I used to keep a list of songs and albums that I would try to find. On this list was a single or a B-Side by Serena Maneesh. I’ve lost the list, but someone just donated their debut album to our library. So I’m excited to check it out. In the meantime, I found the video for this track so I’ll start there.
For years people waited for the follow up to My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless. And if David Shields ever does release a disc under that name again, it will be more scrutinized than Chinese Democracy (and possibly less inspired).
So, why not let someone else take up the reigns of shoegazing music some fifteen years later.
This track displays many traits that made MBV so great. It opens with a slightly distorted female vocalist. She starts singing before a throbbing bass and noisy, distorted (seemingly backwards) guitars bring in a wall of noise. But that wall only lasts for a short time before it breaks away and the song builds again, slowly, with more and more parts (the video shows a violin although I can’t hear it).
And then about half way through the song it does what MBV always made me do, pick up my head and go, yes, this is great. A mildly distorted amazingly catchy bridge peeks out through the noise and grabs on to you. Then more noise and a little backwards vocals and its over.
Other reviews of the album suggest that this isn’t the only kind of music they play, that they are also heavier and darker; I’m looking forward to the rest of the disc. First impressions (five years late) are very good here. Check it out here.
[READ: June 25, 2010] A Reader’s Guide
Despite my fondness for Infinite Jest, I had not read any of the supplementary books about it. I’d heard of them, of course, but I didn’t feel compelled to get any of them. Then I saw that this one was very cheap. And I decided to get Elegant Complexity while I was at it (a few cents to the Fantods). Complexity is a big honking book, and I don’t have time for it right now, but this reader’s guide is very short and a very quick read.
I had an idea of what to expect from the book, but I didn’t really know who the intended audience was. So, I was very surprised to see the way it was set up. The first chapter is a biographical account of DFW including his place in the new writers anti-ironic camp. It was a good summary but nothing new, and I worried about what I had just bought.
The second chapter is called “The Novel,” and it attempts to summarize IJ in some 30 pages. That’s not entirely fair, as it’s not really a summary as an explication of some key points in the book. He begins by looking at the Eschaton match (and its key distinction between the map and the territory). There’s some nice flattening out of the complexity there.
He then moves to the “time” of the novel. What’s weird is how much time he devotes to talking about people who don’t (or didn’t) know when the book was set. Not to be too obvious (because I missed it for quite some time), but anyone writing a book about the book should know the exact year that the book takes place. I mean the one year is called the Year of the Yushityu 2007…. Which is pretty clear (although there are many other indicators as well). But Burn thankfully sets us in place (by of all means, tying the footnoted language riots to the language riots of Don DeLillo’s Ratner’s Star).
One interesting thing that I had never even considered is that Burn concludes there are 90 sections in the book (and then he moves into the significance of the number 90 both for DFW and IJ).
But numerology aside, he then gives some major plot points, focusing on Hal and Gately and the IJ tape. I like that he follows the thread of Gately to his involvement with the tapes (to Sixties Bob), and that he condenses that timeline into a tidy paragraph.
And then he addresses the important question of what happened to Hal. He concludes that the connection is between the DMZ and the mold from the earlier chapters. Although couched with caution, he makes some pretty bold assertions about Hal and the DMZ, and mentions a Moment magazine article about DMZ that I don’t recall at all. Of course looking it up I now see that it’s because Pemulis was reading the article from the magazine when he’s trying to convince Hal to do it.
But Burn believes the evidence points to Hal getting caught by the AFR and possibly being shown the film (with Wayne, watching too). But I’m not sure buy this line of reasoning.
There’s some stuff about Hamlet, and then yet another outside piece of information that I didn’t know: November 8, Gaudeamus Igitur is the anniversary of the day that Roentgen first discovered an x ray machine and used it on himself.
After a few more looks into specifics of the book, he returns to a numerology of sorts by looking at significant dates in the book.
The amount of things (and people) that are not mentioned is astonishing, but what do you expect with so few pages allotted.
The next chapter deals with the critical reaction and contains some super juicy gossip: DFW actually knew a woman name Kate Gompert, who sued because of the unflattering association with her name in the book. (The case was thrown out).
The final chapter concerns works about IJ and is followed by a bibliography and, strangely, Discussion Questions.
Perhaps the most useful thing is the timeline at the back of the book. When reading it I realized that my own self-created one was incorrect (I had never done the math to accurately get James’ death year correct…shame).
And that’s your 90-some page look at IJ. Aside from those few tidbits, there’s nothing terribly original in the book, and yet its succinctness is its best feature, as Burn is able to select a couple of salient moments and go into great details about them.
As I said, for me, the most useful thing is the chronology at the back of the book which creates an excellent timeline (which focuses on more than Hal and even asserts that Joelle is disfigured…something that is still up for debate by many and is surpisingly tossed aside like that here). It’s very thorough, and is a boon to anyone trying to keep track of events in the book (but isn’t meant as a summary of the novel).
I assume now that this book is for students (seemingly younger ones?) who have to do research on the book, or at least on the Hal/Gately scenario. I read this book very quickly (and it was fun to relive moments of IJ a year after reading it (!). However, I understand that Elegant Complexity is the companion of choice…I hope I get to it before the end of the summer!