Ursula: Moving through 2023 with Books and Music (pt 4)

DiscussãoClub Read 2023

Entre no LibraryThing para poder publicar.

Ursula: Moving through 2023 with Books and Music (pt 4)

Editado: Set 24, 8:45 am

Konstantin-Basilikum, Trier. This was Constantine's throne room, built in 310. It is the largest surviving single room not supported by pillars.

Hello from Germany! I'm Ursula, 52 years old. I've been married to my husband Morgan for 12 years. We're both native Californians, but we have moved a lot beginning in 2013 due to his job as a mathematician in academia. We left Istanbul at the end of March and moved to Kaiserslautern, Germany.

In 2022, I managed to read 62 books. That's just slightly short of my hoped-for goal of 65 but you know, that's how it goes sometimes. Morgan and I also do various album-listening projects together, we are currently working through best of 2022 lists and a "best albums of the 1980s" list. On my own, I'm doing various other lists including the 1001 Albums to listen to before you die and the Rolling Stone 500 best albums. I post an update on my listening weekly, and on my reading whenever I manage to finish something.

Editado: Set 24, 8:41 am

Books Read in 2023

.... January .... Ocak .... Januar ....
Pines by Blake Crouch ☆☆☆☆
The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan ☆☆☆☆
New Animal by Ella Baxter ☆☆☆☆1/2
At the Edge of the Woods by Masatsugu Ono ☆☆1/2
The Golden Ass by Lucius Apuleius, translation by Robert Graves ☆☆☆☆
The White Mosque by Sofia Samatar ☆☆☆1/2

.... February .... Şubat .... Februar ....
Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner ☆☆☆☆
Kaçırılan Çocuk by Robert Louis Stevenson ☆☆☆1/2
The Italian by Shukri Mabkhout ☆☆1/2
Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia ☆☆1/2
Case Study by Graeme Macrae Burnet ☆☆☆
The Simple Art of Murder by Raymond Chandler ☆☆☆1/2
Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke by Eric LaRocca ☆☆☆

.... March .... Mart .... März ....
Our Wives under the Sea by Julia Armfield ☆☆☆☆
Patricia Wants to Cuddle by Samantha Allen ☆☆1/2
Death on Gokumon Island by Seishi Yokomizo ☆☆☆
Wayward by Blake Crouch ☆☆☆1/2
Ducks by Kate Beaton ☆☆☆☆1/2
Ghost Eaters by Clay McLeod Chapman ☆☆☆1/2

.... April .... Nisan .... April ....
Walking Practice by Dolki Min ☆☆☆
An Unlasting Home by Mai Al-Nakib ☆☆☆
Cyclopedia Exotica by Aminder Dhaliwal ☆☆☆ 1/2
Spare by Prince Harry ☆☆☆☆☆

.... May .... Mayıs .... Mai ....
Death Is Hard Work by Khaled Khalifa ☆☆☆☆
The Teller of Secrets by Bisi Adjapon ☆☆☆
Biography of X by Catherine Lacey ☆☆☆☆
Three Assassins by Kotaro Isaka ☆☆☆ 1/2
Trespasses by Louise Kennedy ☆☆☆

.... June .... Haziran .... Juni ....
They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us by Hanif Abdurraqib ☆☆☆
The Book of Goose by Yiyun Li ☆☆☆☆
The Decagon House Murders by Yukito Ayatsuji ☆☆☆
Palo Alto by Malcolm Harris
Murder Book by Hilary Fitzgerald Campbell ☆☆☆
I Sing the Body Electric by Ray Bradbury ☆☆☆
Universal Harvester by John Darnielle ☆☆☆ 1/2
Diary of a Void by Emi Yagi ☆☆☆ 1/2

John Dies at the End by Jason Pargin

Editado: Dez 6, 3:10 am

.... July .... Temmuz .... Juli ....
No Longer Human by Osamu Dazai ☆☆☆☆
Kitty Language by Lili Chin ☆☆☆ 1/2
How To Be a Rule-Breaking Letterer by Huyen Dinh ☆☆ 1/2
Things We Found When the Water Went Down by Tegan Nia Swanson ☆☆☆
Glow by Ned Beauman ☆☆☆
Where Are Your Boys Tonight? by Chris Payne ☆☆☆☆ 1/2
Days at the Morisaki Bookshop by Satoshi Yagisawa ☆☆☆

.... August .... Ağustos .... August ....
The Golden Bowl by Henry James ☆☆☆☆
I Have Some Questions for You by Rebecca Makkai ☆☆☆☆ 1/2
No One Will Come Back for Us by Premee Mohamed ☆☆☆
We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson ☆☆☆☆☆
The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa ☆☆☆☆
Strange Weather in Tokyo by Hiromi Kawakami ☆☆ 1/2
Everyone in My Family Has Killed Someone by Benjamin Stevenson ☆☆☆ 1/2

.... September .... Eylül .... September ....
Devil House by John Darnielle
A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka
Honeybees and Distant Thunder by Riku Onda
Five Little Indians by Michelle Good
A Certain Hunger by Chelsea G. Summers
Breasts and Eggs by Mieko Kawakami

.... October .... Ekim .... Oktober ....
Our Hideous Progeny by C.E. McGill
Girlfriend on Mars by Deborah Willis
The Love of a Good Woman by Alice Munro
Revenge by Yoko Ogawa
The Absolutes by Molly Dektar
We Could Have Been Friends, My Father and I by Raja Shehadeh
1,000 Coils of Fear by Olivia Wenzel
Tokyo Ueno Station by Miri Yu
Nineteen Claws and a Black Bird by Agustina Bazterrica

.... November .... Kasım .... November ....
The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel
The Woman in the Purple Skirt by Natsuko Imamura
Mother of Strangers by Suad Amiry
The Flowers of Buffoonery by Osamu Dazai
Delicate Condition by Danielle Valentine
The Stranger by Albert Camus
A Day in the Life of Abed Salama by Nathan Thrall

.... December .... Aralık .... Dezember ....
My Work by Olga Ravn
Mild Vertigo by Mieko Kanai

Set 24, 8:31 am

A Certain Hunger by Chelsea G. Summers

First line: They all look the same, hotel bars, even when they don't.

Our main character is a food critic. She is also a serial killer who eats part of her victims. She's telling her story from a prison, so we know right off the bat that she eventually gets caught.

The main thing I found interesting about this book is how deeply uncomfortable it can be reading a book like this written from a woman's point of view. There are so many topics, and methods of talking about those topics, that we're used to hearing from male characters but feel distasteful coming from women. Here you have the dispassionate, condescending attitude of a sociopath combined with frank descriptions of everything visceral - food, sex, murder, the workings of our bodies.

It was kind of interesting reading this while we are also working our way through the last season of Hannibal, because it kept making me think about the reception of a man who is convinced he knows everything versus a woman who feels the same way. Anyway, that may or may not be the point of the book, so let's just talk about it as a horror/thriller: it kept me turning the pages. It sometimes strained my disbelief-suspending muscles, but that's how it goes with this type of thing.

Quote: I thought it would be unappealing; rather, the hustle was energizing. I did some fancy strategizing and managed to monetize my blog - and can we for one moment ponder the violent deformity of that phrase, “monetize my blog”; it’s so grotesque that Diane Arbus could photograph it.

Set 24, 11:42 am

>5 ursula: Interesting start to your new thread. I hope autumn in Germany is treating you well.

Set 25, 12:30 pm

>6 rocketjk: Thanks! So far it's the good part of autumn, temperatures are a little lower but it's not dark and raining all the time yet.

Set 26, 3:56 am

Weekly 5x5

Clube da Esquina - Milton Nascimento & Lô Borges [MPB (Música popular brasilera)] (1001 Albums list)
Singles Going Steady - Buzzcocks [punk rock] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Brand New Soul - Angel Du$t [alternative] (new releases) +
American Idiot - Green Day [pop punk] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
John Prine - John Prine [singer/songwriter] (1001 Albums list)

There Will Be Fireworks - There Will Be Fireworks [alternative] (self pick) +
The Meadowlands - Wrens [indie rock] (self pick) +
Mr. Money with the Vibe - Asake [afrobeats] (2022 lists)
#1 Record - Big Star [rock] (1001 Albums list)
In Utero - Nirvana [rock] (TrebleZine 100 all-time favorite albums list)

Laugh Track - The National [rock] (new releases) +
Music for the Masses - Depeche Mode [synth-pop] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
Transformer - Lou Reed [rock] (1001 Albums list)
The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We - Mitski [indie] (new releases)
Rite of Suffering - Moon Phase [rock] (new releases)

Pink Moon - Nick Drake [folk] (1001 Albums list) +
This Nation’s Saving Grace - The Fall [post-punk] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
Illusory Walls - The World Is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die [emo] (2021 review)
Harvest - Neil Young [rock] (1001 Albums list)
Crying, Laughing, Waving, Smiling - Slaughter Beach, Dog [folk] (Morgan’s pick, new releases)

Love Deluxe - Sade [r&b/azz] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
The 7th Hand - Immanuel Wilkins [jazz] (2022 lists)
Antisocialites - Alvvays [dream pop] (self pick)
Pool Kids // POOL - Pool Kids & POOL [emo/punk] (self pick)
Oblivion Will Own Me and Death Alone Will Love Me (Void Filler) - short fictions [emo] (new releases) / partial album

******Notes on this week:
  • Below the chart:
    Home Is Where the Music Is - Hugh Masekela (1001 Albums list)
    Honky Chateau - Elton John (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)

    Skipped for recency:
    The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan - Bob Dylan (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Whitney Houston - Whitney Houston (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)

  • Listened to the John Prine again even though it was previously on another list because I wanted to revisit it. And then there are Big Star, Paul Simon and Neil Young, all of which I know and love; I listened to them just for the pleasure of it.

  • I really liked the Nick Drake, again. (I had never in my life listened to any of his albums before so this is a discovery.) I hadn't listened to American Idiot in years and years - it has its interesting points, and some good songs. But I just don't know that there's any reason for 9 minute long progressive Green Day songs. Transformer was like a study in contrasts, it was almost exactly one incredible song alternating with one ridiculous/terrible song all the way through.

  • There Will Be Fireworks is a little like Frightened Rabbit with less self-loathing, and not just because of the heavy Scottish accent. I liked it. The National dropped a surprise second album for the year. Consensus seems to be that 1. this one is better than the first one and 2. you can combine them and cut out a lot to create a single good album. I dunno that I fully agree with that; I was one of the dozen or so people who liked the first album, and this one also seems pretty good. But I'll need to listen to it a couple of times to solidify my opinions. The new Mitski bored me to tears.

+ = added to my library
♡ = already in my library

Set 26, 6:27 am

Big Star was new to me. Loved it.

Set 26, 6:37 am

>9 dchaikin: I actually just asked Morgan if he would be okay with me getting a tattoo that said "Would you be an outlaw for my love", haha.

I am not (very?) serious, I'm not really into text tattoos and also am ambivalent about lyric tattoos in particular. But I love that line.

Set 26, 6:39 am

Oh and I forgot to mention in my music post that I've hit a few milestones on my lists: I passed the first 250 on both the 1001 list and the RS 500. I'm also down to the last 75 on the 200 albums of the 80s.

Editado: Set 26, 10:30 am

Breasts and Eggs by Mieko Kawakami

First line: If you want to know how poor somebody was growing up, ask them how many windows they had.

Natsuko is a single woman, living in Tokyo and making her way as a novelist. She is originally from Osaka, and much is made about Osaka accents at various points in the story. In the first part, she is visited by her sister Makiko and Makiko's daughter Midoriko. Makiko wants to get breast augmentation surgery, Midoriko is suffering a teenage crisis, and Natsuko is simply adrift and unable to relate to either of them. Natsuko wants to have a child, but she doesn't have any real options since Japan's laws about adoption etc. mean that she can't do it on her own.

In the second part of the book, it's some years later and the interest Natsuko had in the first part - having a child by donor conception - is a full-blown obsession. She's at a standstill in her career, she rarely sees her friends. She spends her time googling information on donor conception and through that, attends an event where she hears the experiences of people who were conceived by sperm donation. Events finally kickstart Natsuko into assessing her life up to that point and what her future will look like.

I found this book very interesting. Sometimes the actions of the characters were hard for me to understand; I chalk at least some of it up to cultural distinctions I don't get. The near-impossibility of a single woman having a baby in any way in Japan and the attitudes toward the expression of a desire to do so were enlightening (even if those attitudes were unenlightened themselves!). And I felt like Natsuko was a character I don't often read about, for reasons I won't get into here, but I'll just say it was an interesting viewpoint.

Quote: Hey, everyone loves surprise parties, right? One day you open the door, and everyone's there waiting for you, ready to surprise you. Here are all these people you've never met, never seen before, congratulating you, big smiles on their faces. Parties are different, though. You can go back through the door behind you, but when you're born, there's no leaving. There's no door. There's no way back to how things were before. I hate to say it, but not everyone likes surprise parties.

ETA: I just looked at the Wikipedia page and I saw this under "Reception":

Writer and then-governor of Tokyo, Shintaro Ishihara, who himself won the Akutagawa Prize in 1955 and was a sitting member of its selection committee, criticized the selection of Kawakami's novel for the prize. In Bungeishunjū he wrote, "The egocentric, self-absorbed rambling of the work is unpleasant and intolerable."

Also separate comments about the English translation being flat and the second half being "rambling and chatty". I don't know, I reacted to both of those things somewhat differently I guess.

Set 26, 12:52 pm

>10 ursula: that would be cool. 🙂

>11 ursula: "The egocentric, self-absorbed rambling of the work is unpleasant and intolerable."

I do love that criticism. Captures a lot of literature the last 1000 or so years.

Set 27, 7:27 am

>13 dchaikin: Fair point in the general sense, although I read it with a lot more misogyny in this specific case.

Set 27, 7:46 am

>14 ursula: oh yeah, i got that aspect too. (And maybe an anti-western-literature-influence intent in there. ??)

Set 27, 12:15 pm

>5 ursula: Great comments on this one, Ursula, even though I don't think it's for me. I got a little queasy just reading your comments.

>12 ursula: And more great comments although this is one on my WL.

My son loved American Idiot. I did like some of the tracks he made me listen to, but it has been years.

Set 27, 12:22 pm

>15 dchaikin: Maybe! I definitely get the impression that this guy probably would think that reading excerpts from a teenager's diary about her mother's interest in breast augmentation and her own changing body is egocentric. Ew, women's stuff.

(Also I believe he said that about the original version of the book, which was novella-length, haha.)

>16 BLBera: The first one does definitely sound like not one for you. And if/when you get to Breasts and Eggs I'll definitely be curious what you think.

I feel like I remember liking American Idiot at the time too, I guess it was just sort of that moment. I'm not sure it totally stands up, but I'm not mad about listening to Billie Joe sing more!

Set 30, 8:23 pm

>8 ursula:

As usual, I have no business commenting on the music really, but I'll echo the love for Lou Reed.

There was a law in Japan (it was supposed to change last year) that divorced women must not remarry until a certain period post-divorce, to prove they are not taking away the ex-husband's child. Maybe there's some justice in that a country still that horrible to women is struggling to keep growing.

Editado: Out 2, 3:53 am

>18 LolaWalser: Business or not, you're always welcome to comment!

It's a weird mix of laws I think, because on the other side of it, a friend of Morgan's family had all kinds of problems when he divorced his Japanese wife. She took the child back to Japan and he had no rights to her whatsoever.

Out 2, 5:41 pm

>19 ursula: That was similar to a German law. My ex-SIL refused to let my niece see her father in Germany because he would have been able to keep her had he chosen to -- the workings of the legal system meant that she would have been 18 by the time the court had decided on the issue.

Out 3, 4:55 am

Weekly 5x5

Antisocialites - Alvvays [dream pop] (self pick)
Travellers in Space and Time - The Apples in Stereo [indie rock] (self pick)
Mama Said Knock You Out - LL Cool J [hip hop] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Red Headed Stranger - Willie Nelson [country] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Untrue - Burial [ambient/electronic] (TrebleZine 100 all-time favorite albums list) +

The Long Way, The Slow Way - Camp Trash [emo] (self pick)
Straight Out of the Jungle - Jungle Brothers [hip hop] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
…Is an Evolving Mess - Cubfires [emo] (self pick)
De todas las flores - Natalia Lafourcade [pop] (2022 lists)
PAINLESS - Nilüfer Yanya [indie] (2022 lists)

Never Before Seen, Never Again Found - Arm’s Length [emo] (self pick, vinyl)
Drone Mass - Jóhann Jóhannsson [classical] (2022 lists) +
Cobalt Desert Oasis - Marco Shuttle [electronic] (2021 review)
Will the Circle Be Unbroken - Nitty Gritty Dirt Band [country folk] (1001 Albums list)
Paul Simon - Paul Simon [folk rock] (1001 Albums list)

EVERGREEN - PVRIS [electropop] (new releases)
New Standards, Vol. 1 - Terri Lyne Carrington [jazz] (2022 lists)
Uprising - Bob Marley & the Wailers [reggae] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
Only Constant - Gel [punk] (new releases) +
How Do I Keep My Head Above Water? - Indigo Moiré [emo] (self pick) +

A Way Forward - Nation of Language [indie pop] (2021 review)
Roxy Music - Roxy Music [art rock] (1001 Albums list)
Slayed? - Slade [glam rock] (1001 Albums list)
Can’t Buy a Thrill - Steely Dan [soft rock] (1001 Albums list)
Talking Book - Stevie Wonder [soul] (1001 Albums list)

******Notes on this week:
  • Below the chart:
    Loaded - The Velvet Underground (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Blue Lines - Massive Attack (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Trans-Europe Express - Kraftwerk (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Juju - Siouxsie & the Banshees (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
    Axis - Helm (2021 review)
    Air - Sault (2022 lists)
    Boys of Faith - Zach Bryan (new releases) +

    Skipped for recency:
    Sail Away - Randy Newman (1001 Albums list)
    Heaven Or Las Vegas - Cocteau Twins (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Odessey and Oracle - The Zombies (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Live at the Harlem Square - Sam Cooke (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Criminal Minded - Boogie Down Productions (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Like a Prayer - Madonna (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
    Pretty Hate Machine - Nine Inch Nails (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)

    Skipped for refusing to give even $.03 a play to:
    808s & Heartbreak - Kanye West (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)

  • The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band was the worst thing I put in my ear holes this week. Also, although I have liked past releases by Sault, this one did not connect with me.

  • I listened to a couple of albums by Indonesian emo bands this week; apparently there is a big emo scene there. Anyway, Cubfires was okay but not great, while I really liked Indigo Moiré. The new Gel was pretty fun (all 17 minutes of it). I had previously listened to and liked the Nilüfer Yanya and it was just as good on a relisten. Paul Simon is well, Paul Simon. And I've finally learned to like "Duncan", a song I've never really liked in all the years I've listened to it. Zach Bryan surprise-released an EP almost immediately after his album, and there's a song on there that's been stuck in my head ever since ("Deep Satin").

  • If you see Apples in Stereo on my chart, there's probably been a stressful day or two in the week! It's my all-time favorite comfort album. In this case, it's coupled with Camp Trash, so you can tell it was a very stressful day!

    And my Arm's Length record finally arrived! I had to wait for the release of the Boris record Morgan had ordered along with it. Anyway, I was super excited to put it on the turntable.

+ = added to my library
♡ = already in my library

Out 3, 4:58 am

>20 RidgewayGirl: From the quick glance I did, there is no such thing as joint custody in Japanese law, and the mother is just about always awarded custody, so he really didn't have anything to say about it.

I'm not surprised that it would have taken an eternity for something to work its way through the legal system here, everything takes forever.

Out 3, 8:43 am

>21 ursula: Not much there for me this week. I do agree with you about that Nitty Gritty Dirt Band album. I'd had it sitting in my record collection for years, finally took it out and listened to it one night while we were still in California, and immediately transferred the record to the Goodwill bag. And, yes, that first Paul Simon album was definitely a revelation when it came out. "Peace Like a River" has always been a favorite of mine, plus "Run That Body Down" and "Congratulations" ("Love is not a game, love is not a toy, love's no romance.")

I don't remember where you stand on Steely Dan. Can't Buy a Thrill is a favorite for me. On the other hand, I've never really understood the adulation for Willie Nelson, though he has certainly written some good songs.

Talking Book to me is a masterpiece. That era of Stevie Wonder's music never gets old for me.


Out 3, 10:04 am

>23 rocketjk: High five on the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band! Gone to the great Goodwill in the sky.

Steely Dan: I haaaaaated Gaucho (I listened to it for the 80s list and it was the worst thing I put in my ear holes that week) but this one was okay. It also obviously had the songs I'm most familiar with.

When I was a kid, my aunt was big on country, and huge on Willie Nelson. I didn't like it then, and I wouldn't say I'm a fan now, but it was fine.

Totally agree, really enjoyed the Stevie Wonder.

Editado: Out 5, 7:32 am

Our Hideous Progeny by C.E. McGill

First line: 'Could you,' said the inspector, 'run it all by me one more time, Mrs Sutherland?'

This is a furthering of the Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. We find out in the first few pages that the narrator's great-uncle was named Victor Frankenstein, and when she finds some of his notes, she and her husband start working on some research of their own. They are both scientists, although only her husband has any standing in the scientific community, of course.

The main character (named Mary, again of course) and her rather hapless husband Henry move in with his sister in her dark and gloomy house in Aberdeen to work on their secret experiments. Of course a lot of intrigue ensues. This was a good continuation of the Frankenstein story, a page-turner for me.

Out 5, 5:39 am

>25 ursula: Sounds like fun!

Out 5, 8:41 am

You've done some good (to me, anyway) listening in the last couple of weeks! Transformer is another one of those DNA albums—I'd put it on late at night and it would still be playing the next morning. It so much evokes being in my first apartment in 1981 downtown NYC at age 18.

Funny about that Big Star tattoo—I once seriously considered getting one of just that star from the album cover. Didn't do it.

I'm a Steely Dan fan but never warmed up to Gaucho either. Love Can't Buy a Thrill, but I had forgotten how absolutely awful that album cover is.

Out 5, 9:08 am

>27 lisapeet: "I'm a Steely Dan fan but never warmed up to Gaucho either."

Gaucho was Becker and Fagen's first shot at scratching their jazz itch. They went the opposite way of most of us in that generation, I think, in that they started out as jazz fans who only turned to rock when they became professional musicians. I think that's the story. Anyway, at the time that album came out I was in college and just beginning my own explorations into the jazz realm (and only because I wanted to do a show on the campus radio station and the shift that came open was a jazz shift). All that to say that I never cared much for Gaucho either. It seems neither fish nor fowl to me. "Time Out of Mind" is the only song on that album that I really like.

Out 5, 11:48 am

>26 FlorenceArt: It was a pretty fun read!

>27 lisapeet: I just read your comments about Hunky Dory vs. Ziggy on my last thread, and I get what you mean about DNA albums. I think being tied to that experience/time would definitely cement Transformer in your being! And I love that you considered getting the star tattooed, even if you didn't end up doing it.

Thanks to you and >28 rocketjk: for the comments and context about Steely Dan!

Editado: Out 5, 11:54 am

>8 ursula: This is a much better week than the following one. One of the three Nick Drake classic albums. I am one of the few people who saw him live, playing at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on the Southbank London, probably in 1971. Sandy Denny was top of the bill and both artists were soon no longer with us.

No mention of one of the Falls most approachable albums? - This Nations Saving Grace.

As for Steely Dan - I admit to being a bit sniffy about them back in the 70's, thinking that the music was over composed and so typical radio fodder. I have re-llstened to all their albums recently and now think they were an exceptional band. Goucho is a fine album.

And Lou Reed too - what a week

Out 5, 12:29 pm

>30 baswood: Well if it makes a difference I think I probably enjoyed both weeks equally. ;)

Very cool that you saw Nick Drake (and Sandy Denny). I'm sure that is a pretty exclusive club.

I didn't like The Fall, I regret to say.

Editado: Out 9, 11:24 am

Weekly 5x5

Exile on Main St. - The Rolling Stones [rock] (1001 Albums list)
Ever Loving - Dogbreth [power pop] (self pick) +
Discovery - Daft Punk [electronic] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list) +
Crispy Crunchy Nothing - Packs [indie rock] (new releases)
ANTI - Rihanna [pop] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)

The Slider - T. Rex [glam rock] (1001 Albums list)
Growing in Strange Places - Thank You, I’m Sorry [indie] (new releases)
Never Before Seen, Never Again Found [emo] (self pick, vinyl)
Metallica - Metallica [metal] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Heavy Rocks (2002) - Boris [metal] (Morgan’s pick, vinyl)

Bad - Michael Jackson [pop] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
Marchita - Silvana Estrada [singer-songwriter] (2022 lists)
Deceit - This Heat [experimental rock] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list) +
moving forward - absinthe father [indie] (self pick) +
Eagles - Eagles [rock] (1001 Albums list)

Oblivion Will Own Me and Death Alone Will Love Me (Void Filler) - short fictions [indie rock] (new releases) +
Boys of Faith - Zach Bryan [country] (new releases) +
Drink the River - Gabe Lee [country] (new releases) +
Damn the Torpedoes - Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers [rock] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Nozhet El Nofous - Nancy Mounir [experimental/Egyptian] (2022 lists)

Mole - Poolblood [alternative] (new releases)
All Directions - The Temptations [r&b] (1001 Albums list)
Master of Reality - Black Sabbath [metal] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list) +
Giant Steps - John Coltrane [jazz] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list) +
Untrue - Burial [electronic] (TrebleZine 100 all-time favorite albums list)

******Notes on this week:
  • Below the chart:
    The World Is a Ghetto - War (1001 Albums list)
    Close to the Edge - Yes (1001 Albums list)

    Skipped for recency:
    Something/Anything? - Todd Rundgren (1001 Albums list)
    Little Earthquakes - Tori Amos (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Ace of Spades - Motörhead (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)

  • The T. Rex was fun; the War was good. My favorite Daft Punk album has always been Homework, but of course Discovery is probably the more accessible album. I liked the John Coltrane, like with all jazz I feel like I’ll have to listen to it more to have any sort of handle on it. I love Tom Petty, I love Damn the Torpedoes. This Heat was really weird, but in a really interesting and fun way.

  • Exile on Main St. is not my favorite Stones album, though I’m not sure what would be anyway. Ditto for ANTI and Rihanna. Another really great album from Black Sabbath this week. Morgan’s long-awaited Boris record arrived and we listened to that.

  • I listened to Zach Bryan's EP Boys of Faith, which he released right after his self-titled album and one of the songs just got me in a stranglehold and has just now maybe started to let up. Maybe. Morgan listened to the EP and tried to guess which song it was - he was torn between two but guessed correctly (it was "Deep Satin", you can listen to the audio here on YouTube if you're curious.

+ = added to my library
♡ = already in my library

Out 9, 11:17 am

You mentioned all the good stuff this week in your comments.

Out 9, 12:16 pm

>33 baswood: That's gotta be a first!

But I'm always happy to hear any particular stories/connections or just generalized chiming in. :)

Out 9, 12:18 pm

The Love of a Good Woman by Alice Munro

These are mostly longer-form short stories and I really enjoyed them. I don't always (often? ever?) fully enjoy a short story collection, but this one really worked for me. Such a variety of female characters in a variety of relationship situations. I have previously read another Munro, Hateship, Friendship, Loveship, Courtship, which I didn't get along with as well. One of my favorite stories in this collection was the last one, My Mother's Dream. In it, there is this description of the husband and father:

The sort who never let people alone, who whipped them up to laugh. At his own expense occasionally, but usually at other people's. Jill recalls when she looks at him how he drank but never seemed drunk and how he occupied himself getting other drunk people to confess to him their fears, prevarications, virginity, or two-timing, which he would then turn into jokes or humiliating nicknames that his victims pretended to enjoy. For he had legions of followers and friends, who maybe latched on to him out of fear - or maybe just because, as was always said of him, he livened things up. Wherever he was was the center of the room, and the air around him crackled with risk and merriment.

Out 9, 1:02 pm

Nice to read about an Alice Munro collection. Love the quote.

Out 9, 1:44 pm

A few for me, working from the top of your list downward:

Exile on Main Street always has been one of my favorite Stones albums. I like the spared down quality of it and the strong blues flavor. Plus, Mick Taylor is still there playing lead guitar.

My friends and I didn't realize it at the time, but Eagles in retrospect was a sign of the demise of Country Rock, the sub-genre that my friends and I in high school grew up into. The band's soft glossy sound should have come as a warning to us, but we missed it, then. Frey and Henley wanted to be rock/pop stars, not country rockers. Bernie Leadon, ex-Flying Burritos Brothers member, was the purist. Eventually they replaced him with Joe Walsh and released Hotel California, and that was that.

Damn the Torpedoes: I've never really delved into any of Petty's LPs too deeply. The hits are very good, but I've always thought of that band as just a good, solid rock band. Nothing particularly groundbreaking or, really, exciting. I understand why other people love Petty and the Pretenders, and I generally turn the hits up when they come on the radio. For me it's a case of "good/not great" though I do respect the long, consistent run they had.

Giant Steps: Not only great music but an important milestone along the road of modern jazz.

Out 10, 4:05 am

>36 dchaikin: I liked all of them, which is miraculous for me!

>37 rocketjk: Hmm, I don't think I have a favorite Stones album.

I don't have any opinions at all on the Eagles, I think. I grew up hearing them of course, so the big hits are familiar. Aside from that, listening to this album I was surprised to discover that Frey's voice was not very good, really. On the My Chemical Romance tour last year they sometimes did a semi-improvised song, the lyrics of which would change but included "everybody hates the fucking Eagles". 🤣

I don't think that everything needs to be totally groundbreaking. Tom Petty was a great songwriter of songs that felt right, and the Heartbreakers were some great musicians.

Re: Giant Steps, how/why is it a milestone? I don't know anything about jazz.

Editado: Out 10, 9:59 pm

>38 ursula: To answer your question about Giant Steps as best I can, there some technical stuff about the compositions that makes other jazz musicians consider the album groundbreaking and iconic that had to do with the complexity and nature of the chord changes. This is stuff that's over my head for the most part. But more generally, I think it's widely agreed that the intensity and quality of the soloing on that album, and particularly of course Coltrane's soloing, plus the degree to which the compositions were built around that soloing, set a new standard for the music that other musicians then had to work to catch up with. I can give you some links to more authoritative descriptions of all that if you like.

But all that is only meant to answer the question you asked. I don't want to give you the impression that you need to know and/or understand any of that stuff to enjoy the music. I really understand very little of the technical part of it. For me, it's just exciting, wonderful music. The knowledge that musicians and historians consider Giant Steps to be a groundbreaking piece of work just adds a little extra spice. The album, for me, stands on its own right out of the box, as it were, as fun, exciting and rewarding music. That sort of jazz maybe is an acquired taste, but for me the rewards have been great. You don't really have to "study" it, you only have to expose yourself to it, if that sort of thing seems worthwhile to you. Sorry if I've gone overboard in my reply. My bumper sticker should be, "Honk and I'll be enthusiastic about jazz!"

Out 11, 3:45 am

>39 rocketjk: No, this is actually exactly the kind of thing I am looking for! I don't naturally connect with jazz, and when I like something it's not likely to go beyond exactly that: "I like this". So it's good to know 1. that it doesn't necessarily have to be any deeper than that, but at the same time that 2. this is considered an important record for technical/musical reasons as well.

Out 11, 1:23 pm

Girlfriend on Mars by Deborah Willis

First line: Amber Kivinen - drug dealer, lapsed evangelical Christian, my girlfriend of fourteen years - is going to Mars.

Basically that, yeah. Kevin is narrating that part of the story, and Amber has joined a reality tv show competition to be one of the first pair of people sent to Mars. She will not be coming back if she wins. It's a shock to Kevin's system to realize that 1. she would just join this competition without telling him, 2. she could actually win, and 3. she might even want to win.

Amber and Kevin grow weed in their house in Vancouver; she's got the plant know-how and he's ... got the time to sit around and sell to people? I'm not sure what he brings to the endeavor, or to the relationship, often. They met and started dating in high school, and they have stayed together in spite of having very different personalities. Amber was an aspiring Olympic gymnast who hurt her shoulder, ending her chances. Since then she seems to have been adrift. Kevin, on the other hand, seems to prefer being adrift. He lost his mother and seems to be cultivating, besides cannabis plants, some serious agoraphobia.

Sometimes I read a book and wonder if I read the same book the author wrote, if you know what I mean. Am I missing the point? Am I finding points that the author didn't intend at all? Recently when I talked about Devil House I said that the book was not the book I thought it was as I was reading it. In that case, I know that's what John Darnielle intended. Here, I'm not sure what book Deborah Willis was writing. If it was supposed to be a comedic sendup of reality tv, that didn't work for me at all. If it was supposed to be a scathing indictment of billionaires and how little their principles and ideals actually mean to them, I guess it hit the mark but it's an easy one. What I got out of it was a lot deeper than it feels like the book intended to go, though - thoughts about what it means when your purpose in life has been imposed upon you by others, maybe so deeply that you're not sure it's not your own will anymore. Thoughts about wanting to back out of something, and how to know when the voice in your gut is trying to keep you out of trouble versus just speaking out of fear. Thoughts about living, and dying, and what they both mean in how you carry on through your days.

Honestly, I had a really great conversation with Morgan about all of these things after I finished the book - I'm just not sure any of that was what it was supposed to inspire. It might have just been intended to tell you reality tv is fake, Elon, Bezos and all the other billionaires suck, and you can't just spend forever stoned on your couch.

Out 11, 2:00 pm

Based on the thoughts the book inspired within you, it sounds terrific. (Although the plot summary is not a draw for me.)

Out 12, 3:04 am

>42 dchaikin: Yeah, exactly. I think I got more out of it than she put into it. (But maybe I'm selling her short - I tried looking up some reviews and the ones I saw seem to think it's a comic take on reality tv? But it's ... not very comic.)

Out 13, 8:07 am

I'm just going to leave a link to this piece my daughter sent me about Palestine/Israel: https://www.nplusonemag.com/online-only/online-only/have-we-learned-nothing/

It's there for whoever may need to read it.

Out 13, 10:59 am

The variety of responses i have come are both fascinating and discouraging. Naturally i have my own and feel strongly about that. But I’m bothered by the simplicity in many responses. I appreciate the theme in the link, and the effort of thinking it through. I don’t exactly agree, but acknowledgement of the complexities goes a long way.

Out 13, 2:17 pm

>45 dchaikin: Yes, the essay has some strong points. As you say, Dan, acknowledgment of the complexities is important. There are two or three historical simplifications in the piece and a bit of disingenuousness, but that's OK. I never expect perfection in opinion pieces. (I don't feel like going down the rabbit hole of offering specifics of what I'm getting at right now. Things are more than a little bit raw here in NYC, especially around the nearby Columbia University campus.) The fact that above the essay on the web page we see, not a photo of anything that happened in Israel, but instead an image of a building being shelled and exploding in Gaza, gives a hint at the editorial position of the magazine's editors. I do agree with a lot in that essay, but it's important to understand the context of where the writer is coming from.

Out 16, 4:31 am

Weekly 5x5

De La Soul Is Dead - de La Soul [hip hop] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road - Elton John [rock] (1001 Albums list)
Critical Beatdown - Ultramagnetic MC’s [hip hop] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
Transatlanticism - Death Cab for Cutie [indie] (discography)
Ray of Light - Madonna [pop] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)

Fly - The Chicks [country] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
A Light for Attracting Attention - The Smile [indie] (2022 lists)
Plans - Death Cab for Cutie [indie] (discography)
The Definitive Collection - Patsy Cline [country] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
You’re the One - Rhiannon Giddens [americana] (new releases) +

Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers - The National [indie] (Morgan’s pick/90s list)
Aladdin Sane - David Bowie [rock] (1001 Albums list)
Narrow Stairs - Death Cab for Cutie [indie] (discography)
Something about Airplanes - Death Cab for Cutie [indie] (discography)
i don’t know who needs to hear this … - Tomberlin [indie folk] (2022 lists)

Yankee Hotel Foxtrot - Wilco [alternative] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list) +
Warm Chris - Aldous Harding [indie folk] (2022 lists)
Billion Dollar Babies - Alice Cooper [hard rock] (1001 Albums list)
The Photo Album - Death Cab for Cutie [indie] (discography)
We Have the Facts and We’re Voting Yes - Death Cab for Cutie [indie] (discography)

Auto Locator - Del Paxton [emo] (new releases) +
Ugly Season - Perfume Genius [art pop] (2022 lists)
Javelin - Sufjan Stevens [singer-songwriter] (new releases) +
Catch a Fire - Bob Marley & the Wailers [reggae] (1001 Albums list)
God’s Country - Chat Pile [rock/sludge metal] (2022 lists)

******Notes on this week:
  • Below the chart:
    Future Days - Can (1001 Albums list)
    Made in Japan - Deep Purple (1001 Albums list)
    Faust IV - Faust (1001 Albums list)
    Ride the Lightning - Metallica (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
    The Redshift Blues - Dispirited Spirits (new releases) +

    Skipped for recency:
    Here’s Little Richard - Little Richard (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs - Derek and the Dominos (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Imagine - John Lennon (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Zen Arcade - Hüsker Dü (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)

  • First off, I’m doing a Death Cab for Cutie discography run because with the 20th anniversary of Transatlanticism, I keep seeing rankings of their albums popping up and I didn’t feel like I could even decide how I felt about them without a re-listen (and a new listen to at least one of the ones still left to go). Aside from that, I finally got around to the Rhiannon Giddens, which was fun, and the new Sufjan Stevens, which was not. It was good, but not fun - it’s steeped in loss. He came out on release day, saying that the album was dedicated to his partner, who had died in April. Heavy enough on its own, but recently he also said he has been battling Guillain-Barre and has had to relearn to walk.

  • Normally I would expect that the worst thing I put in my ear holes this week would be The Smile, seeing as how it’s a Thom Yorke (Radiohead) project. But honestly the Perfume Genius album was probably the worst thing this week.

  • Not a ton to say about everything else - the live Deep Purple album was all right, as that sort of thing goes for me, Ride the Lightning is my favorite Metallica album so that was good, and for the rest, there were some good songs here and there but no back-to-front great albums for me.

+ = added to my library
♡ = already in my library

Out 16, 8:53 am

Deep Purple did not make the RS 500. 🙂 (No burning Swiss arenas…).

Out 16, 9:41 am

>48 dchaikin: This is the 3rd one on the 1001 list. They have more room, obviously, but I don't know that they needed all 3. Also I feel like RS has saved so much space by choosing a bunch of greatest hits/complete collections of artists that they probably could have thrown one spot to Deep Purple if they were so inclined. Guess they weren't!

Out 16, 9:47 am

>49 ursula: my biggest issue is no Toad the Wet Sprocket. (Album: Fear) 🙂 The biggest surprise to me is not including the first Boston album (presumably because it’s out of fashion). I also noticed no Moody Blues (apparently RS hates them) or Graham Parsons Project (much less criminal). I haven’t looked at the 1001 list.

Out 16, 10:29 am

>50 dchaikin: And I haven't looked at the entirety of either list. I go through weekly and add in somewhere between a week and 2 weeks' worth of songs to my playlist from where I am. I don't look ahead beyond that.

I like Toad, but I'm not sure I would expect them in the top 500 albums ... on the other hand it's not like I haven't already run across some things I would not have put anywhere near the top 500!

Out 16, 9:59 pm

Rhiannon Giddens and Patsy Cline in the same week. I recently discovered Allison Russell, which would fit in there somewhere.

Out 17, 3:19 am

>52 RidgewayGirl: Yes, although I admit I did not listen to the entire "definitive collection". I am annoyed at Rolling Stone's inclusion of those sorts of albums and I just don't need to listen to every single thing ever recorded.

I haven't heard anything by Allison Russell, I'll check her out!

Editado: Out 17, 6:28 am

>52 RidgewayGirl: & >53 ursula: I, too, am a big Allison Russell fan (as well as Rhiannon Giddens). Check out the album "Songs of Our Native Daughters" sometime. It features Giddens, Russell, Layla McCalla (another favorite, and she went to the same high school I did! "A Day for the Hunter, A Day for the Prey" is my favorite of her albums so far.) and Amythyst Kiah. Russell's first solo album, "Outside Girl," is stunning--lush and beautiful--though the subject matter is rough stuff. I see she has a new album out this year, "The Returner," that I haven't listened to yet.

Out 17, 7:16 am

Oh I was wrong, I have listened to some Allison Russell - Outside Girl. It wasn't for me.

Out 20, 2:00 pm

Revenge by Yoko Ogawa

My second book by Yoko Ogawa this year (I read the novel The Memory Police earlier). This is a book of interconnected short stories, ranging from melancholy to eerie to downright disturbing. I loved all of them, and promptly told Morgan to read them too!

Out 20, 2:09 pm

>56 ursula: This is going straight to my wishlist as I've been really interested by the books by Ogawa I've read and the idea of interconnected short stories appeals to me.
Though we have different tastes since I liked The Memory Police more than you if I remember your review correctly so I may end up not liking this one. ;)

Out 20, 2:32 pm

>57 chlorine: Funny how that works! I'll be interested to see. :) I often don't really enjoy short stories (although I'm having a run of reading them at the moment), so it was a surprise to me that I didn't feel like there was a dud in the bunch.

Out 22, 3:01 am

The Absolutes by Molly Dektar

First line: We left for the bobsled race in the afternoon.

Our narrator's name is Nora, and the bobsled race in the first sentence is at the Turin Olympics. Nora is there as an exchange student from the US, and she's attending with her host sister Federica. Most of the novel takes place in the present day, as an early-30s Nora is now living in New York and doing a job I didn't understand at all (I didn't try very hard, this may be on me). Anyhow, she has a boyfriend and a job and a lot of unresolved issues. Her thoughts often go back to her time in Italy and the relationship she had with Federica, as well as a brief encounter with a young man named Nicola.

Nora is kind of a mess, honestly. She had issues with self-harm when she was a teenager, which she has since overcome, but it is clear she hasn't really dealt with the underlying causes and she also has no clue who or what she is. Nicola re-enters her life and she gains some clarity - or does she?

I was very confused by this book. I don't know how Molly Dektar wanted me to feel about Nora and Nicola, but in a lot of ways it felt like a very misguided fan-fiction written by a teenager. Like, the things that seem exhilarating and exciting when you're 16 are not (hopefully) the same things you want in your life in your thirties. But then, maybe that was the point? Maybe Nora is a cautionary tale? I don't know; I've definitely been thinking about it, which I guess is one measure of success. But none of the conclusions I reach make me like the book, so unsuccessful on that front.

Also note: Dektar has an MFA and it shows all over this book. If that's not a vibe you enjoy, avoid at all costs!

Quote: Maybe I could scrub off my layers of anxiety and habit, and all the adjustments I made to feel consistent, all the choices constrained by previous choices, the part of me that ran straight for solitude, that didn't really believe that the most important things could be shared. A hope for discontinuity was what I felt.

Out 23, 3:48 am

We Could Have Been Friends, My Father and I by Raja Shehadeh

A Palestinian lawyer whose father was also a lawyer looks back on their lives together and realizes that they never really talked about the ways they each fought for Palestinian freedom.

Out 23, 7:49 am

>60 ursula: That's one for my wishlist.

Editado: Out 24, 4:16 am

Weekly 5x5

Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You - Big Thief [indie] (2022 lists)
Only Built 4 Cuban Linx - Raekwon [hip hop] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Space Ritual - Hawkwind [space rock] (1001 Albums list)
Tha Carter III - Lil Wayne [hip hop] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
CrazySexyCool - TLC [r&b/hip hop] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)

Recovering the Satellites - Counting Crows [rock] (self pick; 27th anniversary)
Preacher’s Daughter - Ethel Cain [americana/pop rock] (2022 lists) +
Calling the Dogs - Citizen [emo] (new releases)
Life Is Not a Lesson - Glitterer [alternative] (Morgan’s pick; new releases)
Sumday: Excess Baggage - Grandaddy [indie] (Morgan’s pick; new releases)

It’s Almost Dry - Pusha T [hip hop] (2022 lists)
Blade Runner - Vangelis [soundtrack] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
ILYSM - Wild Pink [indie] (2022 lists)
Sit Down for Dinner - Blonde Redhead [alternative] (new releases)
Asphalt Meadows - Death Cab for Cutie [indie] (discography)

Codes and Keys - Death Cab for Cutie [indie] (discography)
Kintsugi - Death Cab for Cutie [indie] (discography)
Thank You for Today - Death Cab for Cutie [indie] (discography)
Definitely Maybe - Oasis [rock] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Skylight - Pinegrove [indie] (self pick)

Raising Hell - Run-DMC [hip hop] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Janky Star - Grace Ives [pop] (2022 lists)
Solid Air - John Martyn [folk/psychedelia] (1001 Albums list)
Floating into the Night - Julee Cruise [dream pop] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
Berlin - Lou Reed [rock] (1001 Albums list)

******Notes on this week:
  • Below the chart:
    Selling England by the Pound - Genesis (1001 Albums list)
    Grievous Angel - Gram Parsons (1001 Albums list) +
    Paris 1919 - John Cale (1001 Albums list)
    Larks’ Tongues in Aspic - King Crimson (1001 Albums list)
    Violent Femmes - Violent Femmes (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
    Nightclubbing - Grace Jones (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
    From Her to Eternity - Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
    The Ascension - Glenn Branca (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
    Born to Run - Bruce Springsteen (TrebleZine 100 all-time favorite albums list)
    Boys of Faith - Zach Bryan (self pick)
    Emergency, Exit - Aren’t We Amphibians (new releases)

    Skipped for recency:
    Raw Power - Iggy & the Stooges (1001 Albums list)
    Pronounced Leh-Nerd Skin-Nerd - Lynyrd Skynyrd (1001 Albums list)
    Rage Against the Machine - Rage Against the Machine (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Deja Vu - Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Either/Or - Elliott Smith (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    American Beauty - Grateful Dead (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Wildflowers - Tom Petty (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    The Idler Wheel … - Fiona Apple (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Wild Is the Wind - Nina Simone (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Unknown Pleasures - Joy Division (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    The Birth of Soul - Ray Charles (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Eagles - Eagles (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Sticky Fingers - The Rolling Stones (TrebleZine 100 all-time favorite albums list)

  • Whew! Lots of stuff this week. Also the “skipped” section is pretty long, I hit a stretch where I’d listened to a lot of what’s on the RS500 in other places. Anyway, something that was totally new to me and was a standout this week: Gram Parsons. I listened to this one with Morgan and we both really liked it. Also interesting was Ethel Cain. I know she got a ton of attention last year with this album but I hadn’t gotten around to it, it somehow didn’t seem like my thing. But Morgan pointed out that this was a lot like a John Darnielle book - it leaves you never quite sure what album you’re listening to, it’s always heading somewhere different than you expect. I love me some Peter Gabriel-era Genesis, so I didn’t need to listen to Selling England by the Pound, but Morgan hadn’t heard it so we listened together.

    Finished my Death Cab for Cutie discography listen - my ranking of their 10 albums:
    1. Plans (2005)
    2. Transatlanticism (2003)
    3. The Photo Album (2001)
    4. Narrow Stairs (2008)
    5. We Have the Facts And We’re Voting Yes (2000)
    6. Something About Airplanes (1999)
    7. Codes and Keys (2011)
    8. Thank You for Today (2018)
    9. Asphalt Meadows (2022)
    10. Kintsugi (2015)

  • The worst thing I put in my earholes this week was probably Pusha T. Morgan and I had a difference of opinion on Glenn Branca: I thought it was weird, while he thinks it's weird and kind of loves it. Still have one Bruce Springsteen song I like, Born to Run, and not adding any to that list. Violent Femmes was fun at the time but in retrospect a lot of it is pretty ick.

  • Closing in on some milestones on the lists, but I'll keep that for next time!

+ = added to my library
♡ = already in my library

Out 24, 6:37 am

>60 ursula: This seems quite interesting, did you like it?

Editado: Out 25, 5:17 am

>61 labfs39: Nice!

>63 chlorine: It was very interesting. I've read several books from Palestine in the last year - I don't know that I ever really enjoy reading these non-fiction stories of life under occupation and oppression, but I always learn something.

ETA: same for the fictional ones, really.

Out 26, 3:31 pm

>64 ursula: Thanks for your thoughts about We could have been friends, my father and I!

Out 27, 11:01 am

>65 chlorine: You're welcome. I was in Turkish classes with some Palestinians while I was living in Istanbul and talking to them changed everything about my world view, including how little their voices have been listened to historically (and currently).

Out 27, 11:52 am

>66 ursula: I think I'm starting to realise how little their voices are listened to.

Out 30, 4:52 am

Weekly 5x5

Manassas - Stephen Stills [rock] (1001 Albums list)
RENAISSANCE - Beyonce [pop/r&b] (2022 lists)
Midnight Marauders - A Tribe Called Quest [hip hop] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
12 - Ryuichi Sakamoto [electronic] (new releases)
CRASH - Charlie XCX [pop] (2022 lists)

Household Name - Momma [indie] (2022 lists)
Tea for the Tillerman - Cat Stevens [folk] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Low - David Bowie [rock] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Homogenic - Björk [electronica] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Strictly Business - EPMD [hip hop] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)

Census Designated - Jane Remover [emo] (new releases)
Mott - Mott the Hoople [rock] (1001 Albums list)
The Dark Side of the Moon - Pink Floyd [rock] (1001 Albums list)
Band on the Run - Paul McCartney & Wings [rock] (1001 Albums list)
Diamond Life - Sade [pop] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)

Stop Making Sense - Talking Heads [new wave] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list) + (new version)
Countdown to Ecstasy - Steely Dan [rock] (1001 Albums list)
Zach Bryan - Zach Bryan [country] (partial album)
I Love You Jennifer B - Jockstrap [art pop] (2022 lists, partial album)
Waiting Around - Lilts [indie] (new releases) +

New Preoccupations - Caracara [emo] (partial album)
The Town that Cursed Your Name - The Reds, Pinks and Purples [indie] (partial album)
Hootenanny - The Replacements [punk] (partial album)
Tubular Bells - Mike Oldfield [progressive rock] (1001 Albums list)
The Window - Ratboys [indie rock] (partial album)

******Notes on this week:
  • Skipped for recency:
    New York Dolls - New York Dolls (1001 Albums list)
    For Your Pleasure - Roxy Music (1001 Albums list)
    Pink Moon - Nick Drake (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Post - Bjork (TrebleZine 100 all-time favorite albums list)

    Skipped to not give him $.03
    Graduation - Kanye West (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)

  • This was a short week, the total opposite of last time! Morgan took vacation days so we didn’t spend a lot of time at home/listening to music. We actually watched a couple of movies, which we haven’t done in years, haha.

  • Nice to have a reason to listen to Cat Stevens! In new releases, the Lilts record is by a duo, one half of which is John Ross from Wild Pink, who made one of my favorite albums of 2022. This EP is also good but didn’t grab me by the throat on a first listen like Wild Pink did.

  • Stephen Stills was okay. Dark Side is probably my second-favorite Pink Floyd album on a very short list of 2 albums, and is 2nd by a distance. Paul McCartney, whatever. The worst thing I put in my ears this week: A Tribe Called Quest, I guess. Bjork is also in contention of course.

+ = added to my library
♡ = already in my library

Out 30, 4:56 am

>67 chlorine: I'm not much for poetry, but last year I "enjoyed" Rifqa by Mohammed El-Kurd.

Out 30, 5:19 am

1,000 Coils of Fear by Olivia Wenzel

First line: My heart is a snack machine made of tin.

The "narrator" (in quotes for a reason I'll explain momentarily) is a woman in her mid-30s, from eastern Germany. She's biracial; her father is Angolan, and left Germany when she was a baby. Her German grandmother raised her and her twin brother after her mother leaves as well (to parts mostly unknown).

When they were 19, her brother committed suicide. She spends a lot of time talking around this rather than approaching it. In fact, she talks around most things - racism, feeling "other" in the country she is from, and yet not feeling part of cultures other people might associate her with from looking at her.

Now, "narrator" was in quotes because the form the book takes is mostly as sort of an interrogation. She is questioned, and she responds (or doesn't), sometimes telling seemingly unrelated stories instead. Which side of her is questioning and which is answering shifts as well - sometimes you get "WHERE ARE YOU NOW?" and occasionally "WHERE AM I NOW?" and the responses come from the seeming future. Can it be confusing? Probably. It's an odd style to get used to, but it's also kind of how internal dialogues work, if not quite so literally. It didn't entirely work for me, but overall I got into a rhythm with the storytelling style and found it a worthwhile read.

Quote: If I told her about the school in Kreuzberg that refugees occupied a few years ago, if I told her about the desperate man who stood on the roof of the school and threatened to jump to his death if they were kicked out, because he’d rather die than be deported, if I told my grandmother about the white policeman who stood across from him on the roof and beckoned to this suicidal man, first with a banana and then with handcuffs, how would she respond? If I asked my grandma Rita whether she can see parallels between the hatred my father faced in the GDR—even from her friends and colleagues—and the hatred my brother and I faced from classmates, parents, and everyone who was generally a fan of Hitler’s, if I asked her, if she could see the parallels between the hatred that Black people face in the U.S. systematically and the hatred that refugees face permanently, worldwide, what would she say?

Out 30, 6:30 am

>70 ursula: This seems quite interesting! And Tubular Bells take me way back in time! :)

Out 30, 7:48 am

Ok, what’s your favorite Pink Floyd album? (They were a high school favorite of mine. I started listening to them again four or five years ago, and quickly grew reattached again.)

Out 30, 10:57 am

>68 ursula: Wow, you've got a lot for me this week.

That Steve Stills/Manassas album was huge for my group in high school. It was more or less a country-rock/blues supergroup. Lots of good songwriting and impassioned playing. I listened to this all the way through recently myself and it still holds up for me. The group put out a second album that was nowhere near as good, as both the songwriting and playing seemed tired and uninspired. The air was coming out of the first iteration of the country-rock balloon by then, I think.

Tea for the Tillerman was a relevatory album when it first came out. The storytelling was first-rate and the spare singing and instrumentation style were refreshing. Plus, Cat Stevens and Gordon Lightfoot were the two "rock" performers that my mother enjoyed, so I could play this album in the house as much as I cared to.

I mostly shrugged off David Bowie at the time. I'm going back these days and realizing how innovative (and enjoyable) quite a lot of his music was.

I've never cared a whit for Pink Floyd. To each his/her/their own!

Countdown to Ecstasy: Those first four or five Steely Dan albums were heaven to my ears. Clever lyrics (not that I always knew/know what they're on about) and razor sharp musicianship. Fagen was known to be a taskmaster in the studio, and it shows on the albums.

"Paul McCartney, whatever. . . . " I'm with you entirely, there. The whole McCartney/Wings era is a waste to me of meaningless lyrics and weak pop pseudo-melodies.

Stop Making Sense: Talking Heads was a band that I kind of liked when their albums first came out. Obviously, they were thinking, which was good, and the albums were interestingly, musically. However, they got short shrift from me as that was the time I was beginning to pivot strongly towards jazz. I will say that those records hold up very well for me these several decades later. I saw the band on Steven Colbert's show the other evening. They are going around promoting the theatrical re-release of the Stop Making Sense concert documentary, which I am very much looking forward, now, to seeing.

Out 30, 11:32 am

Tea for the Tillerman was the first album I ever purchased with my own money, so I'll always have a soft spot for it.

I need to get out and see Stop Making Sense. I saw it when it first came out and loved it, and saw them in Forest Hills in 1983... I don't think it was that tour, though. Tina Weymouth was very pregnant.

Out 30, 12:12 pm

>72 dchaikin: When I was a student I was adamant that Atom Heart Mother was unarguably the best Pink Floyd album. :) Luckily for the people around me I've stopped caring as much.

Out 30, 12:16 pm

>75 chlorine: it has its place! I’ve migrated to PF’s more mainstream stuff as, well, that’s what my daughter was interested in (briefly).

Out 30, 2:40 pm

>71 chlorine: It was very interesting, but now I'm using a very long, very negative review in German as a reading exercise, haha.

Tubular Bells was interesting, I was not familiar with anything beyond the part in The Exorcist.

>73 rocketjk: I didn't care for this Manassas album as much as for the Stephen Stills self-titled. There was one song I liked, but the rest were just sort of there.

Love that you could play Cat Stevens (and Gordon Lightfoot) to your hearts' content. Luckily my parents never cared much about what I played, or they secretly also loved "Material Girl". ;)

I thought Low was okay, I didn't feel like I was really missing out on much by never having listened to it.

The appeal of Steely Dan continues to evade me.

I love Talking Heads. I need to go back and listen to the new version of the Stop Making Sense album (it's the only one available on Apple Music now, but since I was listening in the context of the best 80s albums list, I stripped out all the extra stuff and reordered it to match the original release). I haven't seen the movie, aside from bits and pieces, I don't think.

Out 30, 2:41 pm

>74 lisapeet: Always love hearing about the first albums bought with your own money! (I think mine might have been Bon Jovi - Slippery When Wet. I do not have a soft spot for it!)

1983 would have been an excellent time to see Talking Heads, how fun!

Out 30, 2:47 pm

Circling back around to the Floyd discussion:

>72 dchaikin: My favorite Pink Floyd album is Wish You Were Here. But it's the "favorite" in the sense that it's the only one I have in my music library, having added it when it appeared on the 1001 list a couple of months ago. It's the only one I can imagine actually putting on to listen to (not that I have done that in the last ... 15 or 20 years). Dark Side is fine, but I would never choose it as a thing to listen to. I've done my time with The Wall, don't need to do any more (I mean I'm sure it'll show up on these lists, and I'll listen to it because I am trying to listen with new ears, but I am positive I won't be adding that one). I've listened to the early ones through the lists and ugh. Later ones, I don't know too much about because I was never a huge fan to start off with. Morgan says he likes Animals.

>75 chlorine: At least it isn't that one that everyone hates (googling ...) right: A Momentary Lapse of Reason.

>76 dchaikin: I daresay most people go through some sort of Floyd phase.

Out 30, 2:58 pm

>79 ursula: Younger me was also adamant that Pink Floyd without Roger Waters wasn't Pink Floyd so I actually never listened to A momentary lapse of reason! :D

Editado: Out 30, 6:45 pm

Maybe I’m a rare fan of Momentary Lapse of Reason. It’s not _essential_, if you like. Wish You Were Here is my favorite album and i adore the title song. I also like Animals, and still, The Wall and The Final Cut.

My daughter asked for songs, and I sent her Wish You Were Here and Comfortably Numb.

(Having said all that, i really dislike Roger Waters as a public figure.)

Out 30, 4:20 pm

>77 ursula: I'd be interested in that review of 1,000 Coils of Fear, if it's on-line at all. I found the book to be one that I still think about now and again.

Out 30, 7:57 pm

Low and Stop Making Sense would be the standout albums for me, but then again I am only familiar with seven of them from this weeks selection

I don't share all of the love for Pink Floyd, but prefer their earlier releases Ummagumma is my favourite followed by the Syd Barrett inspired Piper at the Gates of Dawn

Out 31, 5:22 am

>82 RidgewayGirl: It's just a goodreads review/rant. You can find it here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/5124626532

>80 chlorine: I think maybe I've never listened to any of the post-Roger Waters stuff? I have no idea.

>81 dchaikin: Trying to think what I would have offered someone asking for songs. Certainly Wish You Were Here. I think maybe I'd pick something off Dark Side for a second song - Us and Them? Brain Damage? I dunno. Not debating your choice, it's a good one. Just contemplating. :)

My daughter went through a phase in high school of delving into influences for all the bands she was into - she came out of it a big Joy Division fan.

Roger Waters is eminently dislikable. I haven't kept up with anything about him but I did see he was investigated in Germany for his re-staging of The Wall because it had Nazi-adjacent imagery? I mean, no kidding? It's certainly not pro-Nazi/fascism. And I know he's supported Palestine, which is a point in his favor in my book. *

*disclaimer: as I said, I haven't kept up on literally anything about him, ever. If he has an anti-Semitic past, I have no idea about it. But supporting Palestine is not anti-Semitic, and neither is The Wall.

>83 baswood: Stop Making Sense is a standout in any case. :)

Editado: Out 31, 10:05 am

Tokyo Ueno Station by Miri Yu

First line: There's that sound again.

I was surprised to read this novel about a homeless man in Japan, and the community he lives in. I've never thought about whether or not there were homeless people in Japan (it certainly doesn't fit the (foggy) mental image I have of the country), and how they might be treated. Sadly but unsurprisingly I guess it's pretty similar to the US - they're figuratively invisible most of the time and forced to be literally invisible when anyone important is visiting the area where they have their camps.

The narrator is a ghost who hangs out in the area where he lived and died, reflecting on the homeless and on how his life led to this.

Quote: I used to think life was like a book: you turn the first page, and there's the next, and as you go on turning page after page, eventually you reach the last one. But life is nothing like a story in a book. There may be words, and the pages may be numbered, but there is no plot. There may be an ending, but there is no end.

Out 31, 10:19 am

Both 1,000 Coils of Fear and Tokyo Ueno Station involved suicides by train, and it was kind of a lot for me to end up reading those at the same time. I often find that reads line up with some shared details or plot points, even though I don't know what the plots of the books I'm about to read are. :)

In this case, it was a difficult pairing. I lost a friend to that suicide method in 2009, and immediately after her death there was one of the clusters of train suicides at Palo Alto high schools that sometimes happen. At the time, my daughter was going through terrible problems with depression and I was worried sick, but living in Denver so unable to really do much except exchange middle-of-the-night text messages.

Anyway, it can be a difficult topic for me, and both of these had reasons why the depictions were particularly affecting. It feels a little ... wrong ... I guess, to feel such a struggle with it - I still sometimes have short anxiety attacks when a train approaches and I cannot stand to look at anyone too close to the tracks.

Glad to be through those two books.

Out 31, 11:49 pm

That’s sad. I’m sorry about your friend. And understand the anxiety now that my daughter is in CA (I’m in TX). The homeless in Japan part sounds interesting.

Nov 1, 2:34 am

>86 ursula: I'm sorry you had to live through this. If I understand correctly your daughter overcame at least partly her depression.

Tokyo Ueno Station does seem interesting even though it tackles difficult subjects.

Nov 1, 4:23 am

>87 dchaikin: It was definitely an interesting topic, but also probably best described as "unrelentingly bleak." It was short, though.

It was a rough time - she was struggling mightily and every couple of days there was another suicide (most of this group was from the other high school rather than hers, but I think there was 1 or 2 from her school as well). A time I'm just glad we got through.

I'm used to being far away from her now, although there's some level of concern all the time. :) I've bounced around various places in the US and Europe and she's gone from CA to NY to GA to KY.

>88 chlorine: Yes, it was a critical period but she got through it and has not had such lows since.

The book shines a light on people who are often unseen, and that's a worthwhile thing to do.

Nov 1, 5:21 am

>89 ursula: I'm glad to hear she's doing better.

Nov 1, 12:54 pm

Nineteen Claws and a Black Bird by Agustina Bazterrica

I managed to squeeze in one more finished book for October, bringing the total to 9 for the month. It's been a while since I got through that many books in a month. This was also my third book of short stories in the month, which is crazy. I sometimes read fewer short story collections in a year than that.

Anyhow! Bazterrica wrote Tender Is the Flesh about a dystopian future where humans are farmed for meat. As you might expect from that, these stories are often grim, sometimes graphic, and deeply, deeply weird. A lot of them are pretty short - just a few pages long. That's not my favorite length for a story, but I think most of the time she managed to communicate her idea and get out before it dragged on that way. A couple of them will stick with me, but I found the collection uneven overall. Extra half a star for the stories that had me wondering what on earth the inside of Bazterrica's mind must be like.

Nov 3, 11:58 am

>85 ursula: I just read Tokyo Ueno Station too. I can’t say that I loved it (apart from anything else I suspect my knowledge of Japan is so poor that some (a lot?) of it went over my head), but it was worth reading for a completely fresh view of Japan. (I, too, am often fascinated to note coincidental connections between books - I’m sorry that this latest one of yours was such a difficult one).

Nov 4, 6:00 am

>90 chlorine: ❤️

>92 rachbxl: Oh, interesting that you just read it too! I don't know much (anything) about Japan - I don't have any particular interest in the country but I ended up starting a project to read a bunch of Japanese novels this year for statistical reasons.

I'm surprised by how often I run across similarities in books, and I feel like sometimes they're similarities that you might not run across in another book for years. Dunno exactly how it happens, but there you go!

Nov 6, 3:22 am

The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel

First line: Begin at the end: plummeting down the side of the ship in the storm's wild darkness, breath gone with the shock of falling, my camera flying away through the rain ---

There's a lot going on in this novel - the title hotel out in the middle of nowhere, British Columbia has the sort-of-main-character Vincent working as a bartender when she meets a rich customer, Jonathan Alkaitis, and they get involved with each other. Vincent's brother Paul is also briefly working at the hotel, and he'll come up later. The hotel will come back later, too, but not for a long time. Meanwhile, Vincent lives with Jonathan in the kingdom of money, until she doesn't. We also spend time with some of Jonathan's employees, and one of his investors, and a strange woman who turns up a couple of times and ...

I like multiple threads, and I like esoteric connections between people's lives, but I kind of struggled with this one. Some of that may be my own fault because I know that some of these characters turn up in Mandel's Sea of Tranquility, which I read last year, but apparently don't remember well enough to pick up on most of the overlap. So I spent a lot of my time wracking my brain for how things fit together, which a reader of her books in order wouldn't have done. I still tentatively say that the narrative in this one was too amorphous.

Quote: There is exquisite lightness in waking each morning with the knowledge that the worst has already happened.

Nov 6, 10:51 am

Weekly 5x5

A Wizard, A True Star - Todd Rundgren [rock] (1001 Albums list)
AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted - Ice Cube [hip hop] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
At Last! - Etta James [blues/jazz] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Slanted & Enchanted - Pavement [alternative] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
On Fire - Galaxie 500 [shoegaze/dream pop] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list) +

Summer Moon - There Will Be Fireworks [indie] (new releases) +
Born in the USA - Bruce Springsteen [rock] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
Isn’t Anything - My Bloody Valentine [shoegaze] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
Dirt Femme - Tove Lo [dance pop] (2022 lists)
Come Away with ESG - ESG [funk] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)

Autofiction - Suede [alternative] (2022 lists)
Laugh Track - The National [indie] (new releases)
Hold - Wild Nothing [synth pop] (new releases)
Sheet Music - 10cc [rock] (1001 Albums list)
As a Sketch Pad (Lp) - as a sketchpad [emo] (new releases) +

Willy and the Poor Boys - Creedence Clearwater Revival [rock] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Brown Sugar - D’Angelo [r&b] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
The Sensual World - Kate Bush [art rock] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
Animal Drowning - Knifeplay [shoegaze/dream pop] (2022 lists) +
Alpha Zulu - Phoenix [pop] (2022 lists)

EVOL - Sonic Youth [alternative] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
Two Conversations - The Appleseed Cast [emo] (self pick)
How Is It That I Should Look At the Stars - The Weather Station [folk] (2022 lists)
Honky Tonk Heroes - Waylon Jennings [country] (1001 Albums list) +
Tres Hombres - ZZ Top [rock] (1001 Albums list)

******Notes on this week:
  • Below the list:
    Innervisions - Stevie Wonder (1001 Albums list)
    Bongo Rock - Incredible Bongo Band (1001 Albums list)
    Next … - The Sensational Alex Harvey Band (1001 Albums list)
    The B-52s - The B-52s (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Master of Puppets - Metallica (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
    Blending - High Vis (2022 lists)
    Reset - Panda Bear & Sonic Boom (2022 lists)
    Gold - Alabaster Deplume (2022 lists, partial album)
    Boom. Done. - Anthony Green (self pick)
    Love’s Holiday - Oxbow (new releases)

    Skipped for recency
    3+3 - The Isley Brothers (1001 Albums list)
    Body Talk - Robyn (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Songs of Leonard Cohen - Leonard Cohen (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Bad - Michael Jackson (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Licensed to Ill - Beastie Boys (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Tommy - The Who (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Electric Warrior - T. Rex (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    She’s So Unusual - Cyndi Lauper (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Double Nickels on the Dime - Minutemen (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)

  • Favorite album I’d never listened to before: Galaxie 500, On Fire. Really good, not boring dream pop. Probably tied with Knifeplay from the 2022 lists. I wasn’t sure at all what that was going to be with a name like that, but it was really good.

  • I also enjoyed the new There Will Be Fireworks album, and the Waylon Jennings from the 1001 list. Master of Puppets isn't my favorite Metallica album, but it's a good one.

    I’ll be honest, there is a lot of competition for the worst thing I put in my ear holes this week. My gut feeling is that it was 10cc, but honestly the Todd Rundgren and Ice Cube were also lyrically repugnant. Oh, and The Sensational Alex Harvey Band. And Alabaster Deplume was sonically awful along with having the worst “positive” lyrics I’ve heard in a long time. I really don’t like Kate Bush’s voice, but she’s a distant contender in this crowd. And Born in the USA, well, I had to hear that enough when I was young, I listened with new ears and … I still hate it.

  • Hit some list milestones: I’m well into the top 200 of the RS list, and past album 300 on the 1001 list (which seems like it would follow but there’s a fair amount of overlap that results in skips on both lists, so it’s just sort of funny that it’s lined up like that). And I’m in the top 50 on the 80s list.

Nov 6, 12:01 pm

>95 ursula: Ah, the great force that was Etta James. I got to see her live in San Francisco several times. Talk about a powerful voice and heart-rending delivery!

Nov 6, 5:37 pm

In my opinion it would not have been a great listening week for me.
However a shout out for the B 52's

Nov 7, 3:19 am

>96 rocketjk: Wow! Several times, even. Very cool.

>97 baswood: It was not a great listening week for me either! Yes, always fun to listen to the B-52s.

Nov 10, 11:14 am

The Woman in the Purple Skirt by Natsuko Imamura

First line: There's a person living not too far from me known as the Woman in the Purple Skirt.

This was an odd little book. The title character seems to be a bit of an oddity in the neighborhood, spending a lot of her time sitting on a specific bench in the park, maybe floating between jobs. The narrator calls herself The Woman in the Yellow Cardigan. She is unnaturally interested in the WitPS, seemingly benevolently. She tries to surreptitiously give her a lead on a job, for example. But as things progress, you start to wonder about the WitYC's motivations and ultimate intent.

The book never really gets totally dark, but it's also pretty far from normal. A short, quick read, but one I'm left unsure how I feel about.

Nov 10, 11:31 am

>99 ursula: The premise seems quite interesting. Too bad it did not quite deliver.

Nov 10, 11:44 am

I can't really say it didn't deliver; it might have delivered what it meant to. But it was in a weird in-between state for me: not normal enough to just be a slice of life, and not menacing enough to be some sort of suspense.

Nov 10, 11:46 am

>94 ursula: Thanks for the review! I was pleased to see I am not the only one who struggled with this book. And I had already read Station Eleven and Sea of Tranquility. Emily St. John Mandel is such a good writer but I found The Glass Hotel to be over complex in characters and in plot. I loved her two earlier novels.

Nov 11, 3:47 am

Weekly 5x5

The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway - Genesis [progressive rock] (1001 Albums list)
Blood on the Tracks - Bob Dylan [folk rock] (1001 Albums list)
Fear of a Black Planet - Public Enemy [hip hop] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Blood Sugar Sex Magik - Red Hot Chili Peppers [rock] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
1989 (Taylor’s Version) - Taylor Swift [pop] (new releases) +

Dig Me Out - Sleater-Kinney [punk] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Pacific Ocean Blue - Dennis Wilson [rock] (1001 Albums list)
Angels & Queens - Gabriels [r&b/soul] (2022 lists)
Surrender - Maggie Rogers [indie pop] (self pick)
Nymph - Shygirl [pop] (2022 lists)

LOGGERHEAD - Wu-Lu [alternative] (2022 lists)
Bringing It All Back Home - Bob Dylan [folk rock] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
The Grand Tour - George Jones [country] (1001 Albums list)
This Way Out - Idaho [slowcore] (self pick) +
Court and Spark - Joni Mitchell [pop] (1001 Albums list)

Tim - The Replacements [indie] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) - David Bowie [rock] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
Lost Songs: Lines and Shapes (Demo) - L.S. Dunes [post-hardcore] (new releases) +
Two Ribbons - Let’s Eat Grandma [pop] (2022 lists)
Infinite Spring - Superviolet [indie rock] (new releases) +

History Books - The Gaslight Anthem [indie rock] (new releases)
You’re Living All Over Me - Dinosaur Jr. [alternative rock] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
Bad Company - Bad Company [rock] (1001 Albums list)
No Other - Gene Clark [folk rock] (1001 Albums list) +
Skeleton Tree - Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds [avant-garde] (self pick) +

******Notes on this week:
  • Below the list:
    Life After Death - The Notorious B.I.G. (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list, partial album)
    Ghosted - Oren Ambarchi (2022 lists)
    Autobahn - Kraftwerk (1001 Albums list)
    The Great Adventures of Slick Rick - Slick Rick (200 Best Albums of the 80s list, partial album)

    Skipped for recency:
    Here Come the Warm Jets - Brian Eno (1001 Albums list)
    Head Hunters - Herbie Hancock (1001 Albums list)
    Beggars Banquet - The Rolling Stones (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Sweet Baby James - James Taylor (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Forever Changes - Love (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Otis Blue - Otis Redding (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Every Picture Tells a Story - Rod Stewart (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)

    Skipped for not needing to hear it ever again:
    461 Ocean Boulevard - Eric Clapton (1001 Albums list)

  • It was a pretty good week overall. A decent number of albums already in my library, which I sometimes listen to and sometimes don’t when they come up on a list. Another Peter Gabriel Genesis album, always love that. Blood on the Tracks, which I actually listened to twice because after the first listen I realized Morgan had it on vinyl so I put it on. I put on Skeleton Tree because I’m listening to the audio book by Nick Cave, Faith, Hope and Carnage and he talks about it quite a lot. I listened to it before, it was on a best-of list for the year it came out, but it was good to revisit it.

    Taylor Swift’s re-recording releases continue with 1989. This is a pretty fun album, it’s nice to have Taylor’s version in my library and be able to delete the old one. It was also nice to revisit Public Enemy, I loved this album when it came out. The music they created by layering and cutting up so many samples is amazing.

  • Biggest discovery: Gene Clark, No Other. Loved that! One of the songs sounded a ton like Neil Young’s Cowgirl in the Sand but honestly I’m not sure which song I think is better.

    Worst thing I put in my earholes this week: probably between Let’s Eat Grandma and Slick Rick, which although he’s talented, the lyrics made me just completely unable to finish the album.

  • In just about a month, the 2023 best-of lists are going to start coming out, so I'm feeling some pressure to get through as much of the 2022 lists as I can, as well as to think about my own best albums of 2023.

+ = added to my library
♥ = already in my library

Nov 11, 3:49 am

>102 kjuliff: Yeah, so you were in the same situation I was (having read the other books first). I think I'd rank them Station Eleven, Sea of Tranquility, The Glass Hotel, which is also the order I read them in. But like I said, I wonder if it suffered from having read Sea of Tranquility first, I kept thinking that The Glass Hotel felt like setup for that one. Although maybe without that I would have just felt like it was incomplete? Not sure.

Nov 11, 7:14 am

>104 ursula: Thinking back I can’t remember for sure, but I may have read Sea of Tranquility before Station Eleven. In any case I had no problem with either of these books and liked them both. Like you, I read The Glass Hotel Last. When I read GH I was expecting it to be a nuanced sequel to either or both of the other two; that is I hadn’t realised the order in which the books were written while I was reading them them.

I think now that this was my problem. I was reading GH as a finale. And of course it’s weird reading consecutive books in a loosely connected series that include time-travel.

I do think Emily St John Mandel is a very good writer and look forward to her next nove.

Nov 11, 8:31 am

>103 ursula: I'm glad you liked the Gene Clark album. He's an unfortunately under-appreciated artist, I think. Among other things, he was an original member of the Byrds but dropped out early because he was afraid to fly. Another wonderful album of his, spare but very powerful emotionally, is called "White Light."

"Blood on the Tracks" Goodness what a great collection of songs. I'm pretty sure I could play that whole album in my head without missing a note.

How did the Bad Company album hold up? I haven't listened to it in a long time. Paul Rogers has one of the great singing voices in rock history, but, given the era, I wouldn't be shocked if the album turned out to be full of misogynist lyrics.

"Skipped for not needing to hear it ever again:
461 Ocean Boulevard - Eric Clapton (1001 Albums list)"

This made me laugh. Possibly the most boring album ever by a supposedly "major" artist. As a matter of fact, for my money Clapton (whose playing I revered during my mid-70s college days) never did anything truly interesting after Derek and the Dominoes.

Nov 13, 9:53 am

Mother of Strangers by Suad Amiry

First line: It took a few ascending yells -- "Subhi! Subhi! Subhi! Goddamn, walak, Subhiii!" -- before he showed signs of hearing his name.

This novel begins in the 1940s in Palestine. Subhi is a teenager concerned with the usual things - his job as a mechanic, his plans to get through school, the girl he believes himself in love with, how to make all his friends jealous. He does a job for a rich orange grove owner and part of his payment is a fine English suit. But the reader knows that we're approaching the time of the Nakba and there is no way that things will go smoothly for Subhi or anyone else in the novel.

After that event, the novel broadens its focuses to include what happens to Shams (the girl Subhi was in love with). And it's here that I feel like things went off the rails a bit. If we had spent more time with her earlier in the novel, it may have been more effective. Or if we had spent more time with Subhi in the latter half (it felt like he disappeared entirely for too long, and when he reappears it is not as I might have expected). Anyway, I hesitate to criticize too much; the story is a personal one to the author (as laid out in the author's note) and I think there is something to be gained from reading Palestinian voices whether or not I find the end result completely satisfying.

Quote: Panic, horror, and hysteria took hold of the city. Those who were inside buildings rushed out, and those in the streets frantically hurried into buildings. The injured and the dead were left lying in the streets. Run for your life or join the dead. Everyone was searching for a way out: by car, by bus, on a truck, on a cart, on a bike. Looting was pervasive. Robberies were many. There was no water, no electricity, and no fuel. No ovens to bake a loaf of bread, or shops to buy food from - or, for that matter, banks from which to withdraw money.

Nov 13, 9:58 am

>106 rocketjk: I listened to White Light a couple of weeks ago, it didn't make a big impression at the time but I'll go back and revisit it.

Bad Company was fine, I guess - I have no idea why anyone thought it needed to be listened to before one dies. Morgan said he could have happily lived without it. ;) I don't remember particularly misogynistic lyrics but I admit I drifted in and out mentally aside from the songs I already knew.

Clapton never did anything truly interesting after Derek and the Dominoes.

Unless you consider being a right-wing nutjob interesting, I guess!

Nov 13, 10:55 am

Yes lots of good plays this week Dylan of course and Joni Mitchell. I agree with you all about Eric Clapton. I also like Bowie's Scary monsters and another minor classic from Sleater-Kinney.

Nov 14, 3:40 am

>109 baswood: I liked this Joni Mitchell. I also liked whatever the last album of hers was that I ran across on one of the lists. I think maybe my problem isn't Joni Mitchell, it's Blue.

Yes, Scary Monsters has its moments, definitely. And the Sleater-Kinney is an album that both Morgan and I thought we disliked, but when we listened to it for a list we couldn't figure out why we both had such a negative impression, haha. So I listened to it again for this list and yep, still a good one.

Nov 14, 9:41 am

I saw Clapton live once somewhere around 1990. He would just keep playing his solos for ever. I enjoyed it.

I haven’t listened to The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway for decades. But it brings back good memories

Nov 14, 9:55 am

I’ve seen Dylan three times. Melbourne, NY and Queens. The first time was in Australia when he had recently changed to electric guitar. People were shocked and there was a lot of division. Pro_Bob and anti. We didn’t know we had it so good. All we had to divide us then was rock vs folk! How the world has changed.

Nov 14, 1:41 pm

>112 kjuliff: I was at the Bob Dylan / Grateful Dead concert in Highgate Vermont in 1995 with 100,000 of my closest friends. Jerry Garcia died just a couple of months later. Hearing All Along the Watchtower live was amazing, even at that late date.

Editado: Nov 14, 5:29 pm

Mensagem removida pelo autor.

Nov 14, 6:10 pm

>112 kjuliff: I saw Dylan in concert sometime in the early nineties in a fairly small venue. I was around 20 and the other concert goers were much older (probably not much older, but I was only 20) and the other people kept pushing me closer to the stage since it was my first Dylan concert. It was a great evening. And The Alarm opened for him and I can only say that there was no visible overlap between the two audiences.

Nov 14, 7:33 pm

>115 RidgewayGirl: I was so pleased Dylan received the Nobel prize in Literature.
Interestingly he can’t remember how he came up with lyrics such as those in “A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall”. In an interview I saw recently he said he could never write like that now.

I wonder whether the books he named in his official Nobel Prize lecture - Moby Dick The Odyssey and All Quiet on the Western Front really did have a big impact on his writing.

Nov 15, 3:08 am

>111 dchaikin: You should put it on again! :)

Okay, lots of Dylan talk. I've never seen him and while I'm sure it would have been fun I have no regrets.

>113 labfs39: Although Dylan/Grateful Dead is not a bill I would ever have wanted to see.

Nov 15, 7:44 am

>118 labfs39: It was an experience... lol

Editado: Nov 15, 3:55 pm

Sorry, coming in late with a bit more Dylan talk. I've gotten to see several great Dylan concerts, starting with two shows from the Rolling Thunder Review tours during my college days. First I saw the show in at the arena in Providence (the business in the Scorsese movie about them showing up and handing out fliers for that concert is entirely made up. That show was sold out weeks in advance.) and then, most gloriously, at the gym on the Brandeis University campus. Both Joni Mitchell and Arlo Guthrie performed at the Brandeis show. Other memorable Dylan shows I've seen included one at the Santa Cruz, CA, community center, the Greek Theater (an outdoor amphitheater in Berkeley, CA) and at a great old venue called the Fox Theater in Redwood City, CA, for which the opening act was Merle Haggard.

Nov 15, 11:35 am

>118 labfs39: Haha, I'm sure it was!

>119 rocketjk: No apology necessary. You know, I just found out that all this time the Santa Cruz community center was mis-named? I was looking up the venue to figure out if I'd ever seen anything there (nope, only the Civic), and I kept running across things calling it the London Nelson community center, which made me say "what? Isn't it Louden Nelson??" Anyway, that was interesting - it used to be Louden Nelson but apparently the guy's name was actually London. And I've seen some good shows at the Greek in Berkeley as well. Never made it to the Fox Theater though - Morgan might have; I'll have to ask him.

Nov 15, 12:22 pm

>119 rocketjk: My Dylan story is that The Band visited my house when they and Dylan were in Melbourne on tour, and I was too busy to come down into the living room to say hi.

Editado: Nov 15, 3:54 pm

>120 ursula: "it used to be Louden Nelson but apparently the guy's name was actually London."

When in New York, be sure to see a concert at Madison Squire Garden! :)

>121 kjuliff: Yikes! I hope you were at least reading a good book up there!

Nov 15, 4:38 pm

>122 rocketjk: I was doing something much more interesting than reading a book. 😉

Nov 16, 3:15 am

>122 rocketjk: It just rewrote everything I knew about Santa Cruz! 😂

Nov 17, 3:21 am

Do you know that at the top of my thread I've been saying I'm 52 years old and I won't be 52 until January? My last thread said I was 51 but I think when I started this one for some reason I thought that was wrong. 51, 52, whatever.

Nov 17, 6:22 am

What a difference a year makes?

Nov 18, 9:58 am

The Wenzel sounds interesting. I think I actually picked it up from the library new books shelf. It didn't make it home, but I might give it a try. I often am amazed at how there is a synchronicity between books. It happened to me recently with Zadie Smith's new one and a collection of essays. Patricia Hempl, in The Art of the Wasted Day talks about the Ladies of Llangollen, and in her novel, Smith has a throwaway line about the Ladies -- people I had never heard of previously!

Love, love, love "Blood on the Tracks."

Nov 18, 12:04 pm

>125 ursula: This made me smile. I can remember how old I am this year because I had a milestone birthday, but trust me I'll go back to not remembering next year.

Nov 19, 2:50 am

>126 baswood: None, apparently!

>127 BLBera: Yes! I love it when there are these little coincidences. I'll be curious how you get on with 1,000 Coils of Fear if you give it a shot.

Blood on the Tracks ❤️

>128 bell7: I seem to often have trouble remembering. I keep doing the math and still not believing the results, haha.

Nov 21, 4:18 am

The Flowers of Buffoonery by Osamu Dazai

First line: "Welcome to Sadness. Population one."

Earlier this year I read Dazai's No Longer Human and it was offputting and strange, especially with compared with his own life (uncomfortably close to the novel). This is an earlier novella featuring the same character from No Longer Human, and I feel no less uncomfortable.

The main character is a young man, Yozo, who tries to commit suicide with a woman by jumping into the ocean. The woman dies; the man lives. This story takes place while Yozo is in the hospital after the incident, and his friends are keeping him company. The narrator is the novelist, who keeps breaking the fourth wall and commenting negatively on his own writing.

It's ... interesting. But honestly I had a hard time with both of these books because of the closeness to his own life (5 years before he wrote this book, Dazai attempted a double suicide with a woman in the same manner - she died, he lived. And ultimately he would die by drowning with a woman). It is hard for me to separate that and see the character as someone other than the author.

Anyway, I'm also re-reading The Stranger right now and I'll tell you what - there's an interesting conversation to be had about these two books taken together.

Nov 21, 12:04 pm

Weekly 5x5

20 Golden Greats - Buddy Holly & the Crickets [rock] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Hatful of Hollow - The Smiths [alterative] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
Bad Brains - Bad Brains [punk] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
Ivory - Omar Apollo [r&b] (2022 lists)
Higher - Chris Stapleton [country] (new releases)

Cherry - Daphni [electronic] (2022 lists)
DAMN. - Kendrick Lamar [hip hop] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Daydream Nation - Sonic Youth [alternative] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Psychocandy - The Jesus and Mary Chain [alternative rock] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
Southeastern - Jason Isbell [country] (TrebleZine 100 all-time favorite albums list)

The Harder They Come - Jimmy Cliff [reggae/soundtrack] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Good Old Boys - Randy Newman [rock] (1001 Albums list)
Heal My Head - Valleyheart [indie rock] (2022 lists)
Stew - A Will Away [emo] (2022 lists) +
HELLMODE - Jeff Rosenstock [punk] (new releases)

Graceland - Paul Simon [rock] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
11 - Sault [r&b] (2022 lists)
Pretzel Logic - Steely Dan [rock] (1001 Albums list)
Lucky for You - Bully [indie rock] (new releases)
Everything I Lack - Elliott Green [singer/songwriter] (new releases) +

Learning To Be Happy - Kayleigh Goldsworthy [pop] (self pick)
Country Life - Roxy Music [art rock] (1001 Albums list) +
Kimono My House - Sparks [art rock] (1001 Albums list)
Fulfillingness’ First Finale - Stevie Wonder [soul] (1001 Albums list)
The Stranger - Billy Joel [rock] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)

******Notes on this week:
  • Below the list:
    Rock Bottom - Robert Wyatt (1001 Albums list)
    Winter in America - Gil Scott-Heron & Brian Jackson +
    Violator - Depeche Mode (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list) ♥
    In the Garden, By the Weeds - Josaleigh Pollett
    Fugazi - Fugazi (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)

    Skipped for recency:
    On the Beach - Neil Young (1001 Albums list) ♥
    Queen II - Queen (1001 Albums list)
    Sheer Heart Attack - Queen (1001 Albums list) ♥
    I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight - Richard & Linda Thompson (1001 Albums list)
    In Utero - Nirvana (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list) ♥
    Bridge Over Troubled Water - Simon & Garfunkel (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list) ♥
    Can’t Buy a Thrill - Steely Dan (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    The Joshua Tree - U2 (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
    The Lion and the Cobra - Sinead O’Connor (200 Best Albums of the 80s list) ♥
    Rain Dogs - Tom Waits (200 Best Albums of the 80s list) ♥

    Skipped for Eric Clapton (okay, and recency)
    Disraeli Gears - Cream (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)

  • A decent amount of stuff this week that was already in my library, so a pretty good week in that way. I really liked this Roxy Music album. It was more approachable than their self-titled but not the completely smoothed-out version of them on Avalon. This is, I think, the second time I listened to this Kendrick Lamar album, and I liked it considerably more. Still not something I'd put on for myself, but I can understand the accolades.

  • The Stranger ❤️. I've probably mentioned before, it's literally the only Billy Joel album I listen to. I have 80 Billy Joel scrobbles; 70 are from this album. Vienna is one of my favorite songs of all time.

  • A good discovery from the 2022 lists: A Will Away, and one from the new releases: Elliott Green. The latter really reminds me of Julien Baker, who I love.

  • The worst thing I put in my ear holes this week: nothing really jumps out, but I was not into the Randy Newman, Daphni, or Bad Brains (it was like whiplash going from punk to reggae on the same record).

+ = added to my library
♥ = already in my library

Editado: Nov 21, 12:22 pm

>131 ursula: just a couple of quick comments this week:

I've only gotten into Jason Isbel recently, I'm sorry to say, but wow, he is a great songwriter and performer

I find that Jimmy Cliff album extremely powerful and well made, and I'm a huge fan of those early Steely Dan albums.

All of the Gil Scott-Heron/Brian Jackson albums are powerful testaments. Their live double-album, It's Your World, is very good. I got to see them a couple of times during my mid-70s college days in Boston at a great venue called Paul's Mall.

Of course I love Graceland just like everybody else does, but for my money the real Paul Simon masterpiece was his follow-up album, Rhythm of the Saints, for which Simon used South American folk melodies, rhythms and musicians in the same way he'd employed South African elements in Graceland. The later album is a bit on the pessimistic side, lyrically, and didn't get the same sort of reception. Or maybe the world was just over Paul Simon's musical globetrotting. Anyway, for some reason, I listen to Rhythm of the Saints much more often than I do Graceland.

Great listening. Cheers!

Nov 21, 1:49 pm

>132 rocketjk: I love Jason Isbell so much! I will not be surprised if his 2023 album Weathervanes shows up on my best of 2023 list. Also apparently he acquitted himself quite well in Killers of the Flower Moon, according to my daughter.

I think of you every time I run across another Steely Dan album on these lists! I still don't get it, but that's fine.

You've seen so many cool people perform.

I also used to be really into Rhythm of the Saints when it came out but I haven't revisited it that many times in recent years. I should put it on again and see what I think now.

Nov 21, 9:53 pm

"Good Old Boys" was my introduction to Randy Newman and insta-forever-love, but I was living in New Orleans with deeply conflicted feelings of outrage and love about the place (beautiful but horrible) and that satire, with the edge of hatred that only familiarity confers (and excuses), was balm to me. But some songs are truly gorgeous, like "Louisiana", some truly hilarious like "Naked Man", and later on the gentle, choked-with-feeling "Marie" would acquire a new poignancy; not that I could know that, the first time.

However, the whole album is so coloured by Louisiana/Southern atmosphere and politics that one might well wonder how it travels... I'm certain I wouldn't have reacted to it half as strongly had I heard it in Europe.

>130 ursula:

I think it's right to see Dazai's work as autobiographical. Placing it in the wider context of the literature of decadence might make more sense of the attitudes--but there's no doubt he shared the torment of his characters. IIRC, he was much influenced by Kleist, another (although much earlier, Romantic) stormy suicidal spirit.

Nov 21, 10:27 pm

Hatful of Hollow is, i think, my favorite Smiths album.

Nov 22, 3:23 am

>134 LolaWalser: Makes sense about Randy Newman. For me, listening all these years later, it seems very "of a time".

I just looked up Kleist, interesting. Also going to poke into the literature of decadence so thanks for that!

>135 dchaikin: I had never listened to it before. And I couldn't really pick out differences in the songs; I think the last time I listened to The Smiths (not for these lists) was in about 1999.

Nov 22, 6:09 am

Delicate Condition by Danielle Valentine

First line: All mothers have one thing in common: pain.

This was terrible! I read it because it's the source material for the current season of American Horror Story. I've seen it described as a "feminist Rosemary's Baby" but I don't entirely understand what is feminist about it; I may be thick, or I may have just been blinded by the awful writing.

Plot outline: Anna Victoria Alcott, successful actor (well, currently successful - she was a child star, then not taken seriously, and is now suddenly in Oscar contention) is married to Dex, who has a mysterious ex-wife he never wants to talk about. Anna and Dex have been trying to get pregnant, going through round after round of IVF. Finally one takes, and everyone is overjoyed. But things go wrong, and no one will listen to Anna as she tries to convince everyone that she is being targeted by someone or some group that doesn't want her pregnancy to continue. She miscarries, but then she feels the baby move and tries to convince everyone that her miscarriage didn't actually happen.

Look, pregnancy is a great topic for body horror, and the gaslighting aspect for women's concerns/pain is a real issue. But I feel like this book just muddied the water with a bunch of unnecessary plot points. And did I mention the writing is cringe-worthy?

Quote: I pressed my lips together to keep a sob from breaking across my face.

Editado: Nov 22, 9:55 am

>134 LolaWalser: I agree about the beauty of the song "Louisiana," which gained a whole lot of resonance in New Orleans and the surrounding area after Hurricane Katrina:

What has happened down here is the wind have changed
Clouds roll in from the north and it start to rain
It rained real hard and it rained for a real long time
Six feet of water in the streets of Evangeline

The river rose all day--The river rose all night
Some people got lost in the flood, some people got away alright
The river has busted through clear down to Plaquemine
Six feet of water in the streets of Evangeline

Louisiana, Louisiana
They're tryin' to wash us away
They're tryin' to wash us away
Louisiana, Louisiana
They're tryin' to wash us away
They're tryin' to wash us away

Here's an evocative video complete with photos of the aftermath of the 1927 flood:

Nov 22, 9:26 pm

137 Thanks for taking one for the team, Ursula. It sounds terrible.

Nov 23, 3:23 am

>138 rocketjk: Thanks for that.

>139 BLBera: I kind of assumed the book would be not-great if Ryan Murphy was taking it for American Horror Story but there is also always the possibility that it was great and he would just ruin it. ;) But the book was only published in August, and the series had already half-aired by around Halloween. They've been on a break since, which I joked was so Mr. Murphy could finish reading the book - but apparently it was just because of the writers' strike.

Nov 25, 10:07 am

That was my Thursday.

I also finished A Day in the Life of Abed Salama and need to post something about it. Oh, and my re-read of The Stranger.

Nov 25, 11:40 am

>141 ursula: in that case I’m really happy for you that it’s Friday. Hope it went OK.

Nov 26, 8:13 am

>142 dchaikin: Hmm, yeah. Thursday at least had anesthetic, even if I can't use the regular long-lasting stuff. Friday just had ibuprofen. :)

But it seems like it went all right, he looked at it the day after. I go back next Thursday to have the stitches removed. (Yes, stitches in my gum. They shaved off bone to fill in the hole around the screw.) And then eventually I get a crown for it and once again will be able to chew normally. It's only been since August ....

Nov 26, 10:18 am

>141 ursula: That's no fun at all. I hope you heal quickly.

Nov 26, 11:48 am

>141 ursula: I have two of these and they are life changers! In my case it was to take the place of two teeth that were never there and left a hole between teeth, so there was nothing problematic like a tooth removal leading up to it. I hope yours will be as good for me as mine is!

>137 ursula: Delicate condition seems awful but if it's any consolation the quote you made made me chuckle.

I'm looking forwards to your thoughts about The Stranger. It's interesting that it makes a pairing with The flowers of buffonery but your review did not create a strong urge to read it in me.

Nov 26, 1:05 pm

>143 ursula: is this an implant?
>145 chlorine: - I need something like this - two teeth. Were they able to do the two in the same sessions, or each group of sessions separately?

Nov 26, 1:46 pm

>141 ursula: I had one of those a few years ago, but I had to have a bone graph as well. It was a pigs bone and so I eat everything now.

They are effective and work really well - good luck with yours.

Nov 26, 2:57 pm

>141 ursula: - Good luck - I hope all heals without any drama.

Nov 26, 10:46 pm

>143 ursula: does not sound fun. Glad it went well. Hope the crown gets in place soon.

Nov 27, 2:43 am

>145 chlorine: Oh interesting. Yeah, they pulled the tooth and put in the screw at the same time at least.

I was hoping the quote would make someone laugh, it was just one of many instances of writing like that!

I think that for me, The Flowers of Buffoonery showed an uglier side of not fitting in to society - maybe partially because he had a group of friends who seemed to all be sharing in creating a facade of "normality", which then became hideous because it was just a mask. But as I said also, I have problems with Dazai's writing that I don't think I would have if I didn't feel like I had to ascribe the point of view to the author.

Nov 27, 2:44 am

>146 kjuliff: Yes, an implant.

>147 baswood: I had to have a bone graft too. They just did it at the same time, and with my own bone. Yes, I'm looking forward to it being done, it seems much better than a bridge for a variety of reasons.

Nov 27, 2:47 am

>148 BLBera: Me too! So far, so good. Made it through the weekend and my prescription of amoxicillin.

>144 RidgewayGirl: Oops missed you up there, thanks for the good wishes.

>149 dchaikin: Appreciated! Not sure how long to the crown but I guess I'm kind of used to not having a tooth there at this point, I'm looking forward to being able to chew on that side again one day...

Nov 27, 2:55 pm

Weekly 5x5

It’s Too Late to Stop Now - Van Morrison [rock] (1001 Albums list)
Did you know there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd - Lana Del Rey [pop] (new releases)
Saturday Night Fever - Various Artists [rock] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Mama’s Gun - Erykah Badu [r&b] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
The Black Album - Jay-Z [hip hop] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)

angel in realtime. - Gang of Youths [indie rock] (2022 lists)
Norm - Andy Shauf [singer/songwriter] (new releases)
Pieces of the Sky - Emmylou Harris [country] (1001 Albums list)
Cartwheel - Hotline TNT [indie rock] (new releases) +
Different Class - Pulp [britpop] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list) +

Murmur - R.E.M. [rock] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list) / (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
Food for Thought - Che Noir [hip hop] (2022 lists)
the book about my idle plot on a vague anxiety - toe [post-rock] (self pick) +
Natty Dread - Bob Marley & The Wailers [reggae] (1001 Albums list)
Biff - Desolation Horse [alternative] (new releases) +

the whaler - home is where [emo] (new releases)
Long Way from Home - JD Clayton [country] (new releases)
DRILL MUSIC IN ZION - Lupe Fiasco [hip hop] (2022 lists)
Havasu - Pedro the Lion [indie] (2022 lists)
Stronger Than Pride - Sade [pop] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)

Toys in the Attic - Aerosmith [rock] (1001 Albums list)
I’m Your Man - Leonard Cohen [pop] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
Queen Serene - Queen Serene [alternative] (new releases)
Crime of the Century - Supertramp [progressive rock] (1001 Albums list)
There’s No Place Like America Today - Curtis Mayfield [r&b] (1001 Albums list)

******Notes on this week:
  • Below the list:
    Ice, Death, Planets, Lungs, Mushrooms and Lava - King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard (2022 lists)

    Skipped for recency
    Another Green World - Brian Eno (1001 Albums list)
    Born to Run - Bruce Springsteen (1001 Albums list)
    That’s the Way of the World - Earth, Wind & Fire (1001 Albums list)
    At Folsom Prison - Johnny Cash (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list) ♥
    Crosby, Stills & Nash - Crosby, Stills & Nash (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list) ♥
    Ten - Pearl Jam (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Synchronicity - The Police (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list) ♥
    Damaged - Black Flag (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)

  • Let's see here - I've again got some competing goals here: to finish up the 2022 lists as quickly as possible, and to go through 2023 albums and rate them so I have some idea of what my favorites are by the end of the year. And of course continuing through my other lists. This was only a so-so week for me. But things I was surprised by are Erykah Badu, which I really enjoyed and Pulp, which I assumed I would hate but I actually found this album pretty good. I also liked the Leonard Cohen (no idea why I knew some of these songs) and the Curtis Mayfield.

  • Worst thing I put in my ear holes this week: Pedro the Lion, although Aerosmith almost bored me to death.

+ = added to my library
♥ = already in my library

Nov 28, 6:35 am

A Day in the Life of Abed Salama by Nathan Thrall

The man in the title is the father of a 5-year-old boy who was on a school bus to a field trip when it crashed on a Palestinian highway and burned. It's about the complications involved in being Palestinian and trying to get information on where your son might be, and trying to travel to find him: circuitous routes necessitated by the system of roads, ID cards with different permissions, checkpoints.

But it covers much more ground than that. Why was the boy on a 27-year-old, poorly maintained schoolbus on an undivided highway in the first place? Why did he attend the underequipped elementary school he did? Why did Palestinian emergency services have so much difficulty responding to the scene of the accident? Why did Israeli emergency services (close enough to see smoke rising) take so long to respond?

The story of the bus crash is tragic, but the overarching circumstances are unconscionable.

Nov 28, 7:33 am

>154 ursula: I hadn't realized that this was nonfiction. I'm adding it to my wishlist.

Nov 29, 3:13 am

>155 labfs39: I feel like it spools out enough into the background to give a good view of how cynically and inhumanely the system was constructed, and how it continues to build on that to further choke the Palestinians.

Nov 29, 6:50 am

>154 ursula: I’ve put it on my tbr. Thanks for the review. I listened to a sample of the audio book, and the narrator sounded a bit flat. I assume read it in print. How many stars did you rate it.

Nov 29, 9:18 am

Thanks for the review of A Day in the Life of Abed Salama (Wonder if there's a reference to A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich--both protagonists live in a prison-probably a stupid question).
I would only add that the book also filled out some recent history for me. I was vaguely aware of the Oslo Accords, and somehow thought the West Bank was preserved for the Palestinians. I was aware of the illegal Israeli settlements. But I wasn't aware how Israel had manipulated everything so that the Palestinians are in control of only isolated "islets" and can't even use the roads over the so-called Israeli portions. And I can't help but wonder if Trump got his idea for the Wall from the Israeli wall they are encircling the West Bank and all the Palestinian cities with.

Nov 29, 10:10 am

>158 arubabookwoman: I seem to heave read about Trump getting his wall idea from Israel. He was also interested in Australia’s policy that has been in place for years, whereby no non-registered boats are allowed to even land in Australia for any reason whatsoever. It has been a really effective policy from the Australian government’s point of due and since its implementation I believe no illegal boats have arrived. The Australian coastguard diverts them to neighboring countries who either send them back to country where they embarked or take them to “processing centers” on inappropriate island nations for which they are paid. The “processing stations” are virtual prisons and the result is that few of those people-trafficking boats even try as word has gotten around.

Of cours being. An island nation this is possible. People still get in by air on tourist visas which they overstay and are deported.

Getting a visa other than tourist is very difficult unless you are from the EU, the USA or Canada. Not sure about South Africa.
Refugee Behrouz Boochani wrote a book, No Friend of the Mountains about his experience in an off-shore processing center on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea. He was imprisoned there for 6 years till New Zealand took him in, where he lives happily.

Nov 30, 7:54 am

>157 kjuliff: I did read it in print, yes. If I were to assign stars I guess I'd say 4.5

>158 arubabookwoman: I'm guessing there are more parallels, but I'm a little foggy on the details of the Solzhenitsyn; I seem to recall there were some nonsensical rules and regulations enforced in the labor camp as well.

I hadn't thought about Trump and the wall; I guess I just thought walls were one of those universal ideas but you're right - he might very well have been inspired by seeing that it's possible to do something like that in plain sight.

>159 kjuliff: I find the Australian policy repugnant, as well as the UK attempts to implement the same policy.

Nov 30, 10:15 am

>160 ursula: Yes the Australia immigration policy is repugnant. Unfortunately it is supported by both major political parties. It has been effective in stopping unscrupulous people trafica traveling poor ppl across the Indian Ocean and landing in uninhabited deserts in Australia, or sinking/ killing many of the refugees. The Australian govt needs to be setting up humane means for refugees coming to Australia. But it doesn’t look like it’s happening soon.

It seems most of the world is unaware of these harsh policies and se Australia as a fun freedom loving company.

Nov 30, 11:52 am

The Stranger by Albert Camus

First line: Maman died today.

Prompted by the others re-reading this and their comments, I jumped in and read it again. I read it originally in my senior year of high school, and I liked it then, but I remember very little about how it was taught to me. I honestly don't think I have anything intelligent to say about the book.

I feel like I experienced some aspects of his detachment differently with 35 more years of living behind me. In some ways, I see the appeal of his comments about thinking that one life is as good as another, and that he was satisfied with his (he was specifically talking about his work life and having let go of youthful ambitions). Even his interactions with his neighbor reflect some things I wish I could do more easily: maintain my equanimity in conversations and interactions I don't want to have. It made his neighbor happy to sit and talk with him, and Meursault didn't care much either way. I didn't expect to come out thinking that Meursault was zen.

And I'm not sure whether I was supposed to find Meursault's actions and thoughts as carrying a philosophy to the absurd, of if I was supposed to find the rules of society absurd, but for me it was a little of both.

Anyway, I'm no philosopher so those are just my ignorant musings.

Editado: Nov 30, 3:34 pm

>162 ursula: I know what you mean. I read The Stranger while studying “French Existentialism” in the 20th century under Professor Max Charlesworh, and it made a lot of sense back then. Man’s alienation from man. Mankind having no moral compass without a belief in the divine to set out the rules. The inevitable consequences of living a life without a moral framework. The necessity of framing one’s own actions on the premise, “if all men acted like this in this situation, should this be good for a stable society? “I think therefore I am”; all individuals are responsible for their own actions.

That’s what I got out of The Stranger under the guidance of an expert in 20th century French existentialist many years ago. I am aware I am using the word “man” a lot, but it’s just somehow sounds more succinct. I mean of course men and women. I am also aware that a lot of water has flowed under the bridge of troubled waters since then.

I recommend that you, if you haven’t already, read a woman’s view of the French Existentialists. I highly recommend de Beauvoir’s She Came to Stay.

Dez 1, 2:32 am

>163 kjuliff: I remain blissfully uninterested in philosophy!

But I'll keep that in mind if I ever have a change of heart.

Editado: Dez 1, 10:42 am

And I’m blissfully interested in it. Not that I read straight philosophy books anymore, but I’m interested in the actions and justifications of characters in novels when they are involved on the surface, in morally ambiguous activities . I like a book to make a point, or many.

I just finished a novel that I disliked so much one reason being that it involved terrorism, but seemed to take no stand. Not even a nuanced one. See my review on my post - Due Preparations for the Plague here.Though other LT friends loved it. I disliked it for other reasons as well. Have you read it?

Dez 2, 3:08 am

First book of December is down, but comments on it will have to wait, I'm off to the Christmas market in Saarbrücken today.

Dez 4, 3:47 am

Weekly 5x5

channel ORANGE - Frank Ocean [r&b] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Zach Bryan - Zach Bryan [country] (2023 releases)
Physical Graffiti - Led Zeppelin [rock] (1001 Albums list)
MTV - Mo Troper [power pop] (2022 lists)
You Can’t Kill Me - 070 Shake [hip hop/r&b] (2022 lists)

Frampton Comes Alive! - Peter Frampton [rock] (1001 Albums list)
Sweet Tooth - Mom Jeans. [pop punk] (2022 lists)
A Place for Owls - A Place for Owls [emo] (2022 lists)
Emotional Creature - Beach Bunny [rock] (2022 lists)
Parallel Lines - Blondie [rock] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)

Stereo Mind Game - Daughter [indie folk] (2023 releases)
(What’s the Story) Morning Glory? - Oasis [britpop] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
I Inside the Old Year Dying - PJ Harvey [post-punk/neofolk] (2023 releases)
Let It Be - The Replacements [alternative rock] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list) / (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
All Get Out - All Get Out [indie rock] (2023 releases)

Follow the Leader - Eric B. & Rakim [hip hop] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
Grace - Jeff Buckley [alternative rock] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
Hop Up - Orlando Weeks [indie pop] (2022 lists)
MORE BLACK SUPERHEROES - Westside Boogie [hip hop] (2022 lists)
Nebraska - Bruce Springsteen [rock] (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list) / (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)

living in memory of something sweet - dreamTX [indie rock/shoegaze] (2023 releases)
After the Magic - Parannoul [shoegaze] (2023 releases)
Reign in Blood - Slayer [thrash metal] (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
Javelin - Sufjan Stevens [singer-songwriter] (2023 releases)
Life’s a Blur - Superbloom [alternative rock] (2023 releases)

******Notes on this week:
  • Below the chart:
    Born To Be with You - Dion (1001 Albums list)
    Young Americans - David Bowie (1001 Albums list)
    The Köln Concert - Keith Jarrett (1001 Albums list)
    Neu! 75 - Neu (1001 Albums list)
    Horses - Patti Smith (1001 Albums list) +
    Get In Losers, We’re Going to Eternal Damnation - Forests (2022 lists)
    Before You Go - Blxst (2022 lists) (partial album)
    Otherbody - Dazy (2023 releases) ♥
    Waiting Around - Lilts (2023 releases) ♥

    Skipped for recency:
    The Hissing of Summer Lawns - Joni Mitchell (1001 Albums list)
    Tonight’s the Night - Neil Young (1001 Albums list) ♥
    Amazing Grace - Aretha Franklin (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Rid of Me - PJ Harvey (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Pretenders - Pretenders (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    Faith - George Michael (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list)
    John Prine - John Prine (Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums list) ♥
    Dirty Mind - Prince (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
    Surfer Rosa - Pixies (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)
    Rhythm Nation 1814 - Janet Jackson (200 Best Albums of the 80s list)

  • A couple of albums appeared on two different lists in the same week for me: The Replacements Let It Be and Bruce Springsteen Nebraska. I'll let you guess which one I enjoyed more!

    Also I realized something the other day - I'm currently in 1975 on the 1001 list; once I get to the 80s I'll probably have quite a few albums I can skip since I've been doing this 80s list (closing in on the top 25 there). I'll re-listen to some, I'm sure, and there will be some that weren't on the other list, but I should still find myself in the 90s relatively quickly.

  • A relatively high proportion of 2023 albums on here this week as I try to go through and rate everything. I have them all added to my library for that reason, but I'll be deleting stuff I'm not that into at some point.

    So let's see here, what did I enjoy this week? Parallel Lines - Blondie is always fun. I'm not into Oasis but there are two songs on this album I love fiercely and I will not apologize ("Don't Look Back in Anger" and "Cast No Shadow"). I have of course listened to Patti Smith before and I felt like I didn't like it? Listening to it this time I don't know why I had that impression. Into the library it goes. This is the argument for listening to things even when I think I know how I feel about them!

    The worst thing I put in my ear holes this week: Probably Mom Jeans. I just don't know why they exist, they are the worst thing ever. If it weren't for them it would probably be Mo Troper. I don't get him at all - sometimes it feels like he accidentally writes a good and catchy song, then he has to punish everyone for it with 5 songs that make you want to rip off your ears.

  • Starting to get some candidates for my best of 2023, but it feels like there's a long way to go to any real decision and I'm quickly running out of year!

+ = added to my library
♥ = already in my library

Dez 4, 6:41 am

My Work by Olga Ravn

(I somehow didn't copy down the first line on this one and it's gone back to the library already, oops.)

I literally do not know what to say about this one except that I had lots of different reactions to it, which made sense as I realized that Ravn was inspired by The Golden Notebook, another book that I struggled in reading and forming opinions about.

The narrator is a writer, and she is working on her next book after giving birth to her first child. The chapters are titled things like "First Beginning", "Second Beginning", etc, as she tries different forms - poetry, prose, the "found notebook" of a woman called Anna, excerpts from things she reads. She's struggling with the book, and she's struggling with motherhood. But she's also struggling with how the two fit together, and what her identity is or should be (mother, partner, writer, woman) and if they're compatible in any way with each other. Her work used to be her writing; is it still? Can it be still?

Anyway, obviously this is a hard one for me to sum up. I think I'll just leave a few quotes from it here:

Yet there are days, particularly Sundays, when I feel like closing the door to his room and covering my ears. And days when I feel like taking revenge, when I want to shake and slap him to make him be quiet. We’re talking more and more about having a second child.


When Marx wrote that work should be outsourced to machines so the worker could instead write poetry in the morning, who did he imagine would change the diapers? Could the revolutionary subject, in Marx’s eyes, be anyone other than the man at the factory? Other than he who received a wage for his work? THE ANSWER IS NO, Anna wrote, suddenly infuriated.


The notion that one must sacrifice everything for the sake of art — that only in this way can it become sublime — implies that anyone who is forced to take care of others, to perform manual labor, cannot become an artist. If you have family members who are sick, children to raise, expenses to pay for work that’s unrelated to art, you cannot be an artist.

Dez 6, 3:49 am

Mild Vertigo by Mieko Kanai

First line:The reason they’d settled on that apartment with its large, open-plan kitchen and windows with sizable balconies to both the south and east sides wasn’t any particular passion for cooking on Natsumi’s part, let alone any special pride she took in her culinary abilities, but because it looked like the interiors she often saw and admired in the glossy pages of women’s magazines, and it had a kitchen island with a breakfast bar, as was now all the rage, or in vogue, or whatever you wanted to call it, which seemed like a pretty convenient feature, and above anything else, the front door of the two-bedroom apartment they’d been living in until that point, which hadn’t been a new build or anything, opened directly into the kitchen, so when you walked in you were immediately confronted by the sight of the sink and the gas stove and the fridge, and her mother, who’d never lived in either public housing or any other kind of apartment complex, would always comment that you shouldn’t open up the front door of the apartment and be right inside the kitchen, it makes the whole place feel impoverished, and honestly, if you don’t keep the sink spick and span then it’ll look even more impoverished, this became a catchphrase of hers every time she came over, and then she’d go on to say, I don’t care how cheap the mortgage payments are here, I just think an apartment with a separate kitchen would make things much easier, because as a housewife, you’re in there every day, she’d point out, darting glances at the sink and the stove, which of course weren’t kept in as pristine a state as Natsumi would ideally have liked, whereas in this new apartment with its breakfast bar, the front door didn’t open directly onto the kitchen, there was instead a proper vestibule, even if it was slightly cramped, which led to a hall, and a door with glass panels framed in white wood separating the hall from the main living space, which meant you could avoid having visitors unexpectedly catching a glimpse of your chaotically messy kitchen in its entirety, which she preferred, and in terms of the size of the apartment — the open-plan room was about twelve tatami mats large, and then there was a six-mat room with tatami flooring, a three-mat utility room off the kitchen, and two rooms, eight mats and seven mats in size, with Western-style flooring — she couldn’t help but feel it was somewhat luxuriously spacious for a family like hers, composed of herself and her husband and two children of kindergarten and elementary school age, and the kids were very excited about the children’s pool in the courtyard of the new apartment block, and even though it was really only big enough to splash around in and not to actually swim laps, they declared it soooo cool, we’ll be like rich people, they said, and although it was blindingly obvious to Natsumi that they’d get sick of the pool in no time and it would become an object of ridicule, for the moment they were over the moon, and though the eight-mat room was currently being used by her husband as his “study,” she figured that when the kids moved up to middle school they’d probably grow dissatisfied with the current arrangement, which had them sleeping in bunk beds in the seven-mat room, and they’d want their “own rooms,” and if that happened, then they could free up the “study” and move one of the kids in there, and her husband could use the utility room — which currently accommodated a washing machine, tumble dryer, and laundry basket, and then, on the opposite wall, a lightweight wall-storage unit they’d ordered online made of white-polyester-resin-coated plywood, which fit the dimensions of the room as snugly as if it’d been made to measure — as his “study” instead, at least that was what they’d discussed, but if that situation actually materialized, she had no idea where on earth they’d put the washing machine, or the tumble dryer, or the storage unit — which was used for the vacuum and the washing and cleaning products, as well as canned goods and other food supplies she’d bought in reserve, and various odds and ends in assorted shapes and sizes — and, to add to their problems, the “study” currently contained five bookshelves made of steel and plywood, a desk, a computer, and a video camera, which her husband had been using as part of a project to “create a record of the family” — a project that, whether because he’d gotten fed up with filming or because he’d never really had much in the way of a visual sensibility to begin with, he had subsequently abandoned, having shot not even ten hours of footage in total, a good portion of which had its subjects’ heads lopped from the frame — as well as a chest expander he’d used back in his student days, and something called a Super Gym DX (made in Taiwan), which promised “Real Results from Everyday Training,” offering “Training as Good as You’d Get in Any Gym, Thanks to a Hydraulic Cylinder, for Convenient Home Workouts Whenever Suits You! Cure a Lack of Exercise, Tone and Shape Up and Improve Strength,” and which he’d bought without consulting her, and though it hadn’t been all that expensive, it weighed sixty-six pounds and two ounces and was three feet and nine inches wide, five feet and three inches deep, and four feet and ten inches tall, and when she thought about all these things she felt like taking them out with the trash tomorrow and being done with it, but in any case, it wouldn’t be for another five or six years that they’d have to consider making these new arrangements, and now as she was trying to figure things out, to make calculations involving the layout of the apartment and the furniture, which should in theory have been simple, there was always some kind of slip-up involved (when she finally thought she’d solved the issue so that everything would fit, it would turn out that the door in fact opened into the room, even though logically it should have opened out, and so on), and, deciding that worrying too much about these kinds of things was ultimately detrimental, she resolved to stop obsessing over them.

So as you can see from that beginning, it's a stream of consciousness novel. Interesting how this dovetails with my last book because it's really about the idea of what a woman's work is - in this case, the endless thoughts and considerations that go into a day of a mother and housewife. Interactions with her husband where she is frustrated with him, and other interactions that show he's really the only person she can talk to at all. Fraught interactions with other mothers at her children's school and an outing with female friends show the difficulty she has in these encounters; does she have the right things, is her home acceptable, is she wearing the right thing? The catalog of items she keeps in her head (to do lists, future concerns, locations of items, things that everyone in the household needs, everyone else's tasks) illustrates the mental load/invisible labor that women carry.

It didn't entirely work for me in the way that stream of consciousness doesn't tend to work for me. I know the point is the litany, in a lot of ways, but I have trouble focusing after a pretty short amount of time. Still, I feel like it was used pretty effectively here.

Dez 7, 1:32 pm

>169 ursula: I do like stream of consciousness and this book looks fantastic. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

Dez 7, 1:43 pm

Mild Vertigo kind of reminded me of Ducks Newburyport both in them and style. (True confession: I didn't finish Ducks). But I enjoyed this when I read it.

Dez 7, 2:09 pm

>169 ursula: I think I’d like to read that one, some day.

Dez 7, 9:45 pm

>168 ursula:, >169 ursula: Both of these sounds interesting. Great comments, Ursula. I'll make a note for 2024.

Ontem, 3:16 am

>170 RidgewayGirl: You're welcome! Hope you enjoy it, I think we talked about the stream of consciousness thing some time back when I was abandoning a Clarice Lispector book.

>171 arubabookwoman: The blurb that popped up on that one sounds very much like something I would not want to read, so I can understand not finishing it. Glad to hear you enjouyed Mild Vertigo though.

>172 FlorenceArt: Some day is the perfect time to read anything! ;)

>173 BLBera: They were both very interesting and although I struggled with the reading experiences, I think they will both be in my head for a while.

Ontem, 7:09 am

>174 ursula: It certainly is :-)

I can’t find a single book of Mieko Kanai translated to French. There aren’t that many in English but I’m jealous all the same.

Ontem, 10:04 am

>167 ursula: Well for me there are two great albums this week

Slayer: Reign in Blood, thrash metal doesn't get much better than this.
Grace: Jeff Bickley, what a voice.

Ontem, 11:23 am

>175 FlorenceArt: Wow. But maybe it'll happen, this one was only translated into English this year I think.

>176 baswood: Slayer is good musically but the lyrics are just silly.

I felt like there were some strong songs on Grace, and several that I thought were pretty boring. But overall a decent listen for me.