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Showing posts from September, 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…

Tales From Two Pockets by Karel Čapek

Here is a quick but predictable disclaimer before we begin – this is another book which guilt has led me to select to read over other more contemporary and “exciting” works, more recently purchased or enthused over. In addition, it wasn’t even the first Čapek book I picked up due to this niggling neglectfulness*. How does this fit with the coincidence-guided intertextual flow of text selection premise, the “cause and effect” effect? you might ask.

Shut up! I might say.
Equally predictably, next comes the contextual bit, where you get to see how well researched these reviews are and I get to feel smug that I actually cribbed it all from one online encyclopaedia or other. Čapek is a Czech writer of immense talent, one of two equally gifted brothers, writing in whatever country the Czech Republic used to be between 1900 and 1938 (Bohemia? Czechoslovakia?). Luckily for him, as a resident of the Nazi-annexed Sudetenland, he died of pneumonia before the naughty Gestapo, who I understand might…