Speakers Push Air

A Quarterly Report Pt 1
April 4, 2010, 9:15 am
Filed under: Reading

2010’s a quarter over already, you know, and I realise most of my blogging this year has either been to post mixes or to announce another sad death or other. So how about some lists instead, “taking the temperature of life with Dubversion?”.

So here goes.

1. Books Read January-March 2010

After a crazy amount of reading last year (when you can’t walk anywhere, you find ways to escape in your head) things on a slightly less frenetic level this year. I’ve also had to grudgingly accept that, music books aside, I just don’t seem to be able to digest non-fiction the way I used to, even if I find the subject fascinating…

Neal Stephenson – Cryptonomicon
Louise Welsh – The Cutting Room
Elmore Leonard – The Complete Western Stories
Jonathan Lethem – The Disappointment Artist (Essays)
William Faulkner – Collected Short Stories (partially read)
Ted Hughes – The Iron Man
Geoff Dyer – Yoga For People Who Can’t Be Bothered To Do It
Iain Sinclair – Dark Lanthorns (Rodinsky’s A-Z Walked Over)
Jon Ronson – The Men Who Stare At Goats
Jonatham Lethem – Chronic City
Samuel Charters – New Orleans: Playing A Jazz Chorus
Jonathan Lethem – Amnesia Moon
Joseph Conrad – Heart Of Darkness
Frank McLynn – Villa & Zapata: A Mexican Revolution (started and abandoned)
Marilynne Robinson – Housekeeping: A Novel

Peter Marshall – Demanding The Impossible: A History of Anarchism (started, again, and and abandoned, again)
JG Ballard – The Crystal World
Graham Greene – The Quiet American
Jon Savage – Teenage:  A Pre-History Of Youth Culture (yeh, you’ve guessed it… )
David Sedaris – Barrel Fever
Neal Brown – Billy Childish, A Short Study
JG Ballard – Miracles Of Life
Rachel Lichtenstein / Iain Sinclair – Rodinsky’s Room
AM Homes – This Book Will Save Your Life
Iain Sinclair – Hackney, That Rose Red Empire (abandoned for now… )
Cormac McCarthy – A Child of God
Mark Kermode – It’s Only A Movie
Loops 1
Loops 2
The Idler No 42: Smash The State
Toby Litt – Deadkidsongs (ongoing)
JG Ballard – The Complete Short Stories (likely to be ongoing for quite some time, it’s a fucking BRICK of a book… )

* The Stephenson I started the year with was pretty much a 1,000 page shaggy dog story – a lot of fun, way outside my normal reading and perfect Xms holiday fare.
* Jonathan Lethem is settling into a role as a brilliant writer of inconsequential books – he really can blind you with a sentence but his characters and plots don’t amount to much. Which isn’t to say I won’t keep on reading everything he does.
* The illustrations in The Iron Man pissed me right off – there’s no WAY  a seagull picked up a metal head that big.
* Geoff Dyer’s ace. From high art to being stuck in a Dutch toilet tripping and failing to change your trousers, it’s always interesting and readable and true.
* JG Ballard’s life’s influence on his work becomes even more obvious when you read his autobiography, which is – like most writers’ autobiographies – brilliant for most of its length and then eventually becomes a list of books published and lunches had. But what an astonishing childhood (I’ve never read Empire of the Sun because I think Christian Bale is a smirking bellend. Pick the bones out of that weird prejudice).
* Reading Iain Sinclair is a lot easier when you have at least some visual reference. Since I’ve only ever been to Hackney for gigs, squat parties or one-day festivals (ie, pretty much never sober), I just failed to get  fix on it. This is being rectified because a man like Eden has promised to draft a personalised Rough Guide To Hackney for me to plan a daytrip around. I expect I’ll end up in a basement in Beck Road being freaked out by the last remaining TOPYs who, like the Japs found in the jungle years after WWII, haven’t heard that it’s all over for sigils and Gen has got tits.
* Speaking of Sinclair, his collaboration with Lichtenstein on the Rodinsky book is inspired – she gives a moving but fairly straight account of the whole thing, Sinclair crops up like a demented Greek chorus from time to time just to add some psychogeographical flavour.
* Graham Greene is the fucking don and I feel a big phase coming on.
* Those Loops periodicals – posh music criticism from Faber / Domino Records – have got some great writing but perhaps not enough to justify the cover price. I’m just not sure what they’re trying to do, really. But I expect I’ll end up getting them all anyway.
*And finally. Dear Cormac McCarthy. As probably my favourite novelist of the day, I feel I can ask you this: If you get so irked about people calling some of your work Southern Gothic, can I suggest you refrain from writing novels about necrophiliac, crossdressing hillbillies living in a cave full of corpses in East Tennessee next to a town which has flooded. Cos that’s, y’know, just playing into their hands… Absolutely amazing book, though, so cheers. Yours, Dubversion.

1 Comment so far
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Graham Greene is SO GOOD and yet also I find his writing rather imperialistic, if that is the right phrase, which limits me somewhat to the glories of Brighton Rock. His description of a joke shop window remains an ongoing inspiration to my Blackpudlian soul.

Comment by the eggman

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