Monday, 31 August 2015

What i read in August...

Hey Bert! What did you read in August? 
Well friend, thanks for asking...
let me see now.

Syzygy by Michael G. Coney
Got this second-hand from Troutmark, it sounded promising and i was attracted by that alluring sperm-esque front cover. Aside from one inexplicably homophobic passage, it was an enjoyably dour 70's slice of fishy sci-fi.  

The Book of Skulls by Robert Silverberg
Silverberg fucking rules, and this is him at his mid-70's best. A jivey, countercultural soup of mythology, mysticism, and cynical post-60's comedown. College kids in search of immortality in the desert. Seriously, Silverberg is truly the Laphroaig of writers.

Ongoingness by Sarah Manguso
Loved this short investigation into the nature of writing as documentation, and Sarah Manguso's own obsessive relationship with her own diary. This was so strong and meticulous, and unafraid, Manguso makes you look at your own concepts of self and time and mortaliy, all the terrifying shit and see them starkly, as impermanent but, y'know, beautiful maybe.

1982, Janine by Alasdair Gray
A novel about drinking and wanking that plays around with text and storytelling and then somehow turns into a straight-up novel that'll break your heart. Power and powerlessness, guilt, sexuality, politics, and a whole shit-heap of regret, you want to throw accusations of misogyny at it but you'd be way off. Brilliantly conceived joyful thing.

So Nude, So Dead by Ed McBain
I absolutely loved this slab of prime Fifties pulp.  Junkie wakes up next to a dead filly, who killed her and WHERE'S THE HORSE? 

Red Hot Ice by Frank Kane
A fast-paced little detective caper with an out of control blonde lush. Not bad.

A Lost Lady by Willa Cather
In some ways this felt quite slight, but people, there is so much depth here. A melancholy, sparse character-study of a mercurial woman and an elegy for passing time, lost illusions and the Old West. Willa Cather can do no wrong.

The Whole Shot: Collected Interviews with Gregory Corso
Corso will always hold a special place in this tender heart (I did my dissertation on him at uni). What a brilliant cantakerous bastard he was. And though he was possibly drunk and repeated himself quite a bit in some of these interviews, you get the FULL FORCE of his mind and spirit, the last of his gang to hold true to the Beat ideology and the streets he grew up in. 

Day of the Ram by William Campbell Gault
Jock-noir!! OhYeah, really enjoyed this, another one from the Fifties, with an ex-American football player-turned-Private Eye investigating the murder of an L.A. Ram. The Los Angeles setting really notched it up a level and gave it a bunch of period-charm.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

What i've been listening to...

Joanna Newsom
Sapokanikan (2015)
Joanna Newsom has a new album coming out this year so therefore this year is a special year and something magical is about to happen. And this lovely song.  It feels like it's been around forever doesn't it, like it's someone we knew once and have forgotten and we can listen to it and just say hello, i've missed you.   

Paul Revere & The Raiders
Revolution! (1967)
Paul Revere & The Raiders made wonderfully upbeat, catchy, discreetly intelligent garagey-pop music, every bit as good as The Monkees.  I've been listening to Revolution! a lot this week, and it keeps giving.  So much pop-smarts, personality, a dash of studio trickery, 1967 was golden, and if wasn't for that hilariously bad cover photo this album might've stood more chance of being taken seriously.  Oh, and 1968's Something Happening also has a rubbish cover, is more overtly psychedelic, and EVEN BETTER (despite what everyone says). 

John Howard
I Got My Lady (1975)
Gaaargh it's tooo catchy!!!  I bin singing this quietly to myself forever.  This is off the album Can You Hear Me OK?  Which is ace, obvs.  John Howard is a total champ.

Reg King
I'm all over Reg King's post-Action solo stuff at the moment.  Whatta dude.  Also, the Rolled Gold demos, from the scrapped last album by The Action, are unbelievably great and totally stand up on their own.  Reg had a very Small Faces-y mod-goes-white-soul voice and wrote brilliant songs that are perfect for that autumny dusky hour when you get your buzz on.  Looking For A Dream and his eponymous 1971 album are both brilliant.

Marie Laforet
Ivan, Boris et Moi (live 1969)

Sunday, 2 August 2015

What i read in July...

Goodbye July! You were bittersweet, and for a while in that first week you seduced me into thinking that I didn't like reading. You'll notice i only read very short books for a while. Short books are best anyway, aren't they you hussies.

The Mahe Circle by Georges Simenon

I do love Simenon, but the last few i'd read by him were just ok. This one was shit-hot though, and reminded me how much Simenon is capable of doing in so few pages. His characters are always somewhere on the cusp of despair and desire, and he writes about heat and claustrophobia better than anyone. Weirdly though, this little novel would just make a great holiday beach read. 

Black Leather Barbarians by Pat Stadley

Troutmark Books here in Cardiff is a mecca of second-hand books, and my good buddy bought me this little biker gang gem recently, so yeah.

Happy Endings Are All Alike by Sandra Scoppettone

I finally got around to reading this! And it was great. A YA novel from 1978 about a teenage lesbian relationship in small town America and how their friends and family react when it goes public. Harrowing in places but still totally relevant with a strong feminist and LGBT standpoint.

The Furnished Room by Laura Del-Rivo

If you love early-60's Soho then this is a great example of what that time and place felt like, that pre-Beatles existentialist bedsit grim Britain. And while it wasn't 100% successful (i was a bit disappointed that she chose to write yet another male anti-hero in this oeuvre) it did make me fascinated enough in Laura Del-Rivo to order another of her books, Daffodil On The Pavement (which looks great and DOES have a female protagonist..)

Jernigan by David Gates

This reissue (originally published in the early 90's) is out any day now, and people will be gushing about it. It pretty much deserves the hype because it is one of those great American novels which pokes at the American Dream and pops it. Jernigan is kinda a dick, and yeah this is another alcoholic dude novel, but his journey over the edge is quite enjoyably bleak and very 90's.

Mr. Weston's Good Wine by T.F. Powys

Enjoyed this! Think bawdy Christian fable meets Ray Bradbury, with a touch of Wicker Man pagany sexual shenanigans. The mysterious Mr. Weston rolls into town with his wine wagon and for one night in November time stands still. Whimsical, funny and quite saucy...a weird tale of old English village life with a totally unique, slightly disturbing, feel to it.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...