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Archive for the ‘Nightmares’ Category

SOUNDTRACKTHIS IS THE KIT-Tiny Desk Concert #682 (December 13, 2017).

I know this band because I received a download code for their EP “Spoon Quake Bash.”   I found it really intriguing.  Kate Stables’ voice is unique and has an appealing affectation that I can;’t quite figure out but which I enjoy hearing  And the music on “Moonshine Freeze” is just tremendous–different textures coming from different guitars. I really can’t get enough of it.

The band’s only permanent member is singer Kate Stables.  For this show, she’s accompanied by Rosalind Leyden, Jamie Whitby-Coles, Noil Smith, Adam Schatz, Jonah Parzen-Johnson.  It’s amusing that for the first song, everyone but the bald man is wearing a toque.

In this Tiny Desk Concert the first song is “Bullet Proof.”  It’s just a four piece: bass (Rosalind), drums (Jamie), guitar (Noil) and Kate on lead banjo and vocals.  Her voice sounds like classic British folk singers–very clean and open-voweled.  Once the echoed guitar rises in, the song sound really full.  The song also tells a story, as the blurb points out.

And the stories … Kate … weaves are profound but sweet with a tone that quietly reels you in.

Although it is my least favorite song of the three, possibly because the other two are so much fuller.  For songs 2 and 3 Jonah and Adam join on sax.

“Moonshine Freeze” has so much going on.  A great bass line, echoing harmonics on the lead guitar and Kate’s gentle chugging rhythm guitar.  The drums are a cool shuffle.  It’s such an intriguing song, especially with Kate’s cool vocal delivery.   And then there’s the backing vocals singing in a round.  It’s fantastic.  The horns are a nice touch, too.

“Hotter Colder” sways with a wonderful rhythm guitar melody and some great lead guitar lines from the guitarist hiding in the back.  I love the intermittent oohs from the various singers.  The two saxes also sound great here too.  The song is capped off with awesome bursts of buzzy guitars at the end of the song.

[READ: November 5, 2017] Cucumber Quest 1

Cucumber Quest was (is?) a webcomic.  This book was originally published (via Kickstarter?) back in 2012.  It is now getting a more formal release from First Second (I don’t know if there are any changes in the book).

The book opens with a monster delivering a sphere to an evil queen: “This makes lucky 7, one more and the world will know the meaning of terror.”

The next page is the Prologue.  Cucumber is a bunny and he is about to go off to the school of his dreams–Puffington’s Academy for the Magically Gifted and/or Incredibly Wealthy).  He is nervous but his younger sister says you’re the biggest nerd I know, you’ll be fine.

But then they get a letter from Cuco’s dad (who was in he room when the queen revealed her plan).  He is concerned about world domination and he says hat only Cucumber can put an end to it.  But Cuco is going to school tomorrow!  Plus he’s a real coward. Meanwhile his sister Almond is pretty exited to go on this quest herself.

There’s some really funny jokes in this section

Mom: “Almond sweetheart, you know it’s too dangerous for you.”  Cuco: “But not for me?”  Mom: “Well, Almond IS your little sister.”

As the chapter ends, “Why does dad find a way to ruin everything?”

The Dream Oracle finds him, she is protector of this world and has important information about his quest.  The Oracle then confirms that little sisters aren’t legendary heroes. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: ‘TIS THE SEASON: Praise and Worship Christmas: A Collection of Inspirational Holiday Classics (2001).

s-l500This Christmas Collection came from Sarah.  As you can tell from the title and subtitle and sub-subtitle, this is a religious disc.  And as you can tell from the title and subtitles, they have gone way over the top.

The group consists of a bunch of performers and a choir from something called The Evergreen Community Church/The Rock.  Presumably not the actor The Rock, although that would be pretty cool.

As with a lot of contempo-Christian music, they’ve decided to add a rock flair to it.  So these are 13 songs sung very passionately and with little restraint.  Because if you can have an echo pedal, you should use it.  And for some reason, nothing says Christmas like alto saxophone.

“O Come All Ye Faithful” features that sax prominently.  Up next, I was pretty surprised to hear a rocking harmonica solo on “Joy to the World.”  For the most part the folkiness was okay until the choir at the end.

“Do You Hear What I Hear” has a solid drum machine and an excess of R&B vocals.  Up next, the music for “What Child is This?” is understated and pleasant.  Shame that the singer is shooting for the rafters.  Their version of “Go Tell It On the Mountain” is not gospel-tinged and, stranger yet, they changes the stress of the chorus to the “ow” of mountain.

“Angels We Have Heard on High” brings that saxophone back and back and back.   “O, Little Town of Bethlehem” has a quiet piano motif, but once again, it is oversung.

“We Wish You A Merry Christmas” makes excessive use of that echo pedal on the vocals.  “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” was pretty good.  No complaints.

But try to imagine just how over the top and ponderous you could make an a capella (plus echo) version of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.”

“Silent Night” loses all of its power in this folkie rendition.  I’m noticing the fretless bass and cheesey sax rather that the echoed vocals.  Amazingly, “Amazing Grace” is understated musically with just an acoustic guitar but the singer overcompensates.

The disc ends on a high note (not literally).  On “Joy to the World” the folkie harmonica and guitar work nicely.

[READ: December 22, 2017] “The Christmas Banquet”

Once again, I have ordered The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This year, there are brief interviews with each author posted on the date of their story.

Hello. Welcome. It’s finally here: Short Story Advent Calendar time.

If you’re reading along at home, now’s the time to start cracking those seals, one by one, and discover some truly brilliant writing inside. Then check back here each morning for an exclusive interview with the author of that day’s story.

(Want to join in? It’s not too late. Order your copy here.)

This year I’m pairing each story with a holiday disc from our personal collection. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACKENYA-Oiche Chuin (1995).

I bought this 3-song single back in 1995.  A few years later Enya released a Christmas EP with five songs on it.  It contains the first and third songs from this single and then a few songs from her other records.

“Oiche Chuin” is Irish for Silent Night.  Her version of the song is beautiful and haunting.  The melody is the same, but it has all of Enya’s trademark sounds on it which makes it even more ethereal.  Having it in Irish in no way removes the power of the song, unless of you course you just listen for the lyrics.

“Oriel Window” is a pretty piano instrumental–very different from her multi-tracked productions.

‘S Fagaim Mo Bhaile” is a lovely Enya track.  Not Christmassey, but it’s in Irish so it doesn’t really matter what it’s about.  It translates as “And I Leave My Home,” so it is full of sorrow and yearning.

So not a full Christmas album but the version of “Silent Night” is wonderful.

[READ: December 12, 2017] “Souterrain”

Once again, I have ordered The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This year, there are brief interviews with each author posted on the date of their story.

Hello. Welcome. It’s finally here: Short Story Advent Calendar time.

If you’re reading along at home, now’s the time to start cracking those seals, one by one, and discover some truly brilliant writing inside. Then check back here each morning for an exclusive interview with the author of that day’s story.

(Want to join in? It’s not too late. Order your copy here.)

This year I’m pairing each story with a holiday disc from our personal collection.

I didn’t expect that these advent stories would be all sweet and full of Christmas, but I also didn’t expect to read about bodies being torn in half and flattened by tanks.

I have enjoyed a few stories from Boyko in the past.  However, this story is, as you can tell from the title, a military story.

What happens in military stories?  Somebody (sometimes everybody) gets killed.  And the rest of the time everyone else is more or less waiting to get killed.  Either you wipe out the enemy or they kill you.  It is a torturous time where any diversion is welcome.

But these frightening episodes don’t really make for compelling stories–especially if the person you care about is going to die.

So you can only read for the details of each story and hope they are effective..

The one nice change for this story was that most of the soldiers were women.

I guess these are actually five episodes within the story:

“High Ground” is about choosing the safest place from which to attack some one.

“Six Inches” has the soldiers talking about death (if she had been six inches to the left she would be dead.  And then they were all attacked.

“Mail Call” looks at what happens to the package of a dead solider.

“Still Alive” deals with a soldier’s fear of the dead and how to cope with it–by exposing herself to more dead bodies.

“The Cook Up” finally shows some leisure.  The soldiers are allowed to scrounge for something other than the lousy food ratios.  It’s nice to see them enjoying themselves for a few hours before they all die.

Being a soldier really must suck.

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SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Fall Nationals, Night 7 of 10, The Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto (November 17, 2004).

The Rheostatics, live at the Legendary Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto, November 14, 2004. This was the 7th night of their 10 night Fall Nationals run at the Horseshoe.

I compared all of the setlists from the nine shows and was somewhat surprised to see just how much repeating they did. Most of the rep

 Two versions are available – Mark Sloggett’s soundboard recording and 8 track files provided by Steve Clarkson.  The Sloggett download has 8 minutes of pre show intro music, which I assume is on the PA.  It starts out kind of synthy and cool then turns into piano music then a big horn-filled jazzy song then back to piano as mike starts playing some drums and that’s the official start of “Who Is This Man, And Why Is He Laughing?” even with the PA music still playing.   Despite this being guest vocalist night, this song is instrumental with accordion and clearly spoken Polish.

Martin says they’re not supposed to sing tonight so they’ll do an instrumental version of “Four Little songs.”  No one sings their verse, but Chris String on keyboards plays a lengthy sample: you gave this to, me but you cannot escape, not this time.”  They play the song really well without the vocals and for the end someone is ringing bells in tune.

Dave welcomes everyone to the 4th annual Fall Nationals and introduces their first guest vocalist Robin Lowe from Pittsburgh, PA.  She sounds great singing “Introducing Happiness.”  She’s followed by Melissa McClelland who asks, “Can I do something on this?” and someone jokes, “no don’t touch the keyboard.”  “Can I do some beat boxing on the mic?”  “Absolutely.”  She doesn’t beatbox but she sings a beautiful version of “Aliens (Christmas 1988).”  It’s a bit of a different vocal melody than martin sings and is quite wonderful.

Mike Bell comes out to sing “Beerbash” guessing that they haven’t done this in a while.  It’s rocking and fun/sloppy.   Then Paul Linklater and Donna Orchard
come out to sing “King Of The Past.”  Dave notes that “you guys sang separately last year.”  Which they did.  They do a kind of dramatic singing of the song which I think I like, but not as much as the original.

Dave says, “The beer is here and so is my adorable wife.”  Janet Morassutti who has co-written many songs sings “It’s Easy To Be With You.”  She has a good, deep voice and I love when she gets into the 1,2,3,4.

Kurt Swinghammer comes out and introduces the Trands-Canada Soul Patrol back in the house.  But Dave says they’re supposed to be backing Brenda Lee.  Kurt continues, “It’s time for a Tim Vesely song.  He’s sort of the George Harrison in the band.”  This brings forth three jokes at once including Dave saying he;s more of the George Foreman of the band.   They do “Loving Arms” and Dave says, “you’re lucky we did this last night.”  He sings in a deep and ponderous voice not sure it’s quiet right for this sweet song, but he does a great job with it.  The song ends but the give Kurt an extra solo.

Michelle Rumball comes out and says, “Dave do you know that the last time that I was supposed to sing this song, I showed up and only knew the backing vocals.”  Dave says, “I’ve never forgiven you for that.”  “It was like ten years ago.”  Then Dave notes “No one ever sings “Saskatchewan Part 2”  Michelle says, “next year?”  It’s slow and moody and she kind of messes up a bit but holds it together.  Chris Brown gets a keyboard solo.

Greg Smith of the Weakerthans recently.  He’s going to sing “The Tarleks” and they start asking him “what are you doing now that KRP shut down?”  He says he gets a lot of questions about Bailey Quarters–everybody liked her more than Loni Anderson.   There’s lots of wild synth stuff in the middle.

Chris Brown comes out for “Bad Time To Be Poor” and there’s some seriously off guitar to start the song, but they settle down and play along nicely.

Then they need to take a five-minute break to work on equipment.  Martins Steinberger guitar died.  It led a rich life and needs to go to the hospital.  Sorry about that.

Royal Wood sings a pretty version of “It” and then Steve Stanley puts the power back in “Power Ballad For Ozzy Osbourne” including the intro.  They say that he is currently in a band called Midi-Ogres.  At the end of the song, there’s sustaining feedback note–“make it stop make the bad man stop, stop the fucking note, Mike.”  While they’re fixing that, Chris plays a sample:, “I’ve been practicing every day for a year.  I can’t even learn a piece in a week.  When will I learn to play real good?  How long does it take?”

Jen Foster sings “Take Me In Your Hand” (no accordion) and they do the penny whistle ending.  Justin Rutledge comes up for “Marginalized.”  Dave notes that he played with the last night and slayed the house. There’s some raw guitar sounds, but not as interesting as Martin’s.

Amer Diab comes up to play “Lying’s Wrong.”  Mike says, “Shit, I don’t think I’ve ever played this one.”  Dave: “me either.  How does it start?”  “Thanks for pulling that out of the closet.”

Howard Druckman and Beverly Kreller come out to sing “Chansons Les Ruelles.”  Bev plays the bodhran, which is evidently too loud in the monitors, which makes Dave says, “You’re the John Bonham if bodhran players, aren’t you, Bev?”  Mike: “John Bodhran.”   Howard says, “I remember the People’s Republic of Dave.”  Dave says, “You know Broken Social Scene stole everything from PROD.”

Kate Fenner sings “Northern Wish.”  her raspy voice is nice with this although she misses the “built my rocket” section.  Reid Jameson sings “In This Town” and dedicates it to all the Pisces in the room.  “Posses of Pisces.”  Martin says that he hasn’t listen to it since they recorded it.  They typically play a different version.

Dennis Ellsworth sings “Palomar” but the teleprompter seems to give out for a few seconds.

Simon Wilcox sings “Dead is the Drunkest You Can Get.”  But it causes nothing but trouble.  “Anyone remember how to play my song?”  Tim: “I thought this song only ever appeared on a t-shirt.”  She has a sultry, almost sexy delivery.

Matthew Cowley sings “My First Rock Show” although ta the end he says “He was there, I’ve never seen any of those bands.”  During the Joe Jackson saved my life part, Dave chimes in: “hes always doing that.”

Chris plays the “we are the music makers” sample from Willy Wonka.

Simon Head sings “Shaved Head.”  He says “It’s fun to be part of Rheostatioke.”  Martin says, we were thinking rheo-oke.  It sounds good.  The heavy part is really heavy.  At the end everyone comments: “Nice Vegas walk off, Simon.”  Martin: “next time we do that I’m going to do a walk off like that.  The walk off is underrated.”

David Celia does a nice version of “Claire” and Yawd Sylvester sings “Record Body Count.”  They have fun with Yawd (who mentions Tim’s album that he played on).  They call him the one-armed bandit and then say that “Yawd gives this the one thumb up.”  I wonder what happened to him.  There’s some fun jamming guitars (and accordion?) and other sounds.  And he says “Thanks you guys for putting smiles on 28 faces.”

Ford Pier comes out and Tim says, “Thanks, Ford, for not making us learn ‘Motorino.'” He retorts, “I didn’t not make you learn ‘Motorino,’ you refused to learn ‘Motorino.’  Who wants to hear ‘Motorino?’  Yea, well it’s not going to happen because of the lassitutde of these bastards.”  Tim: “That song is fucked.”  Ford: “It’s a damn good song and next year you’re not getting off the hook so easily.”  [He doesn’t sing it next year]. Tim: “It’s like five or six songs.”  Mike: “The only reason it didn’t happen is because you just got off a plane yesterday.”  Ford: “Perhaps we should be doing “Connecting Flights.”  But instead they play “Junction Foil Ball” and everyone messes it up at one point or another.  Guitars, vocals, timing.  It’s a mess, but fun.  And then right away starts the clapping for the next song, “Rain, Rain, Rain.”  Selina Martin sings it kind of crazy and growly and the final verse is pretty silly.

And then they’ve made it to the end.  John Crossingham comes out and they comment that making it to the end is an achievement in itself.

Mike wonders, “Is there going to be an encore?  Or are we going to be more theatrical about this?”
Tim: “The encore is tomorrow morning.”
Dave: “The encore is Selina Martin jumping around a bit more.”

The next song takes a bit of extra special tuning preparation, bear with us.  So John takes the time to thank the band for such a wonderful idea.  It means a lot to all of us who have graced the stage this evening.

Then Dave asks, “John where’d you get your toque?”  John: “On the floor at a Green Day concert at the Rico Coliseum.  I stepped on something and that was it.  I did wash it before I put it on my head.”  Dave: “You’d have to be pretty drunk to leave toque like that at a Green Day show.  How was the tour?”  John: “It was good.  Had its ups and downs.  His book On a Cold Road got us through.  If you haven’t read it already pick it up.  They’re even selling it over there, smartly.  Or perhaps you’d like to read about Italian baseball or hockey in the Republic of China?”

And then they’re ready to end the night with a great version of “A Midwinter Night’s Dream” (which is not available on the Slogett MP3 download).  John does an amazing job with this really difficult song.  He even hits the super high note in the middle.  It’s a solid version, and while I love Martin’ more of course, it’s really enjoyable.

There’s no encore since the show was already 3 hours long (!).  Although there is a crazy noise at the end of the song for a couple of minute–with synths and Martin messing around.

What a fun night.

[READ: July 7 , 2017] Spill Zone

Sarah loves Scott Westerfeld, although I hadn’t read him before. I had to wonder if this graphic novel was also a traditional novel, because I’d love to see how he described the visuals.  But I believe it is only a graphic novel, so I just get to marvel in the visual imagination of Alex Puvilland.

This book starts out weird, no doubt.  Addison is a teen with a camera.  She has been taking pictures of her hometown in upstate New York.  Which isn’t so strange except that her town is a Spill Zone.

What’s that? Well, actually I don’t know yet.  Suffice it to say that it’s not good.  There are dead people, weird sightings and a roadblock with military personnel.  Addison speculates it could be a nanotech accident colliding with the nuclear power plant, an alien visitation, something from another world?  Some people escaped, like her sister Lexa, but most didn’t, like her parents.  Addison was not there when it happened, and since the accident Lexa hasn’t spoken a word.

She is part of group if what she calls crazy tourists who like to take pictures of the disaster. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: CHILLING THRILLING SOUNDS OF THE HAUNTED HOUSE (1964).

The cover during Phish’s 2014 concert was of this album.

Apparently many people grew up with this record.  I personally didn’t know it, but if you read the comments (don’t read the comments!) on any YouTube clip of the album you will see how popular it is.

Wikipedia describes it as  intended for “older children, teenagers, and adults” released by Disneyland Records (now known as Walt Disney Records). The album was mainly composed of sound effects that had been collected by the sound effects department of Walt Disney Studios. The album was released in several different forms. The album was first released in 1964 in a white sleeve, with a second release in 1973 with an orange sleeve. In both versions, the first side contained 10 stories narrated by Laura Olsher, complete with sound effects. The second side contained 10 sound effects meant for others to create their own stories.

Despite the title, most of the cuts had nothing to do with haunted houses or witches or ghostly spirits. Featured were such situations as an ocean liner hitting rocks, an idiotic lumberjack, a man crossing an unsafe bridge, someone lighting a stick of dynamite and a spaceship landing on Mars. Also, there are tracks with several examples of cats, dogs and birds (similar to “The Birds”) becoming enraged for some reason, as well as a skit about Chinese water torture. In addition, some of the screams were taken directly from the scene where Miss Havisham catches fire in the 1946 David Lean film Great Expectations.

The full track listing is

  • “The Haunted House” 3:00
  • “The Very Long Fuse” 1:28
  • “The Dogs” 1:13
  • “Timber” 1:45
  • “Your Pet Cat” 0:49
  • “Shipwreck” 1:39
  • “The Unsafe Bridge” 1:21
  • “Chinese Water Torture” 2:02
  • “The Birds” 0:46
  • “The Martian Monsters” 1:41
  • “Screams and Groans” 0:57
  • “Thunder, Lightning and Rain” 2:01
  • “Cat Fight” 0:37
  • “Dogs” 0:48
  • “A Collection Of Creaks” 1:54
  • “Fuses and Explosions” 1:11
  • “A Collection Of Crashes” 0:45
  • “Birds” 0:33
  • “Drips and Splashes” 1:18
  • “Things In Space” 0:53

Nothing is especially scary–although maybe for a kid, as many adults claim to have been really frightened by it.  Everything is quite over the top, especially the screams and cat howls and dog snarling.  Even the stories are a little silly, although having them in the second person is pretty genius.

But things like “one night as you lie in your lonely room in your stone hut on the moors…”  (What?).  And the Martian one.  Just keeping with continuity: if “you,” meaning me, went on the trip, then I couldn’t hear the crunching as it ate me.  Or the silly voice saying “I wonder what that was.”

And the less said about the horribly racist Chinese Water Torture the better.  I mean, the opening is bad enough: “The ancient Chinese were a very clever race” but the end of the song is really awful.  But if we can look past that, the rest of the record has fun with sound effects and is generally pretty enjoyable.

During the John Congleton interview, he also talks about this album and says (at 40:28) “the speakers are 180 degrees out of phase to make it sound extremely stereophonic.”  He says now as an engineer it is totally painful to listen to.  Bob says it sounds like it comes from the back of your head.

[READ: October 15, 2017] Half-Minute Horrors.

The premise of this book (edited by Susan Rich) is simple: how scared can you get in 30 seconds?  To me, the answer is actually not very.  I guess for me fear builds over time.  It’s hard to get genuinely frightened over something that just suddenly happens (unless it is just trying to frighten you quickly, of course).

Having said that, I enjoyed this book a lot (look at the list of authors!).  I liked the arbitrary goal of writing a scary story in a paragraph or two (or more).  And some of them were really quite creepy.

I was originally going to point out which ones I felt were the most creepy, but there are so many stories, I kind of lost track.  So instead, here’s a rundown and a brief summary. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: PARAMORE-Tiny Desk Concert #655 (October 2, 2017).

I had always thought that Paramore was someone else (although I don’t know who).  I thought they were a pop punk band.  And maybe they were.

But this six-piece incarnation of the band is not pop punk at all.

Indeed, the blurb says, Paramore

captures the moment between rapture and its comedown, the glitter wiped away, left with skin rubbed raw. It’s a record, more than a decade into the band’s career, that not only exposes the sparkling pop that’s always lit Paramore’s songs, but also deals with the ache of growing up and growing apart.

The first song “Hard Times” opens with a keyboard line that sounds vaguely like steel drums.  It makes me smile that Logan MacKenzie’s keyboard is about six inches long. There’s slices of jagged guitar, but the chorus is pure pop.  The drums (Zac Farro’s drum machine) have an Afro-pop texture and Joseph Howard’s bass plays a few sliding moments that seem very dancey.  Although I do like that the song ends with another jagged guitar chord.

Singer Hayley Williams has a really lovely voice.   Before the next song,  “26,” she say that the new songs are dancey and happy but this song is the most transparent in not covering up the emotions of the record.  Hope we don’t bum you out too much.

The song is simply a gentle echoed guitar from Taylor York and William’s exposed voice.  And the blurb assures us that Paramore’s quieter songs have never quite shown this depth of understated devastation and determination.

Bummed or not she does encourage everyone in the office to sing and dance along, unless that’s awkward.

The final song, “Fake Happy” has synth drums and more of those steel drum keyboard sounds.  The blurb says it’s a soaring anthem to expressing your truest self (and calling out those playing pretend).  There’s a groovy bass line and minimal dancey nods.  There’s some interesting guitar sounds from both Taylor and Justin York.  I like this song, although she tends to fall into some vocal pop trappings that I don’t like, especially in the middle section.

[READ: February 2, 2017] CivilWarLand in Bad Decline

I have been really enjoying George Saunders.  I had considered reading all of his published pieces in the New Yorker.  And then I realized that they were probably all collected in his books, right?  Well, yes, most of his pieces have been collected.  Although for this book, his first, there was only one New Yorker story, “Offloading for Mrs Schwartz.”

When I read In Persuasion Nation many years ago, I remembered thinking that Saunders is supposed to be very funny but that his stories really aren’t.  And now, after reading so many things about his generosity and kind spirit, I was expecting to get more of that from these stories too.  But in both cases, I feel like Saunders was a very different writer.  While there is certainly humor in these stories, it is very dark humor and is often surrounded by characters who are incredibly cruel.  It makes these stories rather hard to bear sometimes. (more…)

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[LISTENED TO: August 2017] The Trouble with Twins

I grabbed this book because it seemed kind of interesting.  I see also that this book was released in the UK as Missing Arabella, which I think is a slightly better title).  I wasn’t entirely sure if we’d like it.  I mean, we don’t have twins and this is about twins and I wasn’t sure that our 12-year-old boy would like a book about twin girls.

But holy cow was this book outstanding!  It was utterly hilarious and the way it was read aloud was genius.

The book begins with this wonderful setup:

And so it begins in front of the fire, the story of two twin sisters.  One remains with her family in their lovely country house, where yellow roses perfume the air.  The other waits for her in another house, where she stands alone at huge arched windows.  She is restless, pacing wooden floors that creak in the night when a cat jumps down from the bed to chase at shadows.

And then in different typeface:

“What are their names?” the girls asks.  “The sisters.”
“Arabella and Henrietta.”
“Are they lonely,” asks the girl.
“They belong together,” says the mother.  “And it makes them sad to be apart.”
“Can’t you tell a happy story?” the girl asks.
“With puppies and a garden?”
“Yes!” says the girl.
“I’m only telling it the way my mother told it to me,” the mother says.
“And will there be puppies?” the girls persists.  “Or only gloomy girls at windows?”

(more…)

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