I’m still really enjoying Kishi Bashi’s debut album 151a, so it’s a treat to get a new track from him. This one is a 7″ (and apparent digital download).
It doesn’t depart radically from Kishi Bashi’s formula (high vocals, violins and bouncy, exuberant melodies). Although this song just has…more. More instruments, more layers, more everything.
The biggest surprise comes around two minutes in when some of the layers drop out and we get this really cool bass (which reminds me of Paul Simon) that propels the song along. But that’s a fleeting moment amidst the swirling and swelling violins.
Kishi Bashi is one of those artists who seems to release a lot of singles and digital releases and unless they get compiled somewhere, NPR podcasts are the only place I’ll ever hear them. Nonetheless, I’m delighted to get to jam to this one.
[READ: August 19, 2013] The Snapper
When I first got into Roddy Doyle (around 1993), I read all three of the books that are considered the “Barrytown Trilogy” (which I have just learned, thanks Louise, that there’s going to be a fourth) very quickly. Doyle’s writing in these books is very fast and very funny–tons of dialogue that flow easily and wittily.
The Snapper was also made into a film (not as popular as The Commitments, but much funnier–check it out just to see Colm Meaney down a pint). And Doyle’s writing is just as sharp and screenplay-friendly as The Commitments was–which makes it a real joy to read.
Although this is considered part of a “trilogy” there’s very little connection to The Commitments. The family is the same but Jimmy Rabbitte, the protagonist of The Commitments, is a minor character in The Snapper (I’m actually not sure if it is set before or after The Commitments). [Oh and in the movie, the family name had to be changed from Rabbitte to Curley because the company that made The Commitments owns the rights to Rabbitte (Jaysus!)]. This book is about Jimmy’s sister Sharon and, for the most part, their da, Jimmy Sr. [There's a slew more members of that family--Veronica their mammy, Darren, the twins Tracy and Linda, Les, and of course, Larrygogan, the new pup.
So, what the hell is The Snapper about? Well, "Snapper" is a slang for baby (apparently). And it seems that young Sharon (19) has gotten herself "up the pole" (pregnant). The surprising thing about the story is the family's reaction. It is largely positive. She won't say who the father is, and after the family accepts that, things seem largely fine.
Sharon is afraid to tell her friends, but even they, including her best friend Jackie, take it well (especially after a few drinks). So where is the conflict?
The conflict comes when the father reveals himself. She knows who it is. I don't recall there being hints as to his identity so early in the book, but they are there. But the father isn't a huge mystery for the story--indeed, it is quickly revealed who it is (and how it happened). Nevertheless, Sharon would sooner die than let out who the father is--for many reasons. So when the guy starts feeling guilty and reveals himself to all and sundry, it makes the Rabbitte family's life hell. I mean, how are they supposed to go to the pub with everyone looking at them like that?
Speaking of drinking and the pub, the primary setting of the book is the pub--both Sharona and her da go to the same one, but in different parts. Jimmy Sr. has his mates at the pub (and they are a rowdy, funny bunch) and then Sharon has her mates (cheeky older teenage girls) who cause their own brand of ruckus. And, yes, Sharon drinks like a fish all the way through her pregnancy. I don't know if I was conscious of that when I read it back then, but having now been present for two pregnancies and hearing all of the talk about what a woman MUST NOT DO, I found this story shocking (but fairly liberating). [When we were in Europe while Sarah was pregnant the women there all told her to have a glass of wine with dinner--it was totally fine--I wonder why cultures view things so differently.] Anyhow, Sharon is getting rip-roaring drunk quite often during her pregnancy–which is rather disconcerting, regardless of what I may have said. Do Irish women still drink like that while pregnant (this will tell me if they read this post).
The crux of the book is Sharon’s relationship with Jimmy Sr. They have a very good one until he feels she has lied to him. And then it suddenly becomes frosty. But after some clever behavior on both their parts, Jimmy comes around and becomes her biggest supporter (reading Everywoman and any other book he can find about pregnancy). The scenes where he asks her about her pregnancy are hilarious.
So the overall conflict is minimal, but the story is a real joy, and with Doyle’s flowing style, the last fifty pages just fly by. It’s a great lark, this. And if you’re not up for reading 218 pages, check out the movie, it’s really good, too.