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Archive for the ‘Flann O’Brien’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: THERAPY?-Lonely, Cryin’ Only [single] (1998).

I have a few Therapy? singles, but I wanted to mention this one specifically because it has two “new” recordings on it.  The first is of “Diane” the Hüsker Dü song that they first recorded on Infernal Love.  The second is of “Teethgrinder” their first “hit” off of Nurse.

I’m always intrigued when bands reinterpret their own songs, but I have to say that these two remakes are disappointing.  “Diane” is slowed down quite a lot and is very very crisp.  But it rather removes some of the creepiness of the original (and it’s a very creepy song).

As for “Teethgrinder,” the original of that song is stellar.  Any changes can only be for the worst.  And that’s the case here.  There’s so many great, weird sounds from the original (and those sounds make it wonderful) that without them, the song is fine, but nothing awesome.

Fortunately these tracks are b-sides and not really official or anything.

[READ: May 4, 2010] The Review of Contemporary Fiction

This is my first exposure to this journal.  The only reason I bought it was for the main (and only) title in the book–Damion Searls’ ; Or The Whale (which I’m reading now and will review shortly).

The rest of the journal contains Book Reviews and ads for forthcoming publications.  Since I didn’t plan to talk about that back matter in ; Or The Whale, I ‘ll do it here.

There are 22 book reviews in the back of this journal (which itself is 368 pages and only costs $8.00!).  Each book is not quite an academic book, but certainly not popular fiction or non-fiction.  There are a lot of French writers (either in translation, or of books about them).  There’s also some reviews of books that were long out of print (Robert Walser’s The Tanners and two works by Breyten Breytenbach).

The one surprise is the inclusion of a sort of meta-science fiction title by Christopher Miller called The Cardboard Universe.  It’s an encyclopedic guide to a sci-fi author whose initials are PKD. (Phoebus K. Dank–although Dank does have a fictional character called Phillip K. Dick).  It sounds great and yet it is an encyclopedic-style book of over 500 pages.  I’m just not sure if I’m up for it.

I’ll probably never read any of the books reviewed (I barely have time for the stuff I really want to read), but they all sounded interesting in one way or another.   For the entire list of books reviewed and more info on the journal, click here.

After the Book Reviews, there’s a Books Received list.  I assume this is all of the books that they were asked to review.  I wonder if they’ll review all of them?   The only author I recognized in the list was A.S. Byatt.

There’s then a few ads for like-minded publications: n+1, Chicago Review, Trickhouse, which looks fascinating, and Absinthe (new European writing).  There’s also a listing for new books from University of Delaware Press about Don DeLillo’s Underworld, Thomas Pynchons’ Mason & Dixon and William Gass’s The Tunnel (which I really ought to read as that book was a mystery to me).  There’s even critics I recognize in these essays!

The final pages are ads for forthcoming books from Dalkey Archive Press (the publishers of The Review of Contemporay Fiction).  I know Dalkey for a few obscure titles (mostly from Flann O’Brien, but others as well).  The books in this list are from the Dalkey Archive Scholarly Series and include titles like Phantasms of Matter in Gogol (and Gombrowicz); Reading Games: An Aesthetics of Play in Flann O’Brien, Samuel Beckett, and Georges Perec (which I admit sounds really interesting, but which I will likely never read).  The final title in the list is called Don’t Ever Get Famous: Essays on New York Writing after the New York School.  I’m curious about this one.  The book blurb mentions a number of writers that I’ve never heard of, so I can’t decide how to take that title.  I only wish the blurb explained it.

If I were more studious, if I worked in academics, if I didn’t read so many other things, I would definitely subscribe to this journal.  But as it stands, I’ll be just getting just this one (and maybe an occasional other one if the mood strikes me).

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mcs24.jpgSOUNDTRACK: GUIDED BY VOICES-Universal Truths and Cycles (2002).

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I like Guided By Voices more in theory than in actuality. In theory, Robert Pollard is a songwriting maniac who has released hundreds of songs that are all snappy, catchy and brilliant. In practice, Robert Pollard is a songwriting maniac who has released hundreds of songs that he puts out whether they are finished or not. A vast quantity of GBV output is about a minute long. And for the most part the songs feel like fragments, rather than real songs. Nevertheless, I find that just about everything he writes is catchy and quite good, it’s just that so much of it is so forgettable.

Despite that, they have several songs that are fantastic. I could easily make a greatest hits record of GBV songs that I think are fabulous, and it would probably have 20 songs on it. The only problem is Pollard has released probably a thousand songs, so that’s not such great average.

I received this copy of Universal Truths and Cycles as a promotional copy many years ago. I had really enjoyed Do the Collapse, and so I grabbed this CD, and much like my assessment above, I find that there’s nothing I really dislike about the album although at 4:59, almost three times longer than a typical GBV song, “Storm Vibrations” tends to drag, but overall there’s not that much that’s memorable. Of course, “Everywhere with Helicopters” is fantastic and “Christian Animation Torch Characters” is also pretty wonderful. I could pick maybe 3 of the 19 songs here to go on my hits collection, but overall, the album is typical GBV, a little weird, but very catchy.

[READ: October 2, 2007] McSweeney’s #24.

I just flew through this latest issue of McSweeney’s. It was a real treat to read. The packaging was another one of their fun covers. It is designed in two parts, with a gatefold type of sleeve that reveals a full nighttime scene if you open it all the way. These guys have so much fun with their design, I’m surprised they’re not noted more for that.

Anyhow, the contents: the one side is a selection of six short stories, they all seem to feature guns, and they’re not afraid to use them. The other side is a symposium of reasonably famous authors writing tributes about Donald Barthelme, and two short stories by Barthelme himself. It also comes with an excerpt from Millard Kaufman’s Bowl of Cherries, which I have not yet read, but if it’s good I will get the book and review it later. (more…)

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