Wednesday 30 October 2013


Tinkers - Paul Harding

"George Washington Crosby began to hallucinate eight days before he died."
Thus begins Tinkers, a realist frame for a fantastical work. It is as if the constraints of time are wearing away as George approaches death and he visualises the future, and the collapse of the house which he built: "George imagined what he would see, as if the collapse had, in fact, already happened: the living room ceiling, now two stories high, a ragged funnel of splintered floorboards, bent copper pipes, and electrical wires that looked like severed veins bordering the walls and pointing towards him in the centre of all that sudden ruin." He projects forward to the seeming end of time itself: "Next fell the stars, tinkling about him like the ornaments of heaven shaken loose. Finally the black vastation itself came untamed and draped over the entire heap, covering George's confused obliteration."

Monday 28 October 2013

Top 102 Albums Minus 11 White Light, White Heat

Top 102 Albums Minus 11  
White Light, White Heat - The Velvet Underground

"If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry." Emily Dickinson

The most iconic band in rock history? Perhaps. Today Twitter and Facebook are ticker taped with Lou Reed thoughts, clips and eulogies as the news of Lou Reed's death spreads. It seems as shocking that he was 71 as that he has died. How could someone who seemed so contemporary have been around so long. Rock autobiography after rock autobiography includes that moment when "I first heard The Velvet Underground". It was said that they sold only a few thousand albums but that everyone who bought them went on to form a band.

Wednesday 23 October 2013

Dear Mr Capote

Dear Mr Capote - Gordon Lish

"Of course I contradict myself. I am large."

You need to take a deep breath after reading this novel. It is in the form of a letter from a serial killer/fantasist to Truman Capote, hoping to make a deal for his life story with Capote in the hope of securing a fortune for his son. It consists of an almighty barrage of cliches, flowing in torrents from the all too believable madness of the unnamed letter writer, who refers to himself as "Yours Truly".

Having had some small experience of being approached by aspiring writers it seems to me that this may have started life as an attempt to create a archetypical bad writer, full of utter confidence in their own genius and possessing, as this type does, the ability to completely ignore all evidence to the contrary.

Friday 11 October 2013

Top 102 Albums. Minus Ten. Atomizer

Top 102 Albums. Minus Ten. 
Atomizer - Big Black

This is an intense howl of disgust. It sounds like Giorgio Moroder producing Black Sabbath, the bastard progeny of Wire, Suicide, Gang of Four, Dead Kennedys and The Pop Group. It is a frighteningly cold, distant record, peeling the pie crust from the violent, idiot stew that bubbles under the thin glaze we call "civilisation".

Big Black's singer, Steve Albini has said that he first and foremost saw this as instrumental music and it is certainly the sound that hits first. It sounds like the guitar wires are about to get shredded and apparently  blood on the strings was an integral part of the Big Black live experience. Even the drum machine sounds like it's been shipping some serious steroid abuse.

Wednesday 9 October 2013

Angle of Repose

Angle of Repose - Wallace Stegner

"tonight I can sit here with the tape recorder whirring no more noisily than electrified time, and say into the microphone the place and date of a sort of beginning and a sort of return: Zodiac Cottage, Grass Valley, California, April 12, 1970."

I was reading this in conjunction with Richard at Caravana de Recuerdos who has already posted his review here. Given the fact that Tombstone and the West are key elements of the book I guess you could say that he beat me to the draw. And he shot Wallace up pretty bad too. Maybe even worse shape that the narrator of this book, the wheelchair bound Lyman Ward. My thoughts here have evolved into a long ramble which use a lot of words to say very little but they may yet be of some interest to some.

Ward is a professor of history, but a medical condition which has led to the amputation of one of his legs and given him a head like a gorgon's, always staring straight ahead. He has withdrawn to his grandparent's cottage where he is attempting to write a book on his grandmother, using her letters, his memories and his imagination to tell the story of her life and that of his grandfather, and indeed his father's too. It is made more personal as his mother died when he was two and he was brought up by his grandmother. So it is an exploration of what he inherited from Susan Ward.

Thursday 3 October 2013

Top 102 Albums. Minus Nine. Passionoia

Top 102 Albums. Minus Nine. 
Passionoia Black Box Recorder

"From passionate to paranoid"

There's acieeeed! There's Britpop. Then there's Luke Haines, a faraway look of glee in his eyes as he washes the Union Jack in a far more corrosive form of acid.

What can you expect from a man who called one of his bands Baader Meinhof and released a (essential) compilation called Luke Haines is Dead?