Woven Hand is yet another band that I hadn’t heard of until this Tiny Desk concert (and I thought I knew a lot of bands). They are a band, but for this Tiny Desk Concert David Eugene Edwards plays solo. He has a cool baritone voice that has a nice ponderous quality. This suits his chosen instrument–a mandolin-banjo hybrid made in 1887 by the Pullman Train Company (!)–perfectly. Turns out that Edwards was the voice behind 16 Horsepower, so that explains some of the sound he’s going for.
The opener “Whistling Girl” and the closer “Kingdom of Ice” (which is practically a mini-epic) are beautiful slices of Americana made slightly more esoteric by the instrumentation and his voice. I like them a lot. The middle song he plays is a Bob Dylan song “As I Went Out One Morning.” I know that I’m not a big Dylan fan, but I just can’t get over how many songs he has written that people cover. I’d never heard this one, which with this instrumentation takes on a kind of fairy tale quality (which I assume the original doesn’t).
This makes me want to bust out my 16 Horsepower CD and to check out more from Woven Hand. I enjoyed his solo performance so much I can’t imagine what a full band version would sound like.
[READ: January 7, 2014] “The Breeze”
I have really enjoyed Joshua Ferris’ work, so I was excited to read this. But I was ultimately disappointed by this story.
The construction is interesting, so of. It looks at multiple possible outcomes of a situation. But I felt like even that was done a little too vaguely to be really effective.
It also features one of my most hated scenarios in real life and one which I guess I have no patience for in fiction. It concerns a person who is bored, existentially bored. So when she wants to do something, she proceeds to ask her partner what he wants to do. Thus, Sarah asks her husband to come home from work early. She is sitting on the balcony of their apartment enjoying a perfect spring breeze. When he gets home, she is excited to have a wonderful excursion with him. So she asks him “What do you want to do?” And naturally he hasn’t thought of this at all, so he has no opinion. But this makes her mad. She asks if he doesn’t want to do anything. He says he does. And then she asks him what. I don’t know if this is a gender-specific scenario, but I have been in it many times in many different relationships and I know my parents went through it as well—my mother always complained about my father’s lack of wanting to do things and he would always say all she had to do was say what she wanted to do and he would do it. So, I guess Ferris has tapped into something, but I hated reading about it.
I was also annoyed that the couple was a seemingly privileged couple from Brooklyn. Man, everything rubbed me the wrong way, perhaps I should have put it down. But I will admit that Ferris’ style made me want to keep reading it.
Right, so Sarah is convinced that something better is going on around her. [DIGRESSION: Of course, this is all relative, right? Everyone thinks that being in Times Square for New Year's Eve is the best thing in the world. Until you do it and you realize it sucks. When you’re bored, everyone in the world is doing better things than you, even though really, no one is doing anything more exciting than you. If people would just accept that their lives are interesting, they would be much better off. Of course, I also maintain that if you have a hard time deciding what to do with yourself you have no business living in New York City and you should move where there are fewer options].
So it goes back and forth with him getting exasperated and her getting exasperated. And when he finally does decide to do something (go to the movies) she doesn’t want to.
Anyhow, she decides that they should have a picnic. They buy sandwiches, go to Central Park and then have quick sex in the woods.
Or they go to a beer garden.
Or they get stuck on a subway.
Or they call friends and go to a bar.
Or they go to bar without friends.
Or she is to shy to ask for sex in the Park.
Or he can’t get it up when they tried to have sex in the Park.
Or they go to an Italian restaurant (which he resents).
They break up.
Or they decide to have children
I appreciated the conceit behind every paragraph opening up a possibility, but the possibilities were so limited and/or similar. And if a shag in the Park is your best idea for staving off existential boredom then I feel your imagination is limited. It was all just very frustrating.
Interestingly, just about everything I disliked about the story, Karen really liked. Maybe if I’d been feeling more existentially adrift I would have enjoyed this more.
But don’t worry I still really like Joshua Ferris.