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Showing posts from July, 2013

Books of Note

Universal Harvester by John Darnielle

Not surprisingly, like a lot of John Darnielle’s music, particularly those songs on the album The Sunset Tree (Pale Green Things springs to mind and is very much worth listening to), his writing only slowly reveals itself and its narrative direction. Not in any turgid or tedious fashion, but rather in an unhurried, gentler and more thoughtful way. Universal Harvester rolls gently along its path with only a few disconcerting and probably deliberate hiccups. It starts in Iowa in the 1990s with a young man, still living at home with his father but unable to leave because of the weight of his mother’s death, years before, in a car crash. The trauma tethers Jeremy and his father together like the gravitational pull of a dead star in a comfortable and predictable but numb orbit, but it’s never something that either of them can discuss openly.
Jeremy works at a VHS rental store, so we’re assuredly early-Worldwide Web era. His job is simple, repetitive, and keeps him and his father in entertai…

Look at the Birdie by Kurt Vonnegut

When Kurt Vonnegut died in 2007 I was bereft; having nothing new by Kurt Vonnegut to read was something that I felt unprepared to face and I didn't know what to do about it. Possessed by my habitual fanaticism (tempered only by financial constraint and - now - issues of logistics) I had already scooped up as much of his work as I could find and had only one or two left to read. This included a first edition paperback of Between Time and Timbuktu, a made-for-TV film script published in 1972 based on several of Vonnegut's shorter pieces, and another first ed. hard back of Sun Moon Star, ostensibly a re-telling of the nativity story as inspired by the simple drawings of Ivan Chermayeff. Those I had yet to read were going to have to be strictly rationed, drip fed over the course of years so as not to drain the source dry prematurely. What would happen when all was read? 

It would now seem there are more posthumous collections of previously "unpublished" work than I could …