Sunday, November 30, 2008

New review

My review of Murray Bail's The Pages is in Issue 14 of The Quarterly Conversation. I'm pleased to have contributed to an especially strong issue of this always-excellent online quarterly. Issue 14 features eleven book reviews (including TQC editor Scott Esposito on Roberto Bolano's 2666) plus essays on Gaddis, DFW, Carter Scholz, and more.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Ate tracks

This mix is for Bel. Others may also listen, here or here:

He War, Cat Power
I Found Out, John Lennon
How Could I Be Wrong, The Auteurs
Shabby Doll, Elvis Costello & the Attractions
The Magnificent Seven, The Clash
Acid Tongue, Jenny Lewis
Seven Days Is Too Long, Dexys Midnight Runners
Sad Dark Eyes, Mick Harvey
Guilt, The Long Blondes
Editions of You, Roxy Music
Sacred Songs, Daryl Hall
Aviatrix, Jack Frost
White Rabbit, Jefferson Airplane
I've Been Out Walking, Nina Nastasia & Jim White
Bigmouth Strikes Again, The Smiths

Picture of The Long Blondes' Kate Jackson used under CC courtesy of celticblade.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


I don't have one (again). Actually I haven't had one for over a fortnight now, but I've been too ashamed/drunk to mention it here. It's the usual story ie. a long and boring one. I didn't especially like the job, but I expected that. What made it unbearable was a protracted campaign of arseholeness towards me on behalf of the manager and assistant manager. They just didn't like me - honestly, how is that possible?! - and after a while I stopped trying to get them to like me, preferring instead to ignore everybody and engage in subtle and inconsequential acts of sabotage. This was a new experience for me - normally I manage to strike up at least some kind of working relationship with even the most obnoxious people. Anyway, I was already considering quitting when it became apparent that I was being subjected to the classic method of getting rid of casual staff: leaving their names off the roster. I took the hint and told them where to stick it.

So now I'm unemployed yet again. Although the constant barrage of bad economic news doesn't fill me with confidence, I do feel that I am due for a change of fortune. (That's about as glass-half-full as I get, I'm afraid.)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I'm not here, this isn't happening

Obviously I am here and this is happening. I was just testing if you were paying attention.

New 8tracks mix. Listen here or use the widget:

"Used Go-Go", Kazutoki Umezu (Ribot alert!)
"The Yesness", The Matthew Herbert Big Band
"Cuts and Lies", Acoustic Ladyland
"Moonshine", Dave Douglas
"The Movers and the Shakers", Herbert
"Montuno", Marc Ribot
"STHLM", The Vandermark 5
"When the Levee Breaks", Stanton Moore
"At Les", Innerzone Orchestra
"(Little) King Ink", Flat Earth Society (takes a while to get going, then it's epic)

Photo from here.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Come to my arms, my memish boy!

A book meme, via Laura.

What was the last book you bought?

Make that books because I had a bit of a spree on Tuesday: Bornholm Night-Ferry by Aidan Higgins, Not Fade Away by Jim Dodge, two of James Sallis's Lew Griffin books, and Burning Your Boats by Angela Carter.

Name a book you have read MORE than once:

The books I have read most (ie. probably at least a half-dozen times each) are the ones I was especially enamored with as a teenager: Dune, Catch-22, Good Omens, Use of Weapons, A Connecticut Yankee at King Arthur's Court, various Wodehouses, Vonneguts, James Ellroys, Carl Hiaasens, Michael Moorcocks, Ballards, R.L. Stevensons, etc. As an "adult" the books I keep returning to include: A High Wind In Jamaica, Lolita/Pnin/Pale Fire, Titus Groan, Lucky Jim, Martin Amis up to and including The Information, Wodehouse, Raymond Chandler, Decline and Fall, But Beautiful, and probably a dozen more that I can't think of right now.

Has a book ever fundamentally changed the way you see life? If yes, what was it?

Certain non-fiction books have been eye-opening in various ways. I'm not sure fiction could ever change the way I see life - I'm not even sure what that means - but perhaps the steady accretion of reading experience has altered my thinking in ways I can't objectively analyse.

How do you choose a book? e.g. by cover design and summary, recommendations or reviews?

It's more serendipity than anything else. As for cover design, I generally won't choose a book because it has a good cover, but I do sometimes reject a book because of a bad cover.

Do you prefer fiction or non-fiction?


What's more important in a novel - beautiful writing or a gripping plot?

I like traffic lights.

Most loved/memorable character?

Bertie Wooster/Jeeves. You can't really have one without the other.

Which book or books can be found on your nightstand at the moment?

Stone Junction by Jim Dodge.

What was the last book you read?

Crooked Little Vein by Warren Ellis. It was terrible.

Have you ever given up on a book halfway in?

Many times. I sometimes give up on books halfway through the first page.