Ane Brun is a Norwegian singer who is currently based in Sweden. She plays piano and guitar and has a pretty voice which reaches high notes but maintains a kind of rough rasp. She says she had a terrible cold and this is her first day of singing. She doesn’t trust her voice yet and she thanks everyone for being so quiet.
The three songs she sings are slow (a little too slow for my tastes). The blurb says that these are the three slower songs on the album, so maybe I’d like them a bit more amid the other songs This is not to say the songs are bad, just a little too mellow.
Having said that, the melody and vocal lines of “Still Waters’ are beautiful. This is the one song she plays on the piano and it does sound rather different from the other two.
For “All We Want is Love” (which she describes as the ultimate love song, kind of), she plays a pretty, picked melody on the acoustic guitar. But its clear that her voice is the main instrument here–and she hits some lovely notes in the repeated refrain of “All we want is love.”
“Signing Off” is the last track on the album. It is a slow guitar song. The melody isn’t as immediate as the previous song, but her voice really does carry the tune nicely. I wonder if her voice normally sounds like this or if the cold impacted her singing.
[READ: March 14, 2016] “For the Best”
I wasn’t that inspired by the previous story of Beattie’s that I read. And I didn’t really love this one either. I found it very slow going.
The story is about a man named Gerald, an older divorced man, who gets invited to a party. His ex-wife, whom he has not seen in some thirty years will also be invited.
But the way this was revealed was kind of circuitous, I thought.
the Clavells weren’t the sort to play pranks, so the printed invitation to their annual Christmas party arrived after what Gerald and Charlotte’s son, Timothy, would call a “heads-up,” sent by e-mail, letting them know that both were invited to the event, at the Clavells’ apartment, on West Fifty-sixth Street. Gerald hadn’t seen Charlotte since their divorce, thirty-one years before, and this was the first time he’d seen her e-mail address. Whether she was on any social media he wouldn’t know, as he was not.
I enjoyed some of the oddly phrased ways the story was revealed (like that last sentence), but it took me a few tries to puzzle out if Gerald was the recipient or the sender oft he invite. It’s a long first sentence, I guess.
I also enjoyed this follow-up sentence: “It was a rather jaunty message from the Clavells, who were not jaunty people.” But I think that reading so much of the story like this is exhausting.
We learn about Gerald and his doorman and his neighbors. We learn about his friend who assures him that Charlotte won’t go to the party, so he can relax.
And then he’s off to the party.
The story is set almost currently–Hilary’s presidential campaign is mentioned as are the California office shootings from December 2015 are mentioned (Gerald doesn’t watch TV, so he doesn’t know about them). It’s the kind of party where this sort of discourse goes on (it made me think of a party in a Woody Allen film–and then Gerald says that it’s like a Woody Allen party himself). He is introduced to a woman and her god-daughter. The god-daughter seems to like him–she may be the only person at the party that he likes. It almost feels like a flirtatious relationship is building between them, of course that is absurd (he must be 60 years older than her), but it’s hard to know exactly.
What I really liked about the story is that the potential arrival of his ex-wife. The thing he dreads the most is bypassed until it inevitably occurs, but in an exceptionally unexpected way. That was a lot of fun and breathed life in to the story.
But their reunion after so many years seemed to just devolve into ancient bickering–with him being a little more polite since she is drunk and he isn’t.
There’s a third section of the story which occurs when he returns to his apartment and speaks to the doorman. The doorman reveals that people don’t know a lot about him, but that is his choice “I’m very professional.” And Gerald feels like he should get to know this man better (something I imagined he would regret later on if he did).
There were some introspective thoughts about growing old and a few funny moments, but I didn’t really get a lot out of this story overall.
Interestingly, I thought of Woody Allen while reading this story and in the interview about the story.
Gerald wonders at one point if he’s in the middle of “some moment in a Woody Allen film,” and there are a number of exchanges that evoke Woody Allen movies for me as well, both in their comedy and in their pathos. Were you thinking of a particular film while writing?
It’s a writerly trick to deflect attention from what you, as the writer, have fallen into—or been handed on a platter—by having a character give voice to it. How could I fail to admit that such a party, now and maybe forevermore, would be thought of as a Woody Allen Party?
I actually felt like the scene with his drunk wife appearing was more like the appearance of the drunken lady in Interiors–the one moment of humor in an otherwise dour story.