Archives for posts with tag: Books

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.

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.

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.

The Hundred and Ninety-Nine Steps, 2012

This was taken in Clock House, UK.

The Hundred and Ninety-Nine Steps  is the second published novel by Michel Faber. It was published in 2001.

Once I’d got a taste for Michel Faber’s fiction, I couldn’t get enough of it (until I got to The Crimson Petal and the White, which sits, heavy, cumbersome (too big to read in bed), and ignored on the shelf, but that’s not another story). So, when I saw this in Beckenham Books, I snapped it up. It’s an enjoyable read, but not as gripping as some of his other books.

From the inside front cover: “Tired of nightmares in which she meets a grisly end, Sian decides she needs to get out more, so she joins an archaeological dig at Whitby Abbey. What she finds is a mystery involving a long-hidden murder, a man with big hands and a fragile manuscript in a bottle.”

Here’s the first paragraph and a bit:

The hand caressing her cheek was gentle but disquietingly large – as big as her whole head, it seemed. She sensed that if she dared open her lips to cry out, the hand would cease stroking her face and clasp its massive fingers over her mouth.

‘Just let it happen,’ his voice murmured, hot, in her ear. ‘It’s going to happen anyway. There’s no point resisting.’

In our house, this book can be found: dining room, right-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. Check Richard’s blog for our latest!

The Entropy Tango, 2012

This was taken on Kingsway, London, UK.

The Entropy Tango  is a novel or a collection of five novellas by Michael Moorcock. It was published in 1981.

There’s a slight link to the post before last here. The Entropy Tango is one of four books that expanded on the world(s) of Jerry Cornelius – another that was published the year before was The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle, in which the Sex Pistols appeared as themselves and characters from the Cornelius novels.

Any road up, The Entropy Tango was originally planned as an LP-sized book with colour illustrations and an LP of the songs, which introduce each novella. But the money wasn’t available, so it became a paperback with B&W illustrations. The novel is told in a series of short sections which may not necessarily relate to the previous section, or indeed any other story. It’s another chaotic whirl of a book – stomping through history to make its points (and like catnip to the likes of me who love this stuff). I won’t try to summarize the plot.

Here’s the first paragraph and a bit:

“I still breed and buy a little, but I rarely, these days, kill.” Balancing a pink gin in his thin hand Major Nye settled into the light-blue plush and pulled a photograph from his top pocket. Behind him was a wide observation window. He turned to glance through the clouds at what could be Transcarpathia below. There were only four passengers in the airship’s lounge and two of them spoke no language known to him, so he was anxious to keep Mrs Persson nearby. As she approached, he said: “What do you make of this couple?”

It was too hot. Una Persson regretted her Aran turtleneck, and she tugged a little at the top so that her pearls clicked.

In our house, this book can be found: dining room, left-hand bookshelves, first 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. Check Richard’s blog for our latest!

England’s Dreaming, 2012

This was taken near Covent Garden, London, UK.

England’s Dreaming  is a history of the Sex Pistols and punk by Jon Savage. It was published in 1991.

I bought this book when it came out and read it cover to cover. At the time I wasn’t a big Pistols fan (and I still prefer The Damned if I’m honest)*, but I was fascinated by the way Punk blossomed and died within a year, leaving a huge legacy (and a lot of people hanging around precincts accusing each other of selling out). Jon Savage writes in a really engaging and authoritative way and weaves a great narrative while maintaining nitty gritty detail. It made me revisit the Pistols, so I guess it did its job.

Here’s the first paragraph:

It is the early seventies. All the participants of what will be called Punk are alive, but few of them know each other. They will come together in 1976 and 1977 in a network of relationships as complicated as the rabbit-warren London slums of Dickens’ novels. The other beginnings of Punk – the musical texts, vanguard manifestos, pulp fictions – already exist, but first we need the location, the vacant space where, like the buddleia on the still plentiful bombsites, these flowers can bloom.

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

* and The Fall, of course, but Mark E. Smith denies they were ever punk. And PiL, who came after the Sex Pistols.

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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. Check Richard’s blog for our latest!

The Lowlife, 2012

This was taken somewhere near the north bank of the Thames, London, UK.

The Lowlife  is a novel by Alexander Baron. It was published in 1963.

This is the only book I’ve read by Alexander Baron – I don’t know why, because it’s brilliant. He wrote several novels, including From The City, From The Plough (1948), and screenplays for film and TV.

From the back of my copy (published in 2001 by Harvill, which was a really interesting independent company – they also published Georges Perec in translation. I applied for a job with them only to be told by the company director and one of the two employees that they’d just been bought out by a big publisher – I can’t remember which, so they weren’t hiring. A real shame.):

East London: home of dog-tracks and boarding houses, winners and losers – mostly losers. Harryboy is lowlife, scum. But if he leaves the track after the thirteenth race quids in, everyone’ll say, there goes Harryboy Boas, King of the Track.

Trouble starts for Harryboy when a new family move into his boarding house and he quickly becomes involved with them; he soon finds himself a hero to the family, but particularly their child, Gregory. As the debts from his addictions grow, Harryboy sinks deeper into London’s criminal underworld, where violence and revenge are the inevitable consequences for those who can’t pay up, and he drags the family with him.

Here’s the first paragraph and a bit:

One day, when I have got a few hundred pounds together, I will take a boat to the Canaries. I’ll look around, and settle in on one of the smaller islands; somewhere out of the way. On four pounds a week, they tell me, you can live like a lord. A thousand would keep me for over four years.

Four years. A lifetime nowadays. We should have such luck.

I will read and swim, loaf about. No-one will interfere, no-one will judge me. If they drop that big cookie I can always go down to the beach and swim out into the warm sea till I can’t swim any more.

Perfect.

All I need is a few hundred pounds.

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

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Thank you, once again,  John and Deanne for making me tinker with titles. Extra thanks to Deanne for  tag ideas etc. And to Terry for sending me in the direction of the shelves in search of ideas, and of course, as always, to Richard at CK Ponderings for being a super-cool collaborator.

Empty Space (I), 2012

This was taken somewhere in Central London, UK.

Empty Space: A Haunting  is a novel by M. John Harrison. It was published in 2012.

I haven’t read Empty Space yet – it’s sitting on the chest of drawers in the bedroom until I can find the time to concentrate on it. I’ve been excited about reading it for some time, and even managed the first couple of chapters.

Empty Space is the final book in a trilogy (I’ve talked about the first book, Light (2002), in another post; the second book is called Nova Swing (2006)), so I’m hoping some strands of narrative might resolve themselves (or seriously not).

Any road up, this photograph is the first in an occasional series I’m going to post around the reading of the book. It has very little to do with the content of the book, because I know very little about the content of the book. Hopefully, future posts will remedy this appalling state of affairs.

Here’s the first paragraph:

Anna Waterman heard two cats fighting all evening. At ten o’clock she went out into the garden and called in the family tom. A decade or so ago, her daughter Marnie, age thirteen and already unfathomable, had named this animal ‘James’. Late summer displayed a greenish afterglow at the bottom of a sky full of stars. Anna’s was a long garden, perhaps fifty yards by twenty, with lichenous apple trees in unmown grass and a leaning summerhouse which looked like something from a 1970s Russian film – falling apart, surrounded by overgrown flowerbeds, filled with those things you discard, but don’t throw away. The flowerbeds had an unhealthy vitality. Every year, tended or not, they produced dense mixtures of indigenous weeds, wild flowers and – since the warming of the mid-2000s – exotics with large petals and fleshy leaves, blown in as seeds from who knows where.

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 you, once again,  John and Deanne for making me tinker with titles. Extra thanks to Deanne for the location tag idea. And to Terry for sending me in the direction of the shelves in search of ideas, and of course, as always, to Richard at CK Ponderings for being a super-cool collaborator.

Sombrero Fallout, 2012

This was taken off Drury Lane, London, UK.

Sombrero Fallout  is a novel by Richard Brautigan. It was published in 1976.

Richard Brautigan was another obsession of mine for a while. His books are experimental in a really relaxed way – they are often quite surreal and comical, but with moments of startling lucidity and social and political clout.

Whatever, Richard, whatever. Here be the blurb from the back of my copy (Rebel Inc. again): …As [a writer] searches through his apartment for strands of his lost love’s hair, the discarded story in the wastepaper basket – through some kind of elaborate origami – carries on without him.

Here’s the first paragraph:

‘A sombrero fell out of the sky and landed on the Main Street of town in front of the mayor, his cousin and a person out of work. The day was scrubbed clean by the desert air. The sky was blue. It was the blue of human eyes, waiting for something to happen. There was no reason for a sombrero to fall out of the sky. No airplane or helicopter was passing overhead and it was not a religious holiday.’

I really enjoyed typing that.

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

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As always, thanks to John and Deanne and Terry, and of course Richard at CK Ponderings. One day soon I will write a short piece on why I’m titling my posts and photographs after things on the shelves in our house.