Dense, tricky, poetic, so far, and she quotes Robert Louis Stevenson: 'Marriage is "a sort of friendship recognised by the police" ’.
Well I can imaginDense, tricky, poetic, so far, and she quotes Robert Louis Stevenson: 'Marriage is "a sort of friendship recognised by the police" ’.
Well I can imagine readers not liking this, calling it pretentious/pompous, because it deals with the big questions, what is love, life, death? It uses sometimes obscure words (to me anyway, looked up a few, eg alewife, and after I did I realised how apt they were). The narrative flows but jumps years and years and leaves out important stages. It directly quotes philosophers and thinkers and breaks up the action. But I was endlessly talking about it to my wife, sitting on a beach appropriately (it is set in beach house/shack in New England), quoting the lush and accurate descriptions of the beach and sea, and her quotes about marriage. It does have the satisfactions of a novel too, in that the characters are superbly described (particularly their ailments). It breathes with you, or you breathe with it eventually, delighted, scared, perpetually thinking about the beauty and harshness of life, and death particularly.
Could quote endlessly from it. But here's a taste (at random): She shipwrecked on the sheets. She surfaced like a dynamited bass. She opened her eyes and discovered where on their bed she had fetched up. ...more
fun book - don't usually like anthropomorphic tales, but this one of a rat that lives in a bookshop and learns to read is an exception, maybe becausefun book - don't usually like anthropomorphic tales, but this one of a rat that lives in a bookshop and learns to read is an exception, maybe because it is so literary. ...more
this book looks straight at the holocaust via the suicide of a writer, Bee, who was born in Auschwitz, and hence has the PoW number tattooed on his ththis book looks straight at the holocaust via the suicide of a writer, Bee, who was born in Auschwitz, and hence has the PoW number tattooed on his thigh at birth (the arm is too short). Somehow he survives and marries and writes but cannot live with the fact of Auschwitz, there is no way of accommodating such a revelation of man's character. The book is set in the aftermath of his suicide and how his publisher and writer friends are trying to piece together his written legacy, there's a play and fragments of writing but his agent/publisher is convinced there is a novel too. The book itself is fragmented, disjointed, passages from the play (which involve the same protagonists as the book) are cast alongside discussions of the effects of the holocaust and the impasse it presents. It's terrifying really, heart stopping but so dry and oddly humorous, a bit Beckett like. It leaves you sad and numbed. There is a heartfelt bit on the power of writing though:
But I believe in writing - nothing else; just writing. Man may live like a worm, but he writes like a god. There was a time when that secret was known, but now it has been forgotten; the world is composed of disintegrating fragments, an incoherent dark chaos, sustained by writing alone. If you have a concept of the world, if you have not yet forgotten all that has happened, that you have a world at all, it is writing that has created that for you, and ceaselessly goes on creating it; Logos, the invisible spider's thread that holds our lives together.
A Christmas present from my daughter and currently my bedside read. However it's making me so angry I can't sleep, so I'll have to move it. For instanA Christmas present from my daughter and currently my bedside read. However it's making me so angry I can't sleep, so I'll have to move it. For instance, Owen talks about how there is a derogatory programme about those on benefits, but none on tax dodgers. When Osborne talks about those who draw benefits as the same as muggers who rob you in the street, he neglects to tell you about his own scamming of the British taxpayer when he flipped his home to avoid capital gains tax, or how his firm hasn't paid tax for seven years, thus depriving the economy of around £1.6m. So he outstrips the whole of Benefits Street put together when it comes to scamming us.
Closer to home my daughter pays £600 a month for a pokey room in an ex council flat in London which has damp seeping through the walls. The landlord instead of doing his duty and tackling it with the massive profits he is making, blames the tenants for drying their clothes on the radiators. I was not surprised to hear he was a Tory councillor.
So do these people look in the mirror and confront their deep hypocrisy and feel the shame they should in profiteering from people who have no choice? No, they revel in it, they think it's normal, legit, to raid the public purses for their own greed. They live and breathe corruption and exploitation. They don't mind the stink of putrescence they fill each room with, they think up more ways to add to their, and their mates and their sponsors', already full pockets, laughing at the plights of the poor and disadvantaged. In any normal, civilised society these people would be shunned as the pariahs they are, in any normal society they would be locked up for fraud and dissembling, here, they run the country. This book tells you how they get away with it.
Perhaps being a little mean to this book because it did give me what I wanted, a summary of his life and music, adding some things to the period I alrPerhaps being a little mean to this book because it did give me what I wanted, a summary of his life and music, adding some things to the period I already knew well (1971-1982; although it finished in 2000, before 'Heathen' came out), and filling the gaps of that 1983-2000 period where I let go. And it's quite a feat too, to manage such a heaving mass of material and keep it coherent. It is filled with long quotes from the people around Bowie too at the time (although not much from the man himself) - eg. Carlos Alomar, Tony Visconti etc. It goes into all the music, how it came about, who he collaborated with ...
But it's the workaday, cliche strewn style that disgruntled: In many respects, Bolan paved the way for Bowie.. Both had ploughed similar furrows in the late 60s.
It paves and ploughs away. However you do have to admire the amount of work put in, a thorough and tricky job done well. There were many, many sources to track down, and it did what all books like this should do - sent me right back to the music, to listen to the overlooked. 'Revolution in the Head' it ain't, though....more
it was OK... Bits were good, funny, particularly the interactions between the mental health workers and our hero, but I don't think it added up somehoit was OK... Bits were good, funny, particularly the interactions between the mental health workers and our hero, but I don't think it added up somehow. I didn't always engage and with a book like this you need to. The author uses the withheld information technique and repetition to an excruciating degree and to no great effect really (had guessed). Plus confusing subplots.
Got this from our other campus' library, didn't know until it got here it was large print. Not that it mattered that much but at one point I was reading on the overcrowded commuter train, stood almost cheek to cheek with others and it said this at the top of one page (in much bigger print):
beautiful, clear, worried book. A man, Sotatsu, signs a confession to a crime he didn't commit and stops talking to anyone, including the judge at hisbeautiful, clear, worried book. A man, Sotatsu, signs a confession to a crime he didn't commit and stops talking to anyone, including the judge at his trial, policemen, jailers, and ends up executed for something he didn't do. Some time later the narrator (who has the same name as the writer) follows up on the case, interviewing the main protagonists, the family and friends of the executed man, and his enemies too. The book mainly consists of these interviews, trial proceedings, phone calls, letters written and received; these, along with photographs, make it read like a non fiction book, except at the end we learn why the narrator is so obsessed with the case, and more about Sotatsu's limited love life, and a kind of poetry bursts through the flat prose (and has a bigger impact due to that flatness), and makes the whole sing and wrench at your heart. ...more
the title story's definitely 5 stars... and so's the first one, maybe the ones in between (the title story's at the end) are more 4 star-ish, but rounthe title story's definitely 5 stars... and so's the first one, maybe the ones in between (the title story's at the end) are more 4 star-ish, but rounded up because I love this woman's writing. It's on my re-read list already.
Del-Rivo had a novel published in 1961 called 'The Furnished Room' which was made into a film by the young Michael Winner (called 'West 11'). These stories seem to pick up from there, updating its set of bohemian characters, although the first part of the first story, 'Dark Angel' is set in 1951, and concerns Kuhlman, a recurring figure in these pieces, trying to attain some transcendence but brought down by the ordinariness of his landlord's cheap furniture and vowing revenge on him. He discusses his murderous plans with his companions in 'The Hole', a cafe:
The etiquette of The Hole was that all were equal and taken at their word. Thus, one describing himself as deity or royalty was addressed as God or King without ado.
Literature, art, philosophy, religion, fashion and furniture are the subject matter of most stories, as discussed by erudite hospital porters, milkmen, would-be novelists, madmen and killers.
Kuhlman was bored and thrilled as into the night the hospital porter expounded existentialism, the milkman logical positivism, the teacher dialectical materialism. There was also a discussion about who among them was in love with whom. God said, 'Give us a fag.'
There is a strong misanthropy in many of the stories:
I cannot love humanity when the weight of its numbers oppresses and depresses me. Humans are all over the streets, the parks. They lack rarity value.
But of course the narrators/characters are human too, and as well as trying for transcendence are subject to the same irritations and desires as these unloved masses, even in old age. Thus an older woman 'falls' for her younger landlord in the last story even as he - charmingly - boots her out of her flat and sets her up in an unsuitable place round the corner. She becomes obsessed with him and there's a fine comic scene when she goes back to her old flat, and finding the locks have been changed, enters through a skylight to the bemusement of her landlord and his paramour.
The humour is wry and plentiful, and the writing is full of great little observations:
the neighbours' gravelled wall was permanent and unstable, like a DVD forever on pause.
The driver, Morgan, was a sickle moon of a man; a concavity between grizzled ringlets; a time-zapped lengthy Stuart cowboy in leather gilet and flared jeans.
A taste that was like the air on a tube platform: stale, invigorating, insomniac.
She observed the bees which were hunched like bison on the clover and knapweed in the window box.
pure nostalgia for me - I read a few of this series when it first came out in 1970/71/72 when I was 15-17, and they really turned me on (that was thepure nostalgia for me - I read a few of this series when it first came out in 1970/71/72 when I was 15-17, and they really turned me on (that was the current phrase then) to short stories and what they could accomplish. I came across this in the library where I work (well another site, as we don't have fiction at ours) - think I missed this one, but it has one of my favourite authors, Isaac Babel in it.
The Babel one (only 1) was good, but slight. Sean O'Faolain's ranged from adolescent boys and first sexual experiences to more sophisticated games of adultery. Both were excellent, and moved beyond their subject matter to more poetic epiphanies. I loved Nadine Gordimer's - 5 stars for both - exploring the South African experience in the 60s: sharp stuff. Shiva Naipaul's were more comic, fun - the pretensions of Trinidadian shopkeepers and councillors and their daughters and wives.
What a great series this was - came out 4 times a year and featured two or three stories from four writers. An excellent showcase. Someone should revive it now....more