SOUNDTRACK: THE WEAKERTHANS-Reunion Tour (2007).
I have talked about some previous Weakerthans albums, and this is their newest. I also think it’s their best. The sequencing of it is really fantastic. It has some catchy poppy songs followed by some of the quieter, more unusual tracks [“Elegy for Gump Worsley”, a very spare tribute using plucked banjo and little else, followed by “Sun in an Empty Room” a song that gets more catchy with each listen.] It also has a fantastic “single” in “Civil Twilight,” as well as what is without a doubt the best song ever to use curling as a metaphor for a relationship: “Tournament of Hearts.” Everything about “Tournament” is great. It’s catchy and fun, with all kinds of curling going on. And, maybe some folks will look up what a bonspeil is and get interested in the great sport. We also continue the saga of Virtue the Cat from the last album.
Samson continues to write beautiful songs. They all seem so simple and effortless. It lulls you into either singing along or really listening to the lyrics. His lyrics are consistently above average too. He talks about “diabetic moons.” For sheer originality I enjoy the line ” So praise the things I can’t forget…with burgers and a silhouette” for rhyming silhouette, not cigarette (the obvious choice). And how many rock songs start with a line like this: “It had something to do with the rain leeching loamy dirt.”
I’m really quite delighted with this record, and although they seem to wait 4 years to put them out, I’ll be ready for the next one in 2011.
[READ: June 30, 2008] “Deep-Holes”
I have yet to read Munro’s Runaway, but I have now read maybe five of her short stories, and I consistently like them. Runaway is on my bedside, and I’ll get to it eventually. In the meantime, I guess I just have to keep looking in magazines and I’ll have more from her.
I hesitate to say there is something particularly Munro-like about her work, having read only a few stories, but I feel like I know what I’m to expect when I start one: a laid back pace, beautiful detail, and, it seems, a great sadness that looms over the characters.
In this case the sadness is brought on by the “deep holes” of the title. Sally and Alex go on a picnic to celebrate the publication of Alex’s first solo geology paper. They go to a site that figures largely in the work, a site with a caution sign warning of “deep-holes” The deep holes turn out to be, in fact, very large, very deep holes, which, predictably, one of their two boys falls into. Kent, the unlucky boy, is hurt quite badly, but is saved by his father. He and his father had a somewhat contentious relationship before, and this confuses things even more. All of this happens in the first two pages, and there is quite a lot left, so don’t feel that I gave anything away.
The remainder of the story concerns what happens to Kent after the accident. He distances himself from the family, corresponding only occasionally. At the time of the accident, Kent had a baby sister. As she gets older, she wants to learn more about the brother she never knew. She is the one who finally uncovers his whereabouts and tells her mom. When Sally finally encounters him again, the conflict inevitably turns personal. Munro really gets into the mind and spirit of her characters. And, you can really see Sally grow older emotionally over the course of this short story.
Munro continues to impress me with her quiet, beautifully composed stories.