Archives for category: Books

Hotel World (I), 2012

Hotel World (II), 2012

Hotel World (III), 2012

These shots were taken on Kingsway, London, UK.

Hotel World  is a novel by Ali Smith. It was published in 2001.

Not that long ago, I started reading Hotel World but got waylaid and didn’t go back to it. That was a mistake that will soon be corrected.

Here’s what it says on the back of the book: “Five people: four are living, three are strangers, two are sisters, one is dead. Hotel World takes us through a night in the life of five people’s very different worlds. It’s luxurious for some, but a long drop for others. Cash or credit? Ali Smith’s innovative and extraordinary new novel checks us in to the smooth, plush world of the Global. But is it really the kind of place you want to spend the rest of your life in?…Forget about room service. This is a life-affirming book about death, a death-affirming book about life.”

Here’s the first paragraph and a bit:

Woooooooo-

h0000000 what a fall what a soar what a plummet what a dash into dark into light what a plunge what a glide thud crash what a drop what a rush what a swoop what a fright what a mad hushed skirl what a smash mush mash-up broke and gashed what a heart in my mouth what an end.

What a life.

What a time.

What I felt. Then. Gone.

In our house, this book can be found: dining room, left-hand bookshelves, fourth shelf down.

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RIP Huw Lloyd Langton

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Thank as always,  John and Deanne and Terry for title shenanigans and Richard at CK Ponderings for being a super-cool collaborator.

Triangle, 2012

Square, 2012

Circle, 2012

These shots were taken in on the outskirts of the City of London, UK.

Triangle, Square, Circle  is a picture book by William Wegman. It was published in 1995.

The book comprises fourteen board pages with a photograph on each. It stars Fay Ray and her family of Weimaraners (who Wegman uses a lot in his work – the first dog was called Man Ray). The pages alternate: each verso page features a portrait of one of the dogs shot against a black background with a shaped toy building block balanced on its head; on each recto page, a more playful interpretation of the shape (triangle features a dog adrift in a yacht with its sail up, semi-circle a semi-circular tent, its window crowded with dogs).

Well, it’s a fun book, and the photographs are classic Wegmans, so if you like what he does, you’ll like this. I don’t know whether I like it or not, which is probably a good sign.

Here’s the first paragraph:

Square

In our house, this book can be found: sitting room, left-hand bookshelves, third shelf down.

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Thank as always,  John and Deanne and Terry for title shenanigans and Richard at CK Ponderings for being a super-cool collaborator.

House of Suns (I), 2012

House of Suns  is a novel by Alasdair Reynolds. It was published in 2008. Broadly speaking it’s a space opera, but… as with all his books it avoids the flat prose and clumsily drawn female characters traditionally associated with the genre. It also goes some way to conveying a yearning sense of wonder at the vast, black, inkiness of space and the planets that hang about in it.

It’s not my favourite Reynolds book, but it is a gripping, fun read. If you’re interested in a modern take on space opera, I’d recommend you start with Revelation Space (2000). If you like that, you’ll get round to House of Suns in the end.

Anyway, this is from the dust-jacket: “Six million years ago, at the dawn of the human starfaring era, Aigail Gentian split herself into a thousand clones and launched them into the galaxy, to gather more memories and wisdom than one single human being could ever accumulate in a universe bound by Einstein’s laws. Periodically the shatterlings of Gentian Line meet for a grand bacchanalian reunion, where, over the course of a thousand heady nights, they exchange memories.

Two wayward shatterlings, Campion and Purslane, are about to be decades late for Gentian Line’s thirty-second reunion. Even worse, they have fallen in love…”

And here’s the first paragraph and a bit:

I was born in a house with a million rooms, built on a small, airless world on the edge of an empire of light and commerce that the adults called the Golden Hour, for a reason I did not yet grasp.

I was a girl then, a single individual called Abigail Gentian.

During the thirty years of my childhood, I only saw a fraction of the vast, rambling, ever-changing mansion.

In our house, this book can be found: dining room, left-hand bookshelves, second shelf down.

House of Suns (II), 2012

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Thank as always,  John and Deanne and Terry for title shenanigans and Richard at CK Ponderings for being a super-cool collaborator. Our sixteenth is over at Richard’s blog – check it out!

Re-make, 2012

Re-Make, 2012

Re-make / Re-model  is a non-fiction book detailing the story of the band, Roxy Music by Michael Bracewell, which was published in 2007. It’s also the title of the first track from Roxy Music’s eponymous debut album (and famously employs cacophonous solos on guitar, sax and wonky old synthesizer (thank you, Brian Eno).

The book is a cracking good read if you’re interested in British culture – Bracewell is pretentious, flashy and brilliant, with a magpie’s eye for the important nuggets of information, the little events, the mistakes, the blips that make a story important and interesting. It’s great even if you don’t like Roxy Music – the stuff about the various colleges the band members went to is fascinating.

Anyway, this is from the dust-jacket: “Re-make / Re-model is the fascinating and largely unknown story of the individuals and circumstances that would lead over a period of almost twenty years to the formation of Roxy Music – a group in which art, fashion and music would combine to create, in the words of its inventor, Bryan Ferry, ‘above all, a state of mind’…The story which has never been told is that of the interweaving networks of friendships, influences and ideas out of which Roxy Music emerged. This would be a world in which the ideas within fine art and the avant garde would be determinedly applied to the making of mainstream popular culture; a story in which, through the recollections and insights of the participants, we travel from the austerity years of Britain in the 1950s, through the liberations and revolutions offered to a new generation by art schools and pop culture, to pursue the notion, retrospectively summarised by Brian Eno, that ‘pop music is not about making music in any traditional sense of the word. It is about creating new, imaginary worlds, and inviting people to join them.’ Phew!

And here’s the first paragraph:

First, a temple in the Greek style. The sense is one of abandonment. On a cold, steep hill of wind-toughened grass, eighteen sandstone pillars (Doric, broad to the verge of squat), blackened with age, weather and soot, support the entablatures and twin pediments – there is no roof – of a mid-Victorian copy, half sized, of the Theseum of Athens.

In our house, this book can be found: dining room, left-hand bookshelves, fifth shelf down.

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Re-Model, 2012

Re-Model, 2012

Hey! I’ve just launched a new blog! It’s a remix of this one! The first post collects all the street portraits (minus one) I’ve taken so far. You can find it here: TFIPM Remix. (There was a password, but I don’t think it worked, so now you can just visit).

Thanks to Deanne for encouraging me to do this, and for her brilliant, touching, and informative daily posts.

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Thank as always,  John and Deanne and Terry for title shenanigans and Richard at CK Ponderings for being a super-cool collaborator. Our sixteenth is over at Richard’s blog – check it out!

Riddley Walker (I), 2012

Riddley Walker (II), 2012

Riddley Walker (III), 2012

The first two shots were taken in central London and the third in Clock House, UK.

Riddley Walker  is a novel by Russell Hoban. It was published in 1980.

The book is set about two thousand years after a nuclear war in a small settlement (in what is today, Kent), which has reached a technological/ social level equivalent to the Iron Age, (without the inhabitants being able to make their own iron. Metal is salvaged). The government is in part a Theocracy, with laws and mythology built around scraps of information from the pre-war age, mixed in with Bible stories and art history. Our young hero, Riddley lives in the settlement and is just about to stumble upon a plot to resurrect an ancient weapon that could bring about the end of everything.

Well, I love Russell Hoban’s work, and Riddley Walker is probably my favourite of his books. It uses an invented dialect to describe an invented time, populated by a people struggling to come to terms with their world using an invented belief system. Apparently for some time after writing the book, Hoban had difficulty writing in modern English.

Here’s the first paragraph and a bit:

On my naming day when I come 12 I gone front spear and kilt a wyld boar he parbly ben the last wyld pig on the Dundel Downs any how there hadnt ben none for a long time befor him nor I aint looking to see none agen. He dint make the groun shake nor nothing like that when he come on to my spear he wernt all that big plus he lookit poorly. He done the reqwyrt he ternt and stood and clattert his teef and made his rush and there we wer then. Him on 1 end of the spear kicking his life out and me on the other end watching him dy. I said, ‘Your tern now my tern later.’ The other spears gone in then and he were dead and the steam coming up off him in the rain and we all yelt, ‘Offert!’

The woal thing fealt jus that littl bit stupid. Us running that boar thru that las littl scrump of woodling with the forms all roun. Cows mooing sheap baaing cocks crowing and us foraging our las boar in a thin grey girzel on the day I come a man.

In our house, this book can be found: dining room, left-hand bookshelves, second shelf down.

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Thank as always,  John and Deanne and Terry for title shenanigans and Richard at CK Ponderings for being a super-cool collaborator.

Unhalfbricking, 2012

This was taken on The Strand, London, UK.

Unhalfbricking  is the second album by Fairport Convention. It was released in 1969. The album marked a move away from American influences, (although there are a couple of Bob Dylan tunes on here) towards English folk. No, wait, come back!

I came very late to Fairport Convention (despite having heard quite a lot of them at art college – thanks Chris Hunter! I came round in the end). But this album, What We Did On Our Holidays, and Liege & Lief  are now firm favourites in TFIPM Towers. Unhalfbricking features, arguably, Sandy Denny’s finest song, Who Knows Where The Time Goes, and Genesis Hall – what an opener! And it’s got an oblique but great cover. You can read more about the album here.

My reason for using this title with this image is nothing to do with Fairport Convention, but because Unhalfbricking sounds like a slang word used by English motor enthusiasts of a certain stripe. When I was a teenager in suburban Hampshire, there was a small, but significant sub-culture that rode around in Ford Cortinas, wore their hair in mullet cuts and boogied to Status Quo, while sporting denims over leather jackets. I love and miss them. Who knows where the time goes?

In our house, this CD can be found: dining room, right-hand bookshelves, second shelf down.

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Ta John and Deanne and Terry for title shenanigans and Richard at CK Ponderings for being a super-cool collaborator. Check Richard’s blog for some great results from our recent meet-up.

Empty Space (II), 2012

Empty Space (III), 2012

Empty Space (IV), 2012

These were taken in Central London and Beckenham, UK.

Empty Space: A Haunting  is a novel by M. John Harrison. It was published in 2012. I’ve already posted about the anticipation of this book here.

I’ve finally started reading it. It’s slow going, not because of the book, which is engrossing and brilliant, but because of other stuff, mundane things, sticky situations. I’m on Chapter Eight, and gripped.

So far, the book is divided between three narrative strands – one set on Earth in the near-future, and two set in the city of Saudade, which is light years away. One of these strands is from the point of view of a not entirely above-board shipper and the other from an investigator of irregularities. I couldn’t possibly hope to summarise the book at this stage, so instead here’s the second paragraph from Chapter Three:

Whether you believed these claims or not, one thing was certain: Antoyne was no longer the loser you used to see beached-up in Saudade City, narratising his bad luck, drinking Black Heart Rum, reduced to making small points at the very edge of the game as errand boy for cheap crooks like Vic Serotonin or Pauli DeRaad. He owned his own ship. He had an eye for a transaction. He wasn’t even fat anymore.

The photographs are not representative of the text in any way except that they kind of felt right – maybe something of the atmosphere…anyway, there will be more (and a fuller review of the book when I’ve finished it).

In our house, this book can be found: bedroom in a pile of stuff on the chest of drawers.

M John Harrison has his own blog here.

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Thank as always,  John and Deanne and Terry for title shenanigans and Richard at CK Ponderings for being a super-cool collaborator.

The Drift, 2012

This was taken in Beckenham, UK.

The Drift  is Scott Walker’s thirteenth studio album (his first release in eleven years!). It was released in 2006.

The album followed 1995’s Tilt (Scott’s masterpiece), and takes that album’s darkness for a trip to Dark Town. The Drift is unrelenting, disturbing, experimental and oddly emotional. There are songs about disease, Elvis Presley’s dead brother, the execution of Mussolini’s mistress, and 9/11. There’s nothing flippant or obvious about the way Scott deals with these subjects and the music reflects the emotional complexity of the lyrics.

Late period Scott’s another of those artists you either love or hate – it’s impossible to be indifferent to this music.

In our house, this CD can be found: dining room, second shelf-down, right-hand bookshelves.

Here’s Clara from The Drift.

And here’s Farmer In The City – my all-time favourite Scott song.

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Thanks to John and Deanne and Terry for title shenanigans and Richard at CK Ponderings for being a super-cool collaborator. Our last collaboration is but one post back.

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If you’re in London anytime up to the 2nd December, I strongly recommend you visit Simon Martin’s exhibition, UR Feeling, at Camden Arts Centre. Why has he brought together a fascinating selection of architectural, art and design objects for your consideration including work by himself, Ettore Sottsass, and Richard Artschwager?

20 Fragments Of A Ravenous Youth, 2012

This was taken on Beckenham High Street, UK.

20 Fragments Of A Ravenous Youth  is a novel by Xiaolu Guo. It was published in 2008. In the original Chinese version, the book contained no punctuation and no divisions between sections.

On the back cover it says this (and I have no reason to disbelieve, because I haven’t read the book. Nikki says it’s great.): “Life as a film extra in Beijing might seem hard, but Fenfang won’t be defeated. She has travelled 1800 miles to seek her fortune in the city, and has no desire to return to the never-ending sweet potato fields back home. Determined to live a modern life, Fenfang works as a cleaner in the Young Pioneer’s movie theatre, falls in love with unsuitable men and keeps her kitchen cupboard stocked with UFO noodles. As Fenfang might say, ‘Heavenly Bastard in the Sky, isn’t it about time I got my lucky break?’

There’s a really interesting entry about Xiaolu Guo on Wikipedia. To summarise, she’s had nine books published since 1999, been the director or producer on nine films (including  How Is Your Fish Today? and Concrete Revolution) since 2003, and written two screenplays. I’m going to start reading her books.

Here’s the first paragraph and a bit:

My youth began when I was 21. At least, that’s when I decided it began. That was when I started to think that all those shiny things in life – some of them might possibly be for me.

If you think 21 sounds a bit late for youth to start, just think about the average dumb Chinese peasant, who leaps straight from childhood to middle age with nothing in between. If I was going to miss anything out, it was middle age. Be young or die. That was my plan.

In our house, this book can be found: dining room, left-hand bookshelves, fourth shelf down.

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Thank as always,  John and Deanne and Terry for title shenanigans and Richard at CK Ponderings for being a super-cool collaborator. The next is on Sunday.

Blemish (I), 2012

Blemish (II), 2012

Blemish (III), 2012

These were taken in Beckenham, UK.

Blemish  is David Sylvian’s sixth solo album. It was released in 2003.

It’s a pretty solo affair – the avant-garde improvisational guitarist, Derek Bailey (RIP) appears on a couple of tracks and Christian Fennesz does his fizzing,  popping, exploding thing on another, but it’s mainly David Sylvian (on his own in a very small cabin up a mountain – that’s how I see him). The album is sparse, electronic, spacious and employs Sylvian’s mournful croon and bruised lyrics to great effect.

David Sylvian’s career is often compared to Scott Walker’s and if you were to join in, this would be David’s Tilt (my favourite Scott album). But he’s not Scott Walker and Blemish is a wholly unique experience – harsh, brittle, bright and beautiful. As evidence, and thanks to the piratical machinations of the internet, I offer you the title track (but beware it’s over 13 minutes long). If that’s a bit too much, here’s Fire In The Forest (much shorter).

In our house, this CD can be found: dining room, right-hand bookshelves, second shelf down.

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Thank as always,  John and Deanne and Terry for title shenanigans and Richard at CK Ponderings for being a super-cool collaborator. Our latest is due this Sunday.