I don’t have much exposure to Lambchop. I know of them mostly as a slow, country-type band. And that’s why I haven’t listened to them much. So I picked one song from their latest album, Mr. M, to talk about (because they are associated with Five Dials, see below).
And, indeed, they are slow. I wouldn’t say country so much as roots, maybe, traditional folk or something. It’s certainly slow. This song reminds me in someways of Tindersticks, although a very stripped down Tindertsicks. Of course, what I like about Tindertsicks is that they are not stripped down. So this song kind of leaves me a little flat. I like it, but I’ve already got music that’s like this ti listen to.
I’ll bet though, that it would make great background music to an engaging story (see below). I wonder what song they chose to remix. It’s be crazy if I picked it.
[READ: May 3, 2012] Five Dials 23
Five Dials 23 was recently released with quite little fanfare. That may be because it is like an appetizer for the soon to be released Issue 24 which promises to be very large.
Five Dials 23 contains only one piece (and an Letter from the Editor). The piece is by Javier Marías, whom I’ve read and enjoyed and have put on my list of authors to explore more.
CRAIG TAYLOR-”On That Fiction Feeling and Lambchop”
Craig Taylor’s introduction wonderfully encapsulates why I prefer to read fiction to non-fiction. I have friends who say they only like to read non-fiction because at least they’re learning something (or some variant of that). And while it’s compelling to argue that you learn stuff from fiction too, it’s not always easy to prove. So Taylor’s Letter from the Editor is where I can point people in the future:
I remember it happened when I read part of Runaway by Alice Munro, specifically the three linked short stories ‘Chance’, ‘Soon’ and ‘Silence’. I remember the names of the North London streets I was compelled to walk – from Messina Avenue to Woodchurch Road to Greencroft Gardens – just to free myself from the sensation that had blossomed within me after I set down the book. During that walk, the neighbourhood seemed raw and responsive. I was unsettled, but in the best possible way; I was in the midst of experiencing the kind of sadness that can only be induced by fiction, which is more potent sadness than most. Also in this jumble of sensation brought on by Munro was a vow to live better, to somehow dodge the mistakes of her characters. There was a bit of a ‘what the hell am I doing with my life?’; a bit of a ‘pay attention to the details’; a bit of an ‘appreciate life more’. In short, the great inner churning that comes at the end of a few extraordinary pieces of fiction.
The details aren’t relevant, it’s the overall mood and idea that he conjures that is. Although he mentioned Munro, he begins to talk about The Leopard by Tomasi di Lampedusa. How this debut (and only) novel has left a strong impact not only on him and many more who have read it but also on Marías. And that that it was Marías’ essay is about: The Leopard.
The second half of his introduction talks about the next issue and that a 10″ vinyl album will be released with it. It will feature a double A side with author Hollis Hampton-Jones reading from her novel Comes the Night, while backed by Lambchop. The other side features a remix of a song by Lambchop from their Mr. M album. The end of the Letter from the Editot is given over to Hampton-Jones and her remembrance of the recording session. (It’s very cool).
EMILY ROBERTSON and TUCKER NICHOLS drew the cool pictures of leopards.
JAVIER MARÍAS-”Hating The Leopard“
This essay, translated by Margaret Jull Costa,talks about the novel The Leopard and how as a novelist, Marías hates it, even though as a reader, he loves it.
I love the surprising way he opens this: There is no such thing as the indispensable author or novel.” Because even if the best novelist in the world never wrote, the world woul dnot be different. I also love this insight, which I actually used recently when talking about Ulysses to someone (yes, I’m that guy) that books which “aspired to being ‘modern’ or ‘original’… leads inevitably to an early senescence or, as others might say, they become ‘dated.’ …. They can sometimes seem slightly old-fashioned or, if you prefer, dated, precisely because they were so innovative, bold, confident, original and ambitious.” But he quickly points out that The Leopard does not fall into this dated category.
Before explaining why The Leopard has stayed with him, he gives some basic background about its publication and near lack of publication. Indeed, Tomasi di Lampedusa (how do you say that last name?) died before it was published (but not before receiving several rejection letters). What’s especially surprising is why he wrote the novel in the first place: “the relative late success of his cousin, the poet Lucio Piccolo…led Lampedusa to make the following comment in a letter: ‘Being absolutely certain that I was no more of a fool than he, I sat down at my desk and wrote a novel.’” Nothing inspires like jealousy! He also wrote because he was a solitary person. He was married, but he seems to spend a lot of time alone. He wanted the book published but not at the expense of his heirs (that’s nice).
Marías talks a bit about why he finds the book so extraordinary (although he says that so much has been written about the novel that he is reluctant to add more). But one thing that impressed upon him was how the book is about preparing for death, but how, “Death stalks the book not in any insistent way, but tenuously, respectfully, modestly, almost as part of life and not necessarily the most important part either.” As far as hating the book, Marías feels that perhaps some novelists have earned the right to hate it.
I always enjoy Five Dials. I can only hope that my posting about it here can get more people to check it out. Now to see why my library doesn’t have a copy of The Leopard.
For ease of searching I include: Javier Marias.