that want to sell me things. The whole way that the world acts on my nerve endings is bound up with stuff that the guys with leather patches on their elbows would consider pop or trivial or ephemeral. I use a fair amount of pop stuff in my fiction, but what I mean by it is nothing different than what other people mean in writing about trees and parks and having to walk to the river to get water a 100 years ago. It’s just the texture of the world I live in.
On being furry:
DFW: I’ve never had a beard. I’ve tried periodically to grow a beard, and when it resembles, you know, the armpit of a 15-year-old girl who hasn’t shaved her armpit, I shave it off.
Q: I mean, when you have something like the oil rigs “bobbing fellatially”—
DFW: Yeah, except that’s exactly how they look. [Laughs]
Q: Do you read reviews of your work
A: It’s tempting to. It’s also tempting to try and eavesdrop on people who are talking about you and don’t think you can hear them. But you almost always get your feelings hurt if you eavesdrop like this. It’s the same way with reviews. It took me a while to figure out that reviews of my work are not for me. They’re for potential book-buyers. I have a nice tight established circle of friends and associates I can send stuff to and get honest critical response that helps me make the stuff better. By the time the stuff is published, though, anything I hear about it amounts to me eavesdropping.
And, to finish off, a quote from an interviewer to DFW:
Anyway, I remember you once actually answering your phone by saying not “Hello” but “Distract me,” which struck me as the truest way to put it—when you pick up the phone, you’re leaving the submersion of good writerly concentration.
This is not a badly written book. The form is good, and it stands up. It breathes quite well.
Two main characters, a heterosexual couple, exist in a po...moreThis is not a badly written book. The form is good, and it stands up. It breathes quite well.
Two main characters, a heterosexual couple, exist in a post-apocalyptic America that quickly turns into a kind of Lord of the Flies-cum-Oryx and Crake universe, propelled by a brother, whose terrorism is a little interesting.
Sadly, I felt the book continually tried to impress, rather than move and join, the reader. Getting to where they are, socioeconomically, is never really explained, more contrived:
At the time, Frida imagined herself describing the moment. Maybe to an old friend or to her mother. Or online, as she used to do until their last year in L.A., before electricity became too expensive, before the Internet became a privilege for the very few. She had once kept a diligent online record of her life; she’d had a blog since she’d been able to write. Her brain couldn’t just let that habit go, and in her head she said, There I was, naked, my hair falling over my shoulders. But he didn’t care! He had become immune to my nakedness. The phrase was so silly, so melodramatic. Immune to my nakedness. But it was true. Cal wasn’t looking. And all at once she understood: no one was looking.
Things are supposed to feel natural, but the dialogue is forced:
She kept her eyes on the shovel. “How deep do you need to go?” He shrugged. “Deep enough.” She rolled her eyes. She hated when he offered vague, poetic answers to her questions. “Sorry.” “I didn’t get my period,” she said. Why had she just blurted it out like that? He looked at her carefully for a moment, as if willing himself to recognize her. “How late?” “Too late. Thirteen days. You know I’m always on time.”
And oh, how sad we are:
Like his wife, Bo wore a gold band on his left ring finger. So they’d been out here awhile, Frida thought, long before the world really went to shit. Hilda and Dada had given Frida their rings as a wedding present, but she and Cal had sold them not long after.
I heard people talk of how the book was great at ending wonderfully. I don't really think it did. Sadly, the best thing about this book, to me, is the cover. Otherwise: please read something else, like the mentioned books, or just don't.(less)
Så sammanfattar jag Henrik Bromanders första roman, som har stramare tyglar än seriemediet, till materialet...moreFrisk luft. Mänsklighet. Fantasi. Ärlighet.
Så sammanfattar jag Henrik Bromanders första roman, som har stramare tyglar än seriemediet, till materialets fördelar. Bromanders främsta styrka är, tycker jag, att han framställer vanliga personer som har helt vanliga tankar - och jag menar att personernas tankar inte är annat än kringelkrokiga, precis som vanliga människors tankar är.
Johan är i huvudrollen, en mobbad pojke som växer upp och börjar kroppsbygga i tonåren; det börjar lätt men eskalerar.
Även om intrigen är enkel, föll jag för Johans tankevärld, och beskrivningarna kring den och allt som händer. En kan verkligen vilja att det ska gå bra för Johan, trots att han gör fel. Och han gör rätt, som vilken människa som helst.
Som vanligt är Bromanders beskrivningar av händelser och övergångar väldigt subtila och kraftfulla. Språket som används är enkelt, och blir, i samband med att en snabbt kommer in i huvudpersonens huvud, väldigt kraftfullt. Flera gånger under läsandets gång kom jag på mig själv med att jag inte kunde lägga ifrån mig den här boken.
Boken kunde ett par, tre gånger kännas som om den stod stilla, men det varade inte länge, utan gick vidare med styrka. Rekommenderas varmt till alla. Bromander är ungefär lika välkommen i roman- som i serieform, och jag menar alltså att han är en av sveriges nu bästa författare.(less)
This book is in Swedish, but yes, I'm reviewing it in English.
It's not very pretentious, which is one of its fortés, but it lacks in the dialogue, whi...moreThis book is in Swedish, but yes, I'm reviewing it in English.
It's not very pretentious, which is one of its fortés, but it lacks in the dialogue, which feels strained and forced at best. The interchanging between the four characters is well executed, and I am a sucker for reading about characters roaming around Stockholm; it's well done.
Just like Grytt, I have also worked in the Swedish Social Services - actually I've changed Grytt's network password once, fancy that - and I recognise that "Alpen" and "Eken" are actually words from within the Social Services that refer to a registry system and a half-way house, respectively. Grytt has herself worked for a recovery facility in Västberga, Stockholm.
All in all: entertaining, real, yet the dialogue should have been more well-written, and I also think the book slacked some where pace in concerned almost half-way through the book.(less)
Simple sentences and not trying too hard - at creating interesting, complex characters and a good plot - made this book roll, and it was a very quick...moreSimple sentences and not trying too hard - at creating interesting, complex characters and a good plot - made this book roll, and it was a very quick read. A step away from what's drab in bad, older crime novels, which can at times read like a blueprint of the innards of a prejudiced mind. This one was interesting until the end.(less)
This turned out to be a straightforward trip into paranoia and horror as the lead character looks for an apartment, finds one and then meets the neigh...moreThis turned out to be a straightforward trip into paranoia and horror as the lead character looks for an apartment, finds one and then meets the neighbours. And more happens; that's just the start.
This is a relatively short novel, and as such, it does surprisingly well when being scary. I don't usually read horror stories, but this is more than that; it touches on a base human level where we don't want to disturb our neighbours yet still don't want to lose integrity.(less)
I actually won this book as part of a Goodreads giveaway, which I am grateful for.
However, the vast array of weirdness that - to me, and all of my opi...moreI actually won this book as part of a Goodreads giveaway, which I am grateful for.
However, the vast array of weirdness that - to me, and all of my opinions of this book are naturally subjective - envelops this book is just too much for me. I'm no stranger to experimental, other and new ways of thinking, but this should have been rewritten, edited and generally reined in much more; an editor was definitely needed.
I don't hate this book. It's got some things going for it, in terms of being experimental; it's a tool for trying to better yourself and doing good things, which is naturally good and loving, but where it falls flat are, among other things, when it contains texts that have been repeated throughout the book for no apparent reason (other than bad editing being the case), no references wherever are used when quasi-scientific claims or just plain nonsense is stated as fact.
The book is too experimental for its own good - I can't see somebody using it to feel better while feeling bad - and it's got some weird anti-feministic bits and a very strange references to Africans thrown in.
I didn't get the fact that the first two parts of this book were complete fiction until after a few rides into the first part; that's all what Waters...moreI didn't get the fact that the first two parts of this book were complete fiction until after a few rides into the first part; that's all what Waters wanted his trip to be, the second part is what Waters imagined how the trip would be if it were as horrible as possible, and the third part is - according to Waters - the trip as it really happened.
Yes, the third part is the most interesting. Like Chuck Palahniuk, Waters managed to gross me out in his first part (not at the start) and the second part just bored me, but the third part, where his escaped his storytelling and actually started telling the story as it happened, is far and beyond the most interesting part to me, where boredom and other persons' stories are included.
So, why is Waters going on a hitchhike and writing a book about it?
What am I trying to prove here? I mean, I’m not bored. An ex-convict woman I recently met claimed her criminal past was not a result of a bad childhood but just because she “wanted an adventure.” I do, too. Kicks. But hasn’t writing and directing fifteen movies and penning six books made me feel complete? My career dreams already came true years ago and what I do now is all gravy. Shouldn’t I be retiring rather than sticking out my thumb? Retiring to what, though? Insanity?
Will I be safe? I know serial killers routinely pick up hitchhikers and murder them, but aren’t the victims, unfortunately, usually young female hookers? Yeah, yeah, I know about Herb Baumeister, “the I-70 Strangler,” who choked at least sixteen gay men to death, but he picked them up in gay bars, not on exit ramps of truck stops. Yet I must admit even truckers I know are fairly nuts.
Well, he wasn't murderd by a serial killer. Hope I didn't spoil anything for you by writing this. On the other hand, he writes a lot about how twittered-of his adventure on the road was.
The book would have been more interesting if Waters hadn't had access to his credit cards or his smartphone.
All in all: I wish only the non-fiction part would have been in here; that's at the end of the book. Otherwise, it's a semi-interesting read. Waters is eccentric in a good way, and that's interesting to read, but his free-wheelin' fictional stories are better left to films, if you ask me.(less)
Absolutely lovely. A very easy read, and Oates has taken in Jeffrey Dahmer's story and made it something on its own without resorting to shock tactics...moreAbsolutely lovely. A very easy read, and Oates has taken in Jeffrey Dahmer's story and made it something on its own without resorting to shock tactics.(less)
Never did it. Never wanted to do it. There was no reason not to, no oppression, I wasn’t told it was wrong and I don’t think it’s wrong. I just didn’t think of it at all. I didn’t naturally want to do it, so I didn’t know it existed. By the time my hormones kicked in, at about thirteen years old, I was being felt-up by boys and that was enough for me. Bit by bit the experimentation went further until I first had sex with my regular boyfriend when I was fifteen. We were together for three years and are still friends now, which I think is nice. In all the time since my first sexual experience I haven’t masturbated, although I did try once after being nagged by friends when I complained I was lonely. But to me, masturbating when lonely is like drinking alcohol when you’re sad: it exacerbates the pain. It’s not that I don’t touch my breasts (they’re much nicer now I’ve put on a little weight) or touch between my legs or smell my fingers, I do all that, I like doing that, tucked up all warm and cosy in bed at night. But it never leads on to masturbation. Can’t be bothered. I don’t have fantasies much either – except once when I was pregnant and all hormoned up. I felt very aroused and had a violent fantasy about being fucked by a pack of rabid, wild dogs in the front garden. I later miscarried – that’ll teach me. This fantasy didn’t make me want to masturbate, I ran the scenario through my head a couple of times, wrote it down and never had a thought like it again. Honest.
Well. It opened up the book to me, and I'm not a prude. At least, that's not what I see myself as. The book is open-hearted in the sense that Albertine seems to write from the heart. She's not usually a writer, except for writing scripts and songs, but this book has content that makes up for the lack of stringency and solidity; somehow, that's what musical autobiographies often lack.
The book, as a whole, is really good because I feel that Albertine is as all people should be: not afraid of one's sexuality and searching for herself. This makes for a very interesting teenage experience, partly as she grows up during the advent of punk, and also as she tells of many interesting persons, e.g. John Beverley (Sid Vicious), whom she was very close to, Mick Jones of The Clash (whom she loved romantically), not to mention the person she later married, Malcolm McClaren and Vivianne Westwood and Don Letts.
I love how she wrote about discovering music, and art in relation to music:
When John and Yoko took their clothes off for the Two Virgins picture, their sweet, normal bodies all naked and wobbly were shocking because they were so imperfect. It was an especially brave move for Yoko; her body was dissected and derided by the press. But I got it. At last, a girl being interesting and brave.
She also writes about what is often left in the dark for us born without a uterus: the period. On it starting:
My period started the day before my thirteenth birthday. I went ballistic. I howled like a banshee, I shouted, I slammed doors – I was furious, crazed, ranting and murderous for days. This thing that had happened to me was totally unacceptable. I hated it, I didn’t want it, but I had no control over it. I couldn’t bear to live if it meant going through life bleeding every month and being weak and compromised. It was so unfair.
And on sexual beginnings:
Once when me and Nic were kissing and touching each other on a bed in someone’s house, he put his hand inside my knickers and I orgasmed immediately just from the newness of the experience. Well, I think it was an orgasm, it felt like a big twitch and then I wasn’t interested in being touched any more.
On loving music, especially certain albums, passionately:
The first album I bought when I got back from Amsterdam was an Island sampler, Nice Enough to Eat. I only had about four records because they were so expensive, but samplers were much cheaper than a normal LP, only fourteen shillings so lots of people bought them, they were important. I listened very hard to all the tracks, I never skipped songs that weren’t immediately appealing to me because I wanted to make the experience of having a new record last as long as possible. This is when I became aware of a label as a stable of artists. I trusted Island’s taste. I saw Nice Enough to Eat in an Oxfam shop the other day, it made my heart skip a beat, like I’d unexpectedly come across a very old and dear friend that I hadn’t seen for thirty years. Someone I’d told all my secrets to. The blue cover with the jumbled-up sweets spelling the bands’ names was so familiar, it meant more to me than seeing a family photograph. I bought the record again of course. Couldn’t leave it sitting there.
On getting her first STD; the story of this is testament to how honest Albertine seems and comes across:
I look into my knickers and see there is a little black dot at the base of a pubic hair. Then I realise with horror there’s a little black dot at the base of every pubic hair. I try and pick one off. It doesn’t come easily, the little bugger. I hold the speck in the palm of my hand. Phew, false alarm, it’s just a tiny pale brown scab. The squat was so dirty I must have got scabs from scratching myself all the time. But as I peer at it, the little scab grows legs and scuttles off sideways. I scream. Not an ‘Oh help I’ve seen a spider’ scream, but an ‘I am the host of living creatures! Evil parasites are burrowing into my flesh and sucking my blood!’ type of scream. A very serious and loud scream. A ‘Kill me now, I can’t bear to be conscious for one more second’ scream.
...and on having said crabs removed:
The next day, Mum sends me to the clap clinic in Praed Street, Paddington. (‘It only takes a minute at the Praed Street clinic’, ‘Rabies (from the Dogs of Love)’, the 101ers.) A nice nurse gives me a blue cotton gown and shows me where to hang my clothes, then she tells me to lie on the bed, which has a piece of white paper stretched over it. I lie down and look at the polystyrene tiles on the ceiling, daydreaming. The nurse explains patiently that I must slide my bum down the bed and put my feet through the stirrups. I start to do it, but realise this means I’ll be lying on my back with my knees bent up to my chest and my legs wide open. I look at her for reassurance, Is this really what I’m supposed to do? She nods. I wriggle my feet through the stirrups and rest my ankles on the black nylon-webbing straps. The soles of my feet are filthy, luckily they face away from the nurse. My legs are held really wide open by the stirrups, my vagina is pointing to the door. I feel as if I’m strapped to a raft on a linoleum ocean, my ankles tied to the sides. ‘Here comes the doctor,’ says the nurse as the door opens. I feel so exposed, it’s unbearable, I’m horrified, ashamed. I’ve never had my legs so wide open before, not even during sex. I’ve never been looked at down there before, never shown anyone, never even looked at it myself. The doctor appears. A man. He’s young and handsome. Why is a young handsome man a gynaecologist? He must be a pervert. I want to die. This is the most humiliating and terrible thing that has ever happened to me (ever happened to you so far). I burst into tears.
On discovering Patti Smith:
Every week I buy the NME. I find it difficult to read because the writers use such long words, but it’s not a chore because I’m interested in what they’re saying. One day I read a small piece about a singer called Patti Smith. There’s a picture. It’s the cover of Horses, her forthcoming album, a black-and-white photograph taken by Robert Mapplethorpe. I have never seen a girl who looks like this. She is my soul made visible, all the things I hide deep inside myself that can’t come out. She looks natural, confident, sexy and an individual. I don’t want to dress like her or copy her style; she gives me the confidence to express myself in my own way. On the day the album’s released – I half dread it in case the music doesn’t live up to the promise of that bold cover – I don’t go into college, I get the bus to HMV Records in Oxford Street instead. I’m so excited I feel sick. When I arrive, I see Mick Jones loitering outside the record shop. ‘What are you doing here?’ I ask. ‘Getting the Patti Smith record.’ I rush home and put the record on. It hurls through stream of consciousness, careers into poetry and dissolves into sex.
The structure of the songs is unique to her, not copies of old song structures, they’re a mixture of improvisation, landscapes, grooves, verses and choruses. She’s a private person who dares to let go in front of everyone, puts herself out there and risks falling flat on her face. Up until now girls have been so controlled and restrained. Patti Smith is abandoned. Her record translates into sound, parts of myself that I could not access, could not verbalise, could not visualise, until this moment. Listening to Horses unlocks an idea for me – girls’ sexuality can be on their own terms, for their own pleasure or creative work, not just for exploitation or to get a man. I’ve never heard a girl breathing heavily, or making noises like she’s fucking in music before (except ‘Je t’aime’ by Jane Birkin, and that record didn’t resonate with me). Hearing Patti Smith be sexual, building to an orgasmic crescendo, whilst leading a band, is so exciting. It’s emancipating. If I can take a quarter or even an eighth of what she has and not give a shit about making a fool of myself, maybe I still can do something with my life.
I love this line of hers on Mick Jones:
I can be myself with him and am loved for it, not in spite of it.
On using "shock":
Sid is into subverting signs and people’s expectations too, which is why he wears a leather jacket with a swastika marked out in studs. He isn’t so stupid as to think that persecuting Jewish people is a good idea, but he does want to upset and enrage everyone and question what they’re reacting to: the symbol, or the deed? Once we hailed a cab and the driver said he wouldn’t take us because he was Jewish and offended by the swastika on Sid’s jacket. As the cabbie drove away, Sid said to me, ‘The cunt should’ve taken us and overcharged, that would’ve been a cleverer thing to do.’
My attraction to shocking goes back to the sixties: hippies and Yippies used it a lot, comic artists like Robert Crumb, the underground magazine Oz, Lenny Bruce, Andy Warhol. I also studied history of art at school, and learnt how Surrealists and Dadaists used shock and irrational juxtaposition. All this influences my work and I try to shock in all areas of my life, especially in my drawings and clothes. Referencing sex is an easy way to shock. I walk around in little girls’ party dresses, hems slashed and ragged, armholes torn open to make them bigger, the waistline up under my chest. My bleached blonde hair is not seductive and smooth, but matted and wild, my eyes smudged with black eyeliner. I finish it all off with fishnet tights and shocking pink patent boots from the shop Sex. I’ve crossed the line from ‘sexy wild girl just fallen out of bed’ to ‘unpredictable, dangerous, unstable girl’. Not so appealing. Pippi Longstocking meets Barbarella meets juvenile delinquent. Men look at me and they are confused, they don’t know whether they want to fuck me or kill me. This sartorial ensemble really messes with their heads. Good.
On Vivienne Westwood:
Vivienne’s scary, for the reason any truthful, plain-talking person is scary – she exposes you. If you haven’t been honest with yourself, this makes you feel extremely uncomfortable, and if you are a con merchant the game is up. She’s uncompromising in every way: what she says, what she stands for, what she expects from you and how she dresses. She’s direct and judgemental with a strong northern accent that accentuates her sincerity. She has a confidence I haven’t seen in any other woman. She’s strong, opinionated and very smart. She can’t bear complacency. She’s the most inspiring person I’ve ever met. Sid told me, ‘Vivienne says you’re talented but lazy.’ I’ve worked at everything twice as hard since he said that.
Getting kicked out of her band by Sid Vicious, this happened:
I hear a phone ringing through the thick fuzzy air. It’s Thunders, asking me to join the Heartbreakers. He says to come over to the rehearsal studios right now. I’m scared, but I go anyway. That should be written on my gravestone. She was scared. But she went anyway.
I want boys to come and see us play and think I want to be part of that. Not They’re pretty or I want to fuck them but I want to be in that gang, in that band. I want boys to want to be us, not have the usual response like that one at the party in Islington the other night, he told me he played guitar. ‘I play guitar too,’ I said. ‘Great! We could do with some crumpet in our band.’ His name was Paul Weller. Mick wanted to have a go at him when I mentioned it but I thought that would make me look weak so I stopped him.
On Ari Up, when starting The Slits:
There’s another trait that adds to Ari’s liberation: she doesn’t care about being attractive to boys. She’s not bothered about looking pretty or moving seductively for them, she only does that for her own pleasure. She doesn’t see her body as a vehicle for attracting a mate, and she doesn’t squash bits of her personality to avoid overshadowing boys. I realise I’m learning a lot from her, and it would be foolish of me to dismiss her because she’s young. Since knowing Ari, I’ve become more aware of how uptight I am about my body, bodily functions, smells and nudity. Ari moves her body with the unselfconsciousness of a child, and I don’t see any reason why I can’t reclaim that feeling, even though I’m older. I’m constantly questioning stereotyping through my work but I’m still enslaved by the stereotype of femininity in my mind. (‘It’s hard to fight an enemy who has outposts in your head’ – Sally Kempton.) Ari has no such hang-ups. When we played the Music Machine in Mornington Crescent, halfway through the set she was dying for a piss, she didn’t want to leave the stage and couldn’t bear to be uncomfortable, so she just pulled down her leggings and knickers and pissed on the stage – all over the next band’s guitarist’s pedals as it happened – I was so impressed. No girl had pissed on stage before, but Ari didn’t do it to be a rebel or to shock, it was much more subversive than that: she just needed a piss. In these times when girls are so uptight and secretive about their bodies and desperately trying to be ‘feminine’, she is a revolutionary.
On when you're ready for divorce:
Married women tell me I’m making the worst mistake of my life and this is a terrible age to be divorcing: ‘You’ll never get another man.’ A very sophisticated, honey-highlighted blonde divorced mother from my daughter’s school confides in me outside the swimming pool: ‘When you’d rather live in a tent in a field than in your nice house with your husband, that’s when you’re ready for divorce.’
The first part of the book, as it's divided into "side one" and "side two", is my favourite by a long shot; the second part is interesting, but to me, Albertine's thoughts on pregnancy, miscarriage, starting up her musical life again aren't as interesting or lasting as her words on her relationship with her husband and her self-doubt.
All in all, this is one of the more individual autobiographies by a musician that I've read. I'm quite sure that Albertine has put her own words to right here, and not relied on an (eventual) editor to mould her words into shape, as everything feels home made, in a good way; it reflects the music she made as part of The Slits. This book is recommendable even to people who have never heard of The Slits, and to people who dislike autobiographies by musicians. There isn't any trying-to-be-clever here, it's life.
Even though William Reid chose not to be involved in the making of this book, his brother, Jim, did. And so did a lot of other players from the days.
H...moreEven though William Reid chose not to be involved in the making of this book, his brother, Jim, did. And so did a lot of other players from the days.
Howe writes the book pretty straight forward, dodging the usual tripe and drunken debauchery that often plagues music biographies by seeming obligatory when it's rarely so. The Mary Chain are described as a lot of moping persons who created music that defined the 1980s somewhat and influenced bands and artists for all time forth, probably.
I wish there'd have been pictures in the book - there are none, bar the cover image.
They wanted to sound like the Shangri-Las and Einstürzende Neubauten at the same time, and they somewhat did, while sounding like nothing else out there:
Musically the brothers had a voracious appetite, listening to bands such as the German industrial group Einstürzende Neubauten, The Beatles, The Birthday Party, The Doors, Dr Mix and the Remix, and 1960s girl groups like the Shangri-Las. But if they had to pick one single group who had the most impact on them, it would have been the Velvet Underground. When they brought home the The Velvet Underground And Nico album (famously bearing Andy Warhol’s image of a banana on the cover), what ensued was tantamount to a religious experience. It was sweet and bitter, ‘psycho and candy’, all on one record.
They walked off stage if bored and practically did what they wanted to do, except for cater much to the media. And they didn't like their peers very much:
‘The whole Scottish scene turns our stomach,’ says Jim. ‘The Welsh as well,’ grins William. ‘And the Irish,’ shrugs Douglas, dourly. (from a Sounds interview with Sandy Robertson, 1985)
And yes, they were viewed as different, by all:
Their parents tried to be understanding of their sons’ often insular behaviour – their mother once bought William a key-ring with the inscription ‘I’m not weird, I’m gifted’ written on it, which cheered him immeasurably.
And they didn't care much about virtuosity:
‘I don’t even think we auditioned Bobby,’ Jim Reid admits. ‘We just said, “Can you drum?” “Yeah, a wee bit.” “Right, OK.”’
Sounds like when Alan McGee thought of John Moore to join The Mary Chain:
Jim says of those early meetings: ‘We’d kind of spotted John around the place; he was almost like a weird stalker. At the Sonic Youth gig John came up and said, “I saw you the other night.” I thought, Oh God, is he coming on to me or what? What’s going on? He was a bit of a hustler, you could see that. He’d spotted the drumming spot was vacant and he was going to go for it. It was McGee as well, he said, “There’s this bloke who looks just like William, and he wears leather trousers. I think you should get him.” We’re like, “Can he drum?” “Er . . . oh, I don’t know about that.”’
...and speaking of drumming:
They actually wanted a drummer, but they couldn’t find anyone who was right. ‘We auditioned dozens of drummers,’ says Jim. ‘Purely on ability, we could have got one easily, but we wanted somebody we could spend ten weeks on a tour bus with. We kept getting these guys that started going on about what type of sticks they would use. We didn’t give a fuck what type of sticks they were going to use! It’s a bit of wood, you moron!’
The band didn't care much for being "correct" with the media:
The journalist asked how they felt about being described variously as both the best and worst group in the western hemisphere. William replied, after a contemplative pause, ‘My favourite colour is gold.’
They loved their fans, who in some cases were as saddening as the band:
Douglas Hart says: ‘I loved playing places like that because they were a bit like the places we grew up in. I remember in Preston this kid came up to me, really young, strange-looking guy, and he said, “I’d like to start a band.” I was like, “You should, you should!” And he said, “But I’ve got no friends.” God, what a thing to say. Kind of beautiful. It haunted me. I always wondered what happened to him.’ This poignant exchange must have accessed a part of Douglas that would surely have felt similarly isolated – another outsider from an outsider town – had he and the Reids not found each other in East Kilbride when they did.
On The Smiths:
The other problem for the Mary Chain, Mick observes, was that The Smiths were increasingly stealing the Mary Chain’s thunder as the decade wore on. ‘People began to see The Smiths as the band of the 1980s,’ he explains. ‘But I still think Psychocandy was one of the albums, if not the album, of the 1980s.’
On picking support acts for their tours:
‘I was friends with the label that had just signed Nine Inch Nails, TVT. The guy played me this stuff and I said, “Yes, that sounds like a band that should open for us.” I sent the records to Jim and William. They couldn’t care less: “Hey, you like them? Fine.” Couldn’t give a shit.’
All in all, the book's a labour of love and doesn't pander to the author's ego, but is about the band. Go read if you're into JAMC.(less)