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Archive for the ‘Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ Category

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SOUNDTRACK: OS MUTANTES-“Fool Metal Jack” (2013).

Iosmut have known about Os Mutantes for years.  I never knew anything about them (and never really understood their name–although now that I have been working with Brazilian books at work I realize that their name is Portuguese for The Mutants (it was the Os that always threw me off).  I had no idea that a) they’d been around since the 60s and were part of the psychedelic scene or b) that they were still around (after some breakups and with a largely new lineup) or c) that they sang in English (which they do on several songs on this album) or d) that their new album kicked so much ass.

The album is called Fool Metal Jack and it is a fantastic mixture of fast heavy rock, Brazilian traditional sounds, what I assume are Native Brazilian chants and a heavy dose of weirdness.  All wrapped up in an anti-war stance, like on this track “Fool Metal Jack.”

A creepy, distorted  bassline introduces this song which sounds like the guy from Gogol Bordello singing a Tom Waits march.  It’s about a soldier in the middle of a war.  The bridge means more voices come in, bringing in an even more disorienting sound.  And the chorus chanted “Yes.  No More War” completes the song.  By the time the wailing guitar solo comes in the chants of “This is the war of hell” have even more impact.

This stomping song was a great introduction to this band who I now need to explore further.

[READ: April 18. 2013] The Last Interview

I enjoyed Kurt Vonnegut’s “Last Interview” and since I had always intended to read Bolaño’s I was delighted to see that our library had it.  Bolaño is a fascinating interview subject because you never really know what he is going to say.  There are even serious questions about the veracity of his life story which many people believe he fabricated for more dramatic effect.

But the one thing that is absolutely consistent about Bolaño is that he always praises writers whom he respects (and will trash those he doesn’t, although that seems to come more from the interviewer’s  instigation (not that he needs a lot).    So the last interview that he did is the one from Mexican Playboy which has been collected in Between Parentheses.  But the other three are earlier and, it seems, a little more “truthful” or at least less naughty-seeming.

What’s fascinating about this book is that the introduction by Marcela Valdes (“Alone Among the Ghosts”) is over 30 pages long!  The article originally appeared in The Nation on Dec 8, 2008 (read it here).  As such it’s not an introduction to this book, it’s introduction for English readers to Bolaño circa 2666.  And it’s a great read.  It is primarily about 2666, which Valdes has read many times.  She goes into interesting depth about the story but mostly she relates it to Bolaño’s own experiences while writing the book.  It focuses especially on his research about the real murders.  His interest was genuine and he sought help from a reporter who was doing genuinely decent work (ie. not accepting the word of the state about what was going on).

Bolaño has said he wished he was a detective rather than a writer, which explains The Savage Detectives and Woes of the True Policeman.  But Valdes also points out how almost all of his shorter novels have some kind of detective work involved–seeking someone who is lost or hiding.  The article was really great and is worth a read for anyone interested in Bolaño, whether you have read him or not. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: ODDS-Bedbugs (1993).

This CD features the minor “novelty” hit “Heterosexual Man” (the video featured some of the Kids in the Hall in it).

This disc feels like a big step forward from their first disc.  It isn’t radically different, but it feels more accomplished and maybe more confident.

The bluesy tracks feel bluesier (“Car Crash Love”), the rocking tracks feel more rocking (“The Little Death”) and the acoustic songs feels more substantial (“What I Don’t Want”/”Fingertips”) with really nice harmonies.

And of course, there’s “Heterosexual Man” a great, funny rocker with a fantastic sing-along chorus.  Odds are still doing poppy, slightly alternative rock, but they’ve simply gotten better at it.

[READ: September 13 2010] Light Boxes

I received this book from the Penguin Mini at BEA.  It’s been sitting on my shelf tempting me since then and I decided that I would give it a read (even though I am anxious to start the two books that are next on my list).  Well, it was certainly a good book to read first as it is even shorter (and faster) than its tiny size suggests (it’s 150 pages).

I’d never heard of Shane Jones before (he’s a poet and this is his first novel), but the premise sounded so intriguing: a small town is experiencing perpetual February (going on some 900 days now).  It is cold and dark and depressing and for many, sunlight is but a distant memory.

And plotwise, the story is interesting: a spirit/god/being (let’s call him February) is playing tricks on the townsfolk to keep them in this state of February.  He convinces them that someone in town (let’s call him February) is causing the perpetual cold.  He also seems to be inspiring the town’s children to go missing.  And all of this is a punishment for men’s attempts at flight: kites, balloons, even birds are now verboten (and the priests enforce the rule). (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: MARTHA WAINWRIGHT-I Know You’re Married But I’ve Got Feelings Too (2008).

I’ve been a fan of Loudon for years.  I also rather enjoy Rufus.  So why not check out Rufus’ sister Martha and see how she stacks up in the family canon.  Actually, it’s not fair to compare because she is an entity all to herself.  And indeed, I feel that she sounds nothing like her family (maybe a weeeeee bit like Rufus, but not really).

In fact, I find that Martha’s voice rests comfortably between Mary Margaret O’Hara, Jane Siberry and, somewhat surprisingly, Patti Smith.

Lyrically, the title of the album pretty well tells you where she’s coming from: smart-assed and a little pissed off.  But the real question is what kind of songs does she actually write?  Well, the second song on this disc “You Cheated Me” is so strong and so catchy I was convinced it was a cover.

The rest of the disc is an exciting collection of styles: baroque arrangements, pop folk, and even straight ahead rock.  There are times when the songs are not so much difficult as cantankerous: with her vocals reaching extraordinary heights.  But it’s not just Martha showing off her range, the vocals work very well with the lyrics.

She also adds two covers on the disc: Pink Floyd’s “See Emily Play” which she takes some of the weirdness out of but which adds a bit of her own eccentricities to it.  (It’s a great cover).  The other cover is the Euryhthmics’ “Love is a Stranger” which doesn’t sound like a cover until the chorus kicks in.

I feel like the disc is a little long (somehow it feels like it should end after “See Emily Play”) but that’s not really that big of a complaint.  Even though Martha sounds like others, she is still quite a unique presence, and this is a worthy CD for anyone who likes quirky singer songwriters.

[READ: Week of March 1, 2010] 2666 [pg 353-404]

I was bracing myself for a horrific section here.  The Part About the Crimes is 280 pages of women being killed in graphic detail. Well, that turned out to be not exactly true.  At least so far.

Nevertheless, the Part is largely filled with crime scene details about the many many women who died in the Santa Teresa region between 1993 and the beginning of 1994.

For my sanity I’m not going to detail all of the young women who were killed in this Part.  I know someone on bolanobolano is detailing all of the deaths in the book, so I’ll assume that that is dealt with there. (more…)

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