Tentatively, Convenience's Reviews > Tales from the Theory of Angels & the Norkinshot Reader

Tales from the Theory of Angels & the Norkinshot Reader by Franz Kamin
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it was amazing
bookshelves: literature, music
Recommended for: people stuck in an intellectual ghetto

To those entirely too few people familiar w/ the work of Franz Kamin, any new release is practically an occasion for tolling bells from the steeple of a deconsecrated church. If only it cd be used for deconsecrating ALL churches, "Theory of Angels" or no "Theory of Angels". I just got this in the mail a few days ago [around May 8, 2008] from Franz & I've been too busy working to make money to have gotten very far into it yet. A more detailed review will hopefully follow when I finish reading the whole thing. Just to titillate you: This bk has scores in it. If you know Franz's music at all & love it like I do & agree w/ me that Franz's work occupies a highly original niche in the world of what I call LOW CLASSICAL MUSIC (no slight on Franz intended here) then you'll be eager to peruse this. It's possible that the excellent Station Hill Press will publish this - as they have w/ things by Franz in the past. ATTN STATION HILL: Do it!!

Ok, I took 7 wks to read this - not b/c it's long but b/c I was reading, as usual, many other things simultaneously (not to mention working 2 jobs, blah, blah..). It's AMAZING. My only 'criticism' of it is something I'll get out of the way 1st (w/ a bit of a preface):

Franz has been composing, writing, sculpting, etc, for what? 40 yrs? MORE. & yet he's very little known & WAY underpublished. He has ONE vinyl record out: "RUGUGMOOL / BEHAVIORAL DRIFT II" published by Station Hill. The LP's very professionally produced, everything about it is wonderful, there's a large group of players, the cover's meticulously made. A very important 12" for the collection of anyone seriously interested in contemporary classical music. I love it. It was probably the most ambitious recording project he ever pulled off.

But he's created a shitload of interesting music & performances since then. I've seen quite a few of them, published some (less well-produced) documents from them, performed in many of them. So what's my criticism? This bk begins w/ the text that leads into Behavioral Drift II - "I Suddenly Come to Visit... [Black New York]" & ends w/ the instructions & score for BDII. It's all very interesting but, being more familiar w/ Franz's work than the average bear, I'd rather learn more about newer work. Or just other work.

& the rest of the bk satisfies that in spades. Franz manages to combine/compact so many different things from his obviously substantial & varied life experience - & he does it w/ expert formal control. The CAPITALIZATION, the hy-phe-nation, the back & forth between styles of writing & styles of speaking & styles of thinking, the "whitehotSunspotShriekSHRIEK(needIodine)SHRIEKSHREIKSHIREKPAINagainGonedownthesameLaneagainGoneawaynOneGoneInsaneonInanePainIodine..." He expresses so much, he compresses so much, you can feel it all coursing thru the writing: the childhood alienation, the fantasies, the meetings w/ the somewhat compatibles, the pains of aging, the smatterings of math, the substance of music - it's all there. & it's very, VERY good writing.

&, don't get me wrong, I was very happy to read the Behavioral Drift II score: very interesting stuff, stuff that deserves to be performed the way Ives deserved to be performed: it's a challenging piece, but I cd play it; it's an original piece, but it has the potential to resonate w/ many if taught the right way. It's understandable that Franz wd emphasize this piece, it's a good'un, it's fantastic.

There're so many ideas in this bk, so many feelings, it's so RICH, it's so wise, it's so sad, it's so articulate. Forget everything that's popular & read this (if anyone ever publishes it!). REALLY READ THIS. It deserves yr attn. & much, MUCH more. Below's the 1st paragraph from "Valentale". It's eerie, mysterious, poignant, full of longing, full of pain:

"Now She has one. All the other girls in her school have had theirs for a long time. She had been the only one. The boys, of course, didn't need any; they had their Things - which would eventually do it for them. Dragging it along behind her, although this is not how most of the others carried theirs - kept them hidden. It was the longest one she'd ever seen. She'd found it in the gutter on the way back from lunch (knew it was hers right away: Black - most of them were mint or reddish) and not gone back to school at all, which is why she was down by the warehouses & loading docks ('Bad-Town' - daddy says don't go there) being alone, and carefully pulling (so it won't get dirty or stepped on by workers, cats, drunks & ho'es) her long black 'Death-Ribbon' proudly behind her."

That paragraph is written in a fairly 'unexpanded' style, but as the story develops so does its way of being told:

"Silents piled on top of other Silents piled on top of other Silents piled on top until- "GOO'NIGH'SWEE" (Bumsay. Bumsback. Bumlie inches away. Up on the edge of the curb, peering down, huge sufflated face, eye bloodyly stares) "GOO'NIGH'SWEE'PRINTS - mayANGELSINGTHEEEE" (Angels fuckin) singTHEE!" (must be the writer) "to... ...th 'Res-sssSnNNOORRRe" (Bumfall aSleep: Actually Dead too, which is even better.)"
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Reading Progress

May 10, 2008 – Shelved
Started Reading
June 29, 2008 – Shelved as: literature
June 29, 2008 – Shelved as: music
June 29, 2008 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-4 of 4 (4 new)

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message 1: by Eddie (new)

Eddie Watkins Never heard of this guy and now I need to check him out. Dammit!

On a side note - there's an article in today's Philly Inquirer about a very obscure local composer:


He might not be your sort, but tales of prolific obscurity are always interesting. The description of a work of his at the end sounds intriguing.

Tentatively, Convenience A cursory search just revealed 4 of Franz's bks for sale via Amazon. 2 are available from Station Hill. I publish (if I do say so myself) a great tape by him called "Scribble Music Sampler".

I looked at the article &, indeed, I'll keep an ear out for Hewitt. I agree, "prolific obscurity" is "always interesting".

message 3: by Eddie (new)

Eddie Watkins Yeah I saw those books. I'll look into getting one of them, but in the meantime I'm curious about that tape...

Tentatively, Convenience I'll send you my mailing address in a private email & if you send me something in trade I'll send a copy of the tape. I have a site for my tape publishing company: http://www.fyi.net/~anon/WdmUHome.html so you can check that out if you're interested. The 'company''s called: WIdémoUTH Tapes & it's been around since 1978 or 1979. For the entire time I've run it (since 1981) I've lost money except for ONE yr when I broke even & ONE yr when I actually made a tiny profit. Since I put the website up in 1997, I think I've had 3 sales. Anyway, the tapes were cheap until fairly recently when I upped the price to $50 - it doesn't really make a difference given how rare sales are, I cd charge $20,000 apiece. Realistically, though, I prefer barter.

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