Last night I went into the kitchen and announced: “I really like Tanzania.” My poor, deluded brain had been locked into dream-space whilst I had been battling it out on Puzzle Quest. While my fingers had been busy pairing up gems and fighting wyverns, another part of me had been in Tanzania on a veranda, er, playing Puzzle Quest. Needless to say, I was ordered to bed and slept until 1pm today. But I still really like Tanzania.
Saturday linkage: Not All Men of the Future Wear Polyester Jumpsuits: “In The Antineutral Suit: Futurist Manifesto (1914), Balla railed against “neutral, ‘nice,’ [and] faded” colors, not to mention “stripes, checks, and diplomatic little dots.” Instead, Futurist attire would be “Dynamic, with textiles of dynamic patterns and colors (triangles, cones, spirals . . .) that inspire the love of danger, speed, and assault, and loathing of peace and immobility.””
Finally, Pictures of Walls. This site feeds into my preoccupation with public lettering/writing, of course. And funnily enough you also get pictures of walls there – which in turn have pictures on them. Gosh.
Sundays in February can be quite dreary – so why not dash into Mono here in Glasgow on Sunday at 8pm? Famous Scottish writers such as Alasdair Gray(!), Liz Lochhead, and Tom Leonard will be discussing the war in Iraq. As Mono also houses a record shop/informal gig venue, there will also be live music from local folk artists. Ticket is £5.
(An aside: last time I went to Mono, I ended up having dinner right next to a famous rock star, my word. And my vegan lasagna was rather bland.)
It’s Valentine’s Day today. I have already my present from my Significant Other: a facsimile of the Kelmscott Chaucer. Aww.
Equally geeky/sweet: Typecaster. “A Flash app [that] lets you drag two fonts from the left side into the stage area… to see how well the two types mix when dating (fonts available are Mistral, Papyrus, Comic Sans, Helvetica, Stencil, and American Typewriter).” I particularly like the type description of Papyrus.
The other day I was watching an interview with Peter Carey on BBC News following the Australian apology to Aborigines. I suspect BBC anticipated an in-depth interview about Australian identity and a smart post-colonial take on Australian history. Instead they got themselves a cagey author who was possibly the worst interviewee I have seen in a long time. Carey didn’t answer his questions, he rejected the interviewer’s research, he contradicted himself constantly and, let’s be frank, he came across as insufferable and self-indulgent. An absolute train-wreck of an interview.
In the wake of Peter Carey being interviewed, I sat wondering about writers and language. I always thought that if you were the Peter Carey sort of writer – i.e. acclaimed, award-winning, Booker darling, taught in universities – you would have a natural affinity for language whether spoken or written. You would effortlessly construct arguments using precise, yet beautiful language. Or am I sorely mistaken? Are writers like Peter Carey (and Martin Amis and Graham Swift and Alan Hollinghurst etc) like me? When speaking, I am still an able communicator but I feel most at ease with language when I am typing away.
Gosh, maybe writers are really just like you and me! But with an agent and a publishing deal and a NYC penthouse, of course.
Today is my birthday. I turn thirty-two – it sounds so grown-up to my ears, and yet I still feel like the child feeding the ducks in the midst of winter. Happy birthday to me because today, it really is all about me, hooray!
Okay, it is also a tiny bit about all the greetings, mails, texts and phone calls. Thank you all.
Having just finished Scarlett Thomas’ “PopCo”, I find myself longing for non-contemporary novels. I have been reading many books recently but all have all been written within the last thirty years. I long for a different sort of prose, a different perspective. And so I have been looking at my book shelves, thought about the books I have had to abandoned earlier in my life, and then I finally uncovered James Joyce’s “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man”. The choice was between “Portrait”, “Ulysses” and Sterne’s “Tristram Shandy”. Clearly I’m going for the easy option because, well, I’m like that.
But I have a credit card and access to amazon.co.uk. I also have ideas (some borrowed from Harold Bloom, others from Clifton Fadiman and finally a few picked up along the way) about what to buy. But I want to ask you for a recommendation.
written in English
nothing I will have read before (which excludes all of Austen, actually)
Feel free to add as many slightly left-field recommendations as you’d like and, if you want, your reason for recommending the novel.
In other news, I foolishly thought I would take tea with some good friends today (it is my birthday tomorrow). This led to a collapse in public and a subsequent three-hour nap. Sometimes I forget how little energy I actually do have and that I cannot just dismiss the lack of energy. Unfortunately every little action has a consequence.
Why smart songwriting is huge in Sheffield and guitar-pop thrives in Glasgow: You hear where you live? An interesting look at how geography may help shape your taste in music – whether you are aware of it or not.
Meanwhile, it’s nice to note that Hillary Clinton wants to share her political views with the part of the American public who are devoted to gossip magazines: Hillary Clinton: My Worst Outfits!. Not only is it low-brow journalism – it is also low-brow journalism that panders to stereotypes (i.e. why is nobody asking John McCain to go through his fashion mistakes?) and makes the vast mistake of underestimating women voters.
Finally, I followed the Beeb’s The Genius of Photography when it was aired last year and was very pleased when I found Jörg Colberg’s blog where he writes eloquently about fine-art photography. His What Makes a Great Portrait? stands out as a wonderful meditative essay on portrait photography. Not only does he cite many examples of portrait photography (and I should point out that some of these may not be entirely safe for work as they include nudity and violence), but Colberg explains why he thinks some photos work better than others. It is hugely inspirational and educational for an amateur photographer like myself.
Oh, and a music recommendation on the fly: Alaska in Winter is on constant rotation in our home. So gorgeous.
Heard sung outside on the street at around 9am: I do, I do, I do believe in faeries...
I finished reading Cormac McCarthy’s excellent The Road yesterday. Its sparse, exquisite prose reminded me of Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead as did the preoccupation with love and tenderness. However, while Gilead is about a place and staying there, The Road travels through nameless towns, through woods and across mountains. It deals with a world where there are no places or localities – insofar as ‘place’ is situated in time (cf. Foucault and the discussion of space/place) or in memory. McCarthy’s book is bleak, austere and shockingly beautiful. It is also a strong contender for Best Read of 2008.
Speaking of which, one of the best reads I had last year was the flawed but absolutely fascinating The End of Mr Y by Scarlett Thomas. I just picked up her PopCo and I am somewhat reassured by reviewers insisting that despite the ghastly cover, it is ‘intelligent and witty’.
Finally, astute readers with stalkerishly attention to blog-details may note that I have re-designed Fourth Edition and that it now bears an astonishing resemblance to a certain blogspot blog I kept years and years ago. What can I say? I’m retro.