books, books, books

This is for all non-EC or peripheral-EC topics. We all know how much we love talking about 'The Man' but sometimes we have other interests.
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Otis Westinghouse
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Re: books, books, books

Postby Otis Westinghouse » Sun Sep 15, 2013 6:02 pm

Good compendium. Need to find a free slot of time for this one.
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Re: books, books, books

Postby Jack of All Parades » Tue Sep 17, 2013 10:22 am

Hope you do find the time, Otis, and do not strain the vision!

The postman has brought to my home today the ying and yang of my literary loves- Pynchon's new Bleeding Edge and the exquisitly bound Library of America edition of John Updike's Complete Short Stories[Collected Early and Later Stories] encased in a gorgeous slip case and bound firmly using high quality acid free paper and annotated to the nth degree- so parchment thin to the touch and just redolent of 'canon'. I am going to vacilate this fall between the poles of inspired satirical farce and hyper-fiction and the dean of American 'realists'. :D
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Re: books, books, books

Postby Jack of All Parades » Wed Sep 18, 2013 8:36 am

Some twenty five pages into the new Pynchon and already hooked- add a revisit to two short stories by Mr. Updke and I count that a productive evening.
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Re: books, books, books

Postby Jack of All Parades » Tue Oct 01, 2013 11:59 am

The Living Fire: New and Selected Poems by Edward Hirsch. Exceptional throughout. Simply delightful chronicles of a lived life. The voice is fresh and smart and filled with longing- for past time, past lovers, family, even history. I really like his love poems. Here is an example:

I Wish I Could Paint You

I wish I could paint you—
your lanky body, lithe, coltish, direct.
I need a brush for your hard angles
and ferocious blues and reds.
I need to stretch a fresh canvas
to catch you stretched across the bed.

I wish I could paint you
from the waist up—your gangling arms
and flat chest, your long neck
(it would take Modigliani to capture it)
that has caused you so much pain
holding up your proud head.

I wish I could paint you
from the waist down—your cheeky
ass, your cunt like the steely eye
of a warrior queen, your tall
thoroughbred legs—headlong, furious—
that have ridden me to victory.

I watch you sleeping next to me
in a patch of light, or stepping out
of the shower in the early morning,
your smile as wide as the sea
and your eyes that are deeper blue.
I wish I could paint you.

or this one on memory:

Early Sunday Morning

I used to mock my father and his chums
for getting up early on Sunday morning
and drinking coffee at a local spot
but now I’m one of those chumps.


No one cares about my old humiliations
but they go on dragging through my sleep
like a string of empty tin cans rattling
behind an abandoned car.


It’s like this: just when you think
you have forgotten that red-haired girl
who left you stranded in a parking lot
forty years ago, you wake up


early enough to see her disappearing
around the corner of your dream
on someone else’s motorcycle
roaring onto the highway at sunrise.


And so now I’m sitting in a dimly lit
café full of early morning risers
where the windows are covered with soot
and the coffee is warm and bitter.

That final image stops me dead in my tracks. A major new American voice I was previously unaware of till now. Found this copy in Amazon as a hardcover for only $1.58. Best two bucks I have spent in some time.
"....there's a merry song that starts in 'I' and ends in 'You', as many famous pop songs do....'

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Re: books, books, books

Postby Jack of All Parades » Sat Oct 05, 2013 9:20 am

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/b ... logia.html

Mr. Boyle's Second volume of Collected Stories comes out on Tuesday. It promises to be a major event this publishing season. He is giving a reading at the Chapel on The River in Cold Spring the same day. It is just five miles down the road and I plan on attending. It is a small, intimate place, situated on a bluff above the Hudson in the Highlands. My sister was married there over thirty years ago.
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Re: books, books, books

Postby Jack of All Parades » Tue Oct 08, 2013 3:11 pm

Collected Poems- Louis MacNeice. Out of Auden's shadow and deservedly so. Have been making my way through this since the summer. He is a master in so many forms and meters and a skilled rhymer. I like this one for example- "Meeting Point"- Clive James explains why:

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q= ... j-H56QSKsw

here is the poem:
Meeting Point

Time was away and somewhere else,
There were two glasses and two chairs
And two people with the one pulse
(Somebody stopped the moving stairs)
Time was away and somewhere else.

And they were neither up nor down;
The stream's music did not stop
Flowing through heather, limpid brown,
Although they sat in a coffee shop
And they were neither up nor down.

The bell was silent in the air
Holding its inverted poise -
Between the clang and clang a flower,
A brazen calyx of no noise:
The bell was silent in the air.

The camels crossed the miles of sand
That stretched around the cups and plates;
The desert was their own, they planned
To portion out the stars and dates:
The camels crossed the miles of sand.

Time was away and somewhere else.
The waiter did not come, the clock
Forgot them and the radio waltz
Came out like water from a rock:
Time was away and somewhere else.

Her fingers flicked away the ash
That bloomed again in tropic trees:
Not caring if the markets crash
When they had forests such as these,
Her fingers flicked away the ash.

God or whatever means the Good
Be praised that time can stop like this,
That what the heart has understood
Can verify in the body's peace
God or whatever means the Good.

Time was away and she was here
And life no longer what it was,
The bell was silent in the air
And all the room one glow because
Time was away and she was here.
-- Louis MacNeice

Plenty to enjoy in this book. It is nice to have a new poet to explore.
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Re: books, books, books

Postby Jack of All Parades » Wed Oct 09, 2013 7:59 pm

A splendid evening in the company of my wife and TC Boyle at a reading he gave tonight down on the banks of the Hudson River at The Chapel of Our Lady's Restoration in Cold Spring, NY. The great man was in fine form as he entertained the room in chiaroscuro lighting[and he was wearing one of his trade mark wild t-shirts with a Hugo Boss suit] by reading a recent story "The Way You Look Tonight". He had the crowd spell bound as he acted this tale of jealousy, insecurity and the restorative powers of love. He was even gracious enough to sign my copy of Water Music , purchased by an undergrad over thirty years ago inscribing it to 'a Common Reader'. That book now has pride of place in my library. And when I mentioned that perhaps in the coming decade he might be getting an early wake up call from Stockholm at this time of the year he gently acknowledged that would be nice and that he better start brushing up on his Swedish.
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Re: books, books, books

Postby Jack of All Parades » Thu Oct 10, 2013 7:19 am

News came this morning of the 2013 Nobel for Literature being awarded to Alice Munro. Most deserving. As I spent last night in the presence of a contemporary master of the short story and a reading from his Collected Vol. II, who may well someday merit the same prize, I am most pleased she was recognized for her strong achievements in that form.
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Re: books, books, books

Postby Poor Deportee » Thu Oct 10, 2013 10:15 am

Jack of All Parades wrote:News came this morning of the 2013 Nobel for Literature being awarded to Alice Munro. Most deserving. As I spent last night in the presence of a contemporary master of the short story and a reading from his Collected Vol. II, who may well someday merit the same prize, I am most pleased she was recognized for her strong achievements in that form.


Ha! Yes, kudos to this most understated and eloquent of Canadian writers - nice to see a fellow Canuck conquer the world, and so discreetly to boot :wink:
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Re: books, books, books

Postby Jack of All Parades » Thu Oct 10, 2013 3:27 pm

Poor Deportee wrote:
Jack of All Parades wrote:News came this morning of the 2013 Nobel for Literature being awarded to Alice Munro. Most deserving. As I spent last night in the presence of a contemporary master of the short story and a reading from his Collected Vol. II, who may well someday merit the same prize, I am most pleased she was recognized for her strong achievements in that form.


Ha! Yes, kudos to this most understated and eloquent of Canadian writers - nice to see a fellow Canuck conquer the world, and so discreetly to boot :wink:



Here! Here! this is a solid assessment of her importance as seen from the pages of The New Yorker where her marvelous stories have appeared over the years with astonishing regularity:

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q= ... ACTWJ8lfrA
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Re: books, books, books

Postby Jack of All Parades » Tue Oct 15, 2013 6:47 pm

Nice news earlier this morning for Ms. Russell- good on her:

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q= ... mg&cad=rja
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Re: books, books, books

Postby Jack of All Parades » Tue Nov 05, 2013 1:09 pm

Have not stopped reading just regularly sharing about my adventures but this one was a pleasant surprise- Lords of the Sea by John Hale. It is a history of how Athens became a naval power and what that ability did for the city and for the world to come. "I cannot tune a harp or play a lyre, but I know how to make a small city great." So boasted soldier/statesman Themistocles as he set about to build the largest navy in the world at that time- a huge fleet of triremes. What resulted, per Hale, was a class of men who manned Athens's Navy and who were lower in status than hoplites and horse men but as the Navy increased its power so grew a democratic element that successfully challenged the traditional Oligarchic leadership of the city. It is refreshing to think that men as diverse as Socrates, Thucydides, and Sophocles manned oars in these triremes. That Golden Age was only a fraction of time but what it accomplished still enlivens our world. It is the birth of a radical democracy because of this mighty navy. Also a 'trickle down' economic approach that actually worked. The Greeks became less insular and went out into the known and unknown world[the Black Sea and Western Europe]spreading their new ideas and technologies. This story is told in a non tedious manner and the great battles and events and people of that time unfold before you in an engaging manner.
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Re: books, books, books

Postby Jack of All Parades » Thu Nov 21, 2013 12:59 pm

Arm chair traveling these days with Timbuktu-The Sahara's Fabled City of Gold by Marq De Villiers and Sheila Hirtle. A city I have always been drawn to since a young boy. Fabled and nestled deep within my imagination. This book is a richly detailed history of the city and the surrounding country of Mali. It is filled with its trading origins in salt and precious metals, particularly gold, the origins of the Songhai Empire, the allure of the Sahara, the establishment of a justly famous Islamic learning center with its many scholars and the accumulated libraries of ancient texts that rival the collections of great universities around the world, the ethnic and religious heritage of the city from its founding in 1100ad by the Tuarags to its capture by the Morroccans in 1591 and its gradual decline since then into a sleepy backwater, its lure to Europeans over the centuries and finally the slow and gradual encroachment of the Sahara which threatens to envelop the city if the Al Queda do not. Situated just six miles from the great Niger River, it is a port city in name only- the canals that connected it to the river long vanished and filled by sand. It is a place I would love to see physically in my lifetime. It also figures prominently in a favorite book of mine- Water Music by TC Boyle- his bawdy, adventure epic of the travels of one Mungo Park in this area of Africa in the early 19th century. I had a grand old time with this book.
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Re: books, books, books

Postby Jack of All Parades » Sun Dec 15, 2013 10:42 am

Why lordy, lordy! Look who cracks the top ten for the year at The New York Times- George Saunders' Tenth of December a truly outstanding story collection and one of my favorites for the year. Also see that The Goldfinch made the list. My daughter, Justine, had good things to say about it. I also might have to look out for The Flamethrowers.:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/15/books ... ?ref=books
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Re: books, books, books

Postby Boy With A Problem » Tue Dec 17, 2013 10:36 am

^^^^^^^

Yes, very much enjoying The Flamethrowers right now.
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Re: books, books, books

Postby nicola76 » Wed Dec 18, 2013 3:21 pm

Currently working through Haruki Murakami's IQ. He is a favourite author of mine after I read The Wind Up Bird Chronicle. I'm not a huge fan of fiction, but I do find that I can completely lose myself in his books.

Also reading With Hope in Her Heart which is about Anne Williams struggle for justice for her 15 yr old son, Kevin, who died at Hillsborough. Completely heartbreaking.

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Re: books, books, books

Postby Jack of All Parades » Fri Dec 20, 2013 11:06 am

Murakami- my middle daughter's favorite author.

The three regular NY Time's book critics are out with their 2013 favorites. I just might have to pick up the Kate Atkinson for my daughter. I spotted it at the consignment store in a hardcover brand new next to our local library for all of $1.00. Yes, will have to get there later today. Also note the continued love for The Flamethrowers- Santa may have to gift me that one.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/20/books ... ?ref=books
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Re: books, books, books

Postby Jack of All Parades » Sun Dec 22, 2013 2:22 pm

James Wood has posted his favorites for 2013- more love for The Flame Throwers:

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/b ... -2013.html
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Re: books, books, books

Postby Jack of All Parades » Wed Jan 22, 2014 10:43 am

Very much immersed in poetry these days, in particular, the glorious new translation of The Divine Comedy done by Clive James. But I have found time to finish this- Soul Mining- by Daniel Lanois, his memoirs as provided by a friend to me over the holidays.

Not near as muscular or atmospheric as many of his strong record productions but it still holds one's attention, mostly. I found myself wishing he was more forthcoming about his childhood and his 'toxic' family situations. One of four children with a single mother on the run from an abusive father in Hamilton, Canada. Clearly intelligent and interested in the world around him and how it works and hums he skirts too breezely over his childhood days in his first person discursive narrative voice. I wish he had not taken too closely the admonition he makes at the end of the book that he 'is not a book writer....that he 'is a songwriter and songs tell stories'. His book would have benefited from more such stories with the same depth he has provided sonically to many of my favorite records of the past 30 years. I am greatful that he kicked Dylan's butt in '89 during the recording of "OH Mercy" and made him actually craft some decent material. That relationship flowered with "Time Out of Mind". When he talks about his favorite recording sessions I will always be a ready listener. I just wish he was as deep in his discussion of his own life.
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Re: books, books, books

Postby Poor Deportee » Sat Jan 25, 2014 2:39 pm

Jack of All Parades wrote:Very much immersed in poetry these days, in particular, the glorious new translation of The Divine Comedy done by Clive James. But I have found time to finish this- Soul Mining- by Daniel Lanois, his memoirs as provided by a friend to me over the holidays.

Not near as muscular or atmospheric as many of his strong record productions but it still holds one's attention, mostly. I found myself wishing he was more forthcoming about his childhood and his 'toxic' family situations. One of four children with a single mother on the run from an abusive father in Hamilton, Canada. Clearly intelligent and interested in the world around him and how it works and hums he skirts too breezely over his childhood days in his first person discursive narrative voice. I wish he had not taken too closely the admonition he makes at the end of the book that he 'is not a book writer....that he 'is a songwriter and songs tell stories'. His book would have benefited from more such stories with the same depth he has provided sonically to many of my favorite records of the past 30 years. I am greatful that he kicked Dylan's butt in '89 during the recording of "OH Mercy" and made him actually craft some decent material. That relationship flowered with "Time Out of Mind". When he talks about his favorite recording sessions I will always be a ready listener. I just wish he was as deep in his discussion of his own life.


Interesting points on his early years, Chris. It's clear that those years turned him into the (amazingly) self-reliant autodidact he is today - and perhaps also explain what seems to be a fundamentally 'lone wolf' cast of mind (notice the absence of any hint of life partners or serious relationships in the text, which could just be gentlemanly discretion, but could also be revealing of this very distinctive character). I don't think he's as great or evocative a prose writer as he wants to be, but the book offers engrossing accounts of his various musical adventures and conveys a distinctive sensibility - it's odd, to me, that it seems to have gone almost completely ignored, even by those fans of popular music who have been influenced by his work for so long.
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Re: books, books, books

Postby Jack of All Parades » Wed Feb 05, 2014 3:08 pm

A chance to experience TC Boyles none too shabby skills as a live reader- in this instance his participation in the latest New Yorker podcast of authors reading works by others- his choice two stories by Donald Bartheleme:

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/b ... helme.html
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Re: books, books, books

Postby ice nine » Tue Jun 24, 2014 5:29 pm

Started to read Paul Stanley's Face The Music:A Life Exposed. It turns out the makeup was to hide a deformed ear and other insecurities Paul had. I'm only a few pages into it, but it is well written and very good so far.
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Re: books, books, books

Postby Poor Deportee » Tue Jul 15, 2014 2:54 pm

I took Tom Doyle's Man on the Run out of my local library the other day and had finished it two days later. Normally, I ignore "rock books" recounting the lives of performers (preferring critical discussions of the work, when I do read about these things), but I found myself intrigued by the question posed by the book, which is: what the hell do you do after The Beatles? How does an artist both recover from the crippling nervous breakdown that assailed McCartney as The Beatles were self-destructing, and how do you re-imagine a career for yourself?

The title suggests Doyle's main hypothesis, namely that Sir Paul basically tried to run from the whole Beatles legacy. His creative answer was to go back to ground zero and re-assemble a band (Wings) that would learn on the fly, like any fledgling act, in small gigs, and hopefully end up conquering the world as The Beatles did. Of course, the whole exercise ultimately has a bit of a sham quality to it, since simply being Paul McCartney constitutes a gigantic competitive advantage in this process, and this is the flaw in the whole pretense ("Wings is a democratic band, I'm just one guy in the group" - yeah, sure, Mr. Skinflint Payer of Bills). What's I found interesting was the degree to which McCartney remained a hippy, still aglow with the Summer of Love even as the rest of the world moved on: living in rural Scotland in relatively modest quarters, smoking dope in massive quantities, happily taking on projects both gigantic (conquering the world with Wings) and absurd (re-writing "Mary had a Little Lamb" and releasing it as a single http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qaZ9s7S26qg ) and throughout being almost incredibly naïve: e.g., he nearly got murdered by roving gangs of thugs while recording "Band on the Run" in Lagos - that locale itself having been chosen on a whim - while strolling after dark despite repeated warnings about the perils of this; he got busted on a marijuana charge in Japan - and exposed himself to a real danger of seven years in jail in consequence - despite the certain knowledge that his baggage would be checked. It's like the guy honestly believes in a benevolent universe that can do him no real harm, ever. (And the image of him leading sing-alongs of "Yesterday" with fellow inmates in a Japanese prison - well, what can you say to world so surreal?). I suppose his congenital optimism has been borne out, but still, it seems an odd way to conduct one's affairs, hopping from one whim to the next, seldom pausing for any self-reflection (or self-awareness), and sorting out the messes, the triumphs from the disasters, later.

But maybe that's the only way to cope with a crushing legacy. Ignore it and refuse to second-guess your own choices as you barrel forward.

Nice to read that within three years of The Beatles' breakup, he was back to being pretty good friends with John, having long phone calls and get-togethers. That was a corrective to my prior impression that they had little to do with each other until Lennon's death. And I found it charming to imagine John Lennon listening obsessively to this ridiculously catchy song http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NnHu-WLvY5U&feature=kp (Lennon: "it's driving me crazy!!") and having it serve as one spur to his last return to the studio. (Check out that video, too! Notice Beatle Paul playing bass. He'd begun to reconcile himself to his own history by that point).

The book amounts to an affable, quick summer read about a very distinctive oddball, who did manage to re-conquer the world with Band on the Run, only to once again face that question - "now what?" The answer to this seems not really to have come until much later. But while the book is probably as close as I'll get to having some sense of McCartney as a person, Doyle fails to leave us with any particularly penetrating insights...just an interesting narrative about one phase in the career of a mildly daft pop star. One could do worse for a read on the beach.
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Re: books, books, books

Postby Jack of All Parades » Wed Jul 16, 2014 9:34 am

'Daft' is a particularly evocative word and you use it wonderfully to describe the man. He has always struck me as one of those 'naifs' who blissfully pass through their life, in this case a most charmed one. Your piece confirms for me a long held judgement that I would care little to spend any quality time with the man. Outside of his noted melodic and musical abilities I find very little in him that engages me consistently. His partner, on the other hand, would have been a pisser. A room could never contain his contradictions. And that is what makes him all the more intriguing as a musical and historical personage. Sir Paul- a sweet soul- but not someone I would cultivate as a friend. :wink:
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Re: books, books, books

Postby Poor Deportee » Wed Jul 16, 2014 10:36 am

Jack of All Parades wrote:'Daft' is a particularly evocative word and you use it wonderfully to describe the man. He has always struck me as one of those 'naifs' who blissfully pass through their life, in this case a most charmed one. Your piece confirms for me a long held judgement that I would care little to spend any quality time with the man. Outside of his noted melodic and musical abilities I find very little in him that engages me consistently. His partner, on the other hand, would have been a pisser. A room could never contain his contradictions. And that is what makes him all the more intriguing as a musical and historical personage. Sir Paul- a sweet soul- but not someone I would cultivate as a friend. :wink:


I tend to agree, Jack. Doyle interviewed Paul at some length for the book, and the fellow who emerges from those quotations would likely reinforce your impression; he comes off as almost unrelentingly facile (not to say fatuous). Paul as a dinner companion seems to be the social equivalent of a lot of his solo music, i.e., light entertainment. As far as The Beatles in general go, Paul and Ringo would be last on my dinner invitation list, George second - although I suspect he would be rather too smug for my liking - and John #1 by a country mile, along with George Martin, whom I suspect would be the best company of all.

That said, there remains the fact that he was the best friend John Lennon ever had. Therein lies a puzzler: if Lennon is so interesting, what could he find to reward him in the companionship of someone so seemingly callow? For that matter, would a character as thorny and complex as our Elvis have proclaimed "I love you, Paul!" from the stage, were McCartney truly as vacant as we think? A further stumper is how someone who lose his mother at a vulnerable age could come out of that trauma so seemingly confident that the universe was made to smile upon him. These facts lead one to wonder whether there are depths there that, for whatever reason, are not visible from the surface.

At the end of the day, just as a reader and a listener - condemned to observe from the surface - I find his "naif" quality both charming and off-putting. The charm is on fullest display in Sgt. Pepper, with its unmatched ebullience, and in songs like "Another Day" and "When I'm 64," with their exuberant generosity of spirit, their cheery empathy for ordinary folks and the joyful celebrations of the little things in life. There is much wisdom in that, and I think those sorts of songs age really well - rather better than some of Lennon's bad-assery. The off-putting element is the whole idea that, golly gee-whiz, nothing bad is ever really gonna happen to ME, now is it? which leads to abominations like "Silly Little Love Songs" and chortling fatuities like "Maxwell's Silver Hammer."
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