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Archive for the ‘Translation’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: ANGEL OLSEN-“Give It Up” (Field Recordings, January 6, 2017).

Angel Olsen has a rough, gritty un-angelic voice.  But it’s a powerful voice  And the church [Watch Angel Olsen Perform In A Bronx Church] makes it sound even bigger and more powerful than it normally does.

It was raining in New York on Nov. 9, 2016, and New Yorkers, tired as the rest of the country from a late night after a long election season, walked about in a fog of their own. The sky was still overcast when we met Angel Olsen at the Fordham University Church, an 1845 New York City landmark whose carillon is said to have inspired Edgar Allan Poe’s poem “The Bells.” There, wearing a green raincoat and accompanying herself on electric guitar, she sang “Give It Up,” from her excellent 2016 release My Woman.

Even though she sounds in great voice (and guitar) the naked setting really highlight the ache in her voice (which seems to break at certain point).  I’m sure she felt as shitty as the rest of did on that day, and it really comes across.  God, I have to stop watching things from November 2016,

[READ: January 25, 2018] “The American Boyfriend”

This story came out in 2001 and was written by a North Korean writer and was translated by Yu Young-nan.

It is set in Moscow in the early 1990s.

McCunly was a young American living Moscow.  He got to know a pretty young woman named Katya.

He flirted with her and told her thing like the checkers of my coat symbolize our straightforward lives being intertwined.  He also told her that he was unmarried.

She was thrilled at his declaration of love and told her brother all about the American. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: GUSTER-Lost and Gone Forever Live (2014).

In 2014, Guster released three CDs of them playing their early CDs live in their entirety (excluding for some reason their second disc Goldfly).  This is their third CD ‘Lost and Gone Forever’ recorded live in concert, ten years after its release.

I’m not sure why they don’t say what show it is from, unless they picked the best recordings from a tour?  He does mention Boston at one point, but not sure if the whole show was recorded there.

As with the other two releases, the sound is great.  On “Barrel of a Gun” you can really hear the bongos.

There are a few more guests, which again, makes me think it’s different shows.  Ryan says “We’re inviting a bunch of people to help with instrumentation. Donnie and Amy are going to play strings” [on “Either Way”].  And later, “Fa Fa” has an amazing horn section.

For “All the Way Up to Heaven,” Ryan introduces, “Alright snow kitty bring up the children. It’s 10 o’clock.  It’s late.  Did you teach them the big rock move at the end?  That’s the most important part of the song.”

Like the other discs, they thank everyone for coming out and supporting this album.  He talks about how when they first started playing in 1991 they were all skinnier and had more hair.  They had no idea that so many years later they would still be together and be selling out shows.  “It’s a humbling experience.”

Incidentally when they announced this tenth anniversary tour, they made a video announcement.

[READ: May 31, 2018] “Silver Tiger”

This story involves realism and magical realism.

The narrator Ah Yang, is an adult looking back on his childhood when he lived with Deaf Granny.  He was sent to her early and only rarely saw his parents.

He first saw the titular Silver Tiger near a well pond by Deaf Granny’s house.   Well ponds are an ancient water storage system in China.  They are shaped like pools but are the depth of wells.  It was always off-limits to him  Deaf Granny feared that if he fell in there’d be no saving him (not unreasonable).  But that’s all he wanted to do after he first saw it.

It became even more enticing when a local boy found a turtle in a neighbor’s well pond.  Oh how the narrator wanted his own turtle. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK:  HAYDEN-Live at Massey Hall (February 28, 2015).

The second season of Live at Massey Hall features ten videos from 2015.

A friend of mine from Vancouver got me into Hayden back in 1995.  Back then Hayden had a rough, bassy, somewhat peculiar voice.  Now, twenty years later, that rasp is almost all gone and his songs feel a bit more commercial.

He talks about the Toronto music scene and how important Massey Hall was.  But also the craziness of seeing Dinosaur Jr play at Massey Hall–it was unusual to see a band tearing it up on that stage.  All bands are excited to play there–the rumors of how good it sounds on stage are true.  Massey Hall is a musicians dream.

“Almost Everything.” is from his 2013 album and features him on piano (and harmonica).  I like the organ sound (from J.J. Ipsen) on the song and, lyrically, the song is pretty great:

But I’m recording once again
While my kid is upstairs in bed
And I’ll admit now and then
That some nights when I’m strumming
Or maybe just drumming
The music is still everything…
Well almost everything

“Bass Song” is about “self-defense using a bass guitar.”  This is an earlier song and his delivery is a bit closer to that earlier style of singing.  The song has a really satisfying and fine melody line and riff throughout.  As the song builds to the end, Hayden himself starts playing more and more weird and dissonant chords on the piano while playing a great harmonica solo.  Strangely enough the bassist Jay McCarrol plays drums for this song, while the drummer Taylor Knox switches to bass (but just for this song).

“No Happy Birthday” was written for his five-year-old daughter who is nonverbal. When he tries out new songs or “back catalog classics” with her, she gives the sign for “all done” really quickly.  (Someone shouts, I love you).  She loves me too, she just doesn’t love my songs.  Her favorite song in the word is “Happy Birthday.”  How do you compete with that?  The song is just him on guitar and harmonica.

Taking a break, he says, “You always see musicians fawning over this building. I don’t really see what the big deal is.  [pause] I have to say I’m kidding.  I started feeling really bad there.

“Next is a song about a bar.”  It’s from the soundtrack to Trees Lounge.  It sounds a lot like the original because he’s singing with his bassist’s deep additions to the vocals.

“Hey Love” is a new song with wonderful harmonies. The middle section has him taking out the plug for his guitar and touching the metal part so that it buzzes rhythmically.

“Dynamite Walls” gets a big response. It’s an older song and is very catchy.  There’s a lengthy cool jam session at the end.  It’s nearly three minutes long and it gets really noisy and chaotic with the drummer in particular going crazy by the end.  Then it settles down for the end.

It’s a really solid concert.

[READ: February 2, 2018] “People Who Are Refined”

This is a collection of four stories.  I didn’t really like any of them, but I was absolutely fascinated by the way these stories were discovered.   I remember hearing about this when it happened and it is still fascinating.  So, far more interesting than the content is this:

By Robert Walser (translated by Susan Bernofsky), four stories from The Microscripts, to be published next month by New Directions and Christine Burgin Gallery. Written on scraps of paper in markings often only a millimeter tall, the microscripts were at first mistakenly thought to be a secret code when they were discovered after Walser’s death in 1956. Magnification of the texts revealed them to be a miniaturized form of standard German script.

The first story is about a sorrowful man who disregarded desires.  He was full of loneliness and could not escape his worries.  Midway through he says, “Here I would appear to have completed the first section of my essay.  Now I shall turn to his son or progeny (how did a man living life in loneliness have a son?  Unclear).  The son did not have his father’s worry.  He was happy-go-lucky.  It appears that his soul was unhappy but the language kind of got away from me.

The second story is about a man given a book by a good woman who was married to bad man.  She was delicate and he was trivial.  While she was single she didn’t mind being a charming idealist.  But her husband changed her mind and now she wanted to be bad.  Being good regardless of the circumstances–oh how difficult this was proving to be. She went to what I gather is a brothel

The third is more of a statement about his will to shake a refined individual to rattle him about as if he were a scraggly tree bearing only isolated jittery leaves.  But the abuse is verbal and seems to be a back and forth more than straightforward abuse.

The fourth story is about a man who numbered among the good and refined. He created an enterprise which required the support of other nice, good, devout, refined people.  Surely this was reckless. Yes, they left him in the lurch and abandoned him.  The rest of the story turns into a sort of color scheme.  He is Mr Brown, he meets Mrs Black whom he hates because they harmonize so well.  They met a rascal clad in sky blue who smiled in yellow, cast down his eyes in fiery red, and spoke a deep green.

This ends with “his is certainly a peculiar story, and in any case it has never before appeared in print.”

The same could be true of all four.

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SOUNDTRACKRHEOSTATICS-The Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto (December 10, 2016).

This show is the second of two shows at The Horseshoe Tavern featuring the return of Dave Clark on drums, Hugh Marsh on Violin and Kevin Hearn on Vocals and Keyboards.

After about an hour, there is a ten minute intermission, but this show is about twenty minutes longer overall than the previous night’s.  And the sound quality is 100 times better–nice and full.

The band plays the same five new songs this evening but not all together.  Surprisingly, (a little although I get why it is this way), the set list is pretty similar to the previous night.  The only songs played the first night that were not played the second night were “It’s Easy to Be with You,” “People’s Republic of Dave” and “Self Serve Gas Station.”  The only songs played the second night but not the first were “Palomar” “Halloween Eyes” (!), “Horses” and “Christopher.”

On the download, the intro to “Stolen Car” is actually about 5 minutes of drum machine before the band comes out.  Then Dave Clark plays a bit of an introductory drum solo while I gather the rest of the guys ambled out.  After about 2 minutes of drums, Martin plays the guitar opening to “Stolen Car” and he sounds fantastic singing it.  It’s a really lovely version and Martin hits those high notes with no problem.  When it’s over you hear someone say “never open with a show stopper.”

Bidini says, “More songs about breaking the law.  Although ironically we will not be performing “Breaking the Law” (booo) I guess… never say never, eh?”

Tim sounds great on “King Of The Past” and Kevin does the whole Mister Rogers introduction for “Fan Letter To Michael Jackson” which again sounds different (but only a little) with all of the extra keyboard stuff.  The band is always tight on this song.

Dave apologizes for the TFC, Toronto Football Club, loss.  Was anybody there?  Nobody.  Good. We don’t want any angry football fans here.

Have you said hello to Dave Clark yet?  Dave is playing with a stolen timbale tonight, although he made good.  Way back in the 1980s, Dave stole that drum from Mr McKay’s music class at Martingrove Collegiate.  However, one wintry morning a couple of years ago he enumerated the value of the drum and paid them $500 for it.  “Then I walked home to my old house.  You could have rolled a bowling ball down the roads and not hit a thing.”

I love “P.I.N.” more with each listen.  The four-string guitar sounds great and the band is always having fun.  Whether it’s Kevin’s keyboards floating around or Tim’s interjections midsong, it’s always fun.

Clark is gonna play some brushes for “Mountains And The Sea” which sounds much better at this recording than the previous one.  Mid-song, Dave whispers (that’s Hugh Marsh on the violin).

Then Bidini introduces Martin’s fancy guitar …two necks… two guitars?  Siamese guitar?  Then he notes “a very interesting discussion going on back there.  Are you all discussing my post lounge debut?.”

Martin: Dave’s very exited about the mike… going hand held.
DB: I seized the mike.
Tim: Let’s limit that to one song.
Martin: Seized the mic?  It’s right in front of you.
Kevin: Carpe Mikem [much laughter]
DB: That’s my stage name.

Tim: I think they’re discussing music stands on stage … Lack of commitment?
Martin: Bands that have music stands I want to kill them all… they’re racist….  I don’t know.

They finally start “Northern Wish,” but after a beat Clark says, “Let’s start that again.  I’ll tell you why.  Because I saw a squirrel go by.”  It sounds great and is followed by Tim’s “Palomar” which is dedicated to the dog that’s accompanying someone in here.

They play “saskatchewan” which opens with a long meandering opening, that’s quite lovely.

They take the ten minute break which on the download is primarily synthy jazz, although it doesn’t really seem to be from the club.  When the ycome back Dave says “Our break was good.  We beat up some yuppies in the alley.  Do yuppies till exist?  We are probably yuppies.

DB: Can you see Tim is he lit enough?  No!
Tim: My sister came last night and complained about the light show.  I was in the dark.  I said that’s the way I like it.
Martin:  That’s bass-ial discrimination, Tim’s lightning.

Tim’s “Music Is The Message” also sounds much better in this fuller situation, although it is still primarily piano and Martin’s quiet soloing. When it’s over, someone shouts “Happy Birthday Tim.”

Kevin explains that “Chemical Valley” is from a recording he made with Martin and Hugh last winter, (with Gavin Brown on drums).   Dave says that he and Tim were on a cruise.  There’s lots of Hugh Marsh’s soaring violins.

Kevin says that Martin’s going to sing his song called “The Albatross.”  Martin “The Unlucky Albatross.”

Dave tells a story of Martin working at the Royal Ontario Museum as a young fellow.  Martin says he defleshed an ostrich and a rhinoceros while getting bones for comparative paleontology.  He brought the meat home to eat.
DB: The Tielli’s were famous for their rhinoceros soup.
Martin: The rhino was worse, it was rank, But we got to have a piece of real rhino.
DB: Is it true your dad made grappa with the rhinoceros bones?
Martin: Horn, David, grappa cornuto.
DB: It’s the bands secret.

Kevin: Anyway, Martin’s going to sing his new song.  It’s called, “The Albatross”
Tim: Mr Reality over there.
DB: Fucking talk show host.
Kevin: Happy birthday, Tim and here’s Martin with his new song “The Albatross.”

This version is really good and much more fun, but it still feels more like a solo Martin song than a Rheos song.  But “California Dreamline’ sounds terrific.

Its followed by a 10 minute “Dope Fiends and Boozehounds.” (Three Martin songs in a row).  There’s a beautiful flute-like melody playing throughout the song (Kevin, I assume) and another cool drum solo from Dave Clark.  At he end of the song when it gets to the “dark side of the moon” and the howling starts the sounds get kind of dark and spooky and weird and someone plays the riff for Pink Floyd’s “Money” while some howling goes on.

More banter: “This is the end of our Canadian tour.”  “Did you know it was Tim’s birthday?  He’s 71.”
Tim: That last song really went to the dark side didn’t it?  For a moment, I was on the dark side.”

“Claire” sounds great with Martin playing a wonderful solo and then mid-song it just stops dead.  Tim was saying to bring it down and Martin was saying to bring it up.  Tim says he wanted to hear more of Martin’s guitar.  “It’s your birthday, you can hear all the Martin you want.  I want a guitar solo for my birthday, Martin.  I want some violin on this guitar solo.  Wah wah wah, it’s all about me.  And a little drum solo at the end.

There are cool keyboard twinkles that lend atmosphere to the opening of “Shaved Head.” The song sounds amazing although just before the ending, there’s a pause with much laughing (but Martin doesn’t lose it).  I wonder what happened.

After the encore, Chris Brown comes on to play keys for “Queer.”  After the song, Kevin sings “Waiting For My Man” with the refrain of “Hey Chris Brown what are you doing uptown?  Chris Brown / Uptown.  They start jamming a bit and Dave says, “C’mon, Tim, it’s your birthday, so Tim sings a few lines of “Halloween Eyes.”

After a pause they start playing “Horses,” but Martin says, “Clarkie, just think about the Royal Albert in 1987 and the guy named Tex with the fart gas can and the cowboy hat.
Clark:  He didn’t even work there, he just took it on himself.  He was like a vigilante fart gas man.
Martin: What do you mean he didn’t work there?
DB: You were very disturbed by Tex and his fart gas canister.
Martin: I’m disturbed that fart gas in a can even exists, Dave.
Kevin: Yeah, Dave.
Martin: That’s just weird in itself.  Stop your song that they wanna hear.
Kevin: Yes, let’stalk about this.
after some discussion
Clark: I’ve got a giant can of Beano in the back.
Martin: What’s Beano for?
Clark: It’s for starting songs, lets do one.

“Horses” rocks.  Midway through the song he starts singing “Smoke on the Water” but no one really seems to play along with him.
DB: I’m still in that Dope Fiends Black Hole.
Martin: That Pink Floyd black hole?
Kevin: There’s a cream for that.

Clark sing “Super Controller” which sounds much bigger and more fun with those “ba ba bas.”

There’s another encore break and they come back for “Legal Age Life” which was performed acoustic in the crowd and is thus silent till the ending part.  The recording doesn’t really follow them and you can hear people talking at one point someone even says, “that is them, I thought it was a bunch of other people.”  Then you can hear the end of the song.

Finally, they’re back up on stage and Martin says, “somebody get me a shot, the bar’s closing.”  This leads to an awesome version of “Christopher” to end the night.

It’s a fantastic show and confirms that they are back and better than they have been in years.  Next time I see that they are playing I need to haul myself up to Toronto to watch them.

[READ: January 28, 2018] “One, Two, Three and Four Rabbits”

This was a story published posthumously and was translated by Ezra E. Fitz.

I pretty much never knew what the heck was going on.

It starts with

I. The Future…

From where is the future related?

That’s all of Part I.

Then

II.  The Past (more…)

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SOUNDTRACKCŒUR DE PIRATE-Live at Massey Hall (July 8, 2014).

I known of Cœur de Pirate more from reputation than her music.  But everything I’ve heard I’ve enjoyed.  Cœur de Pirate is Beatrice Martin a Francophone singer from Montreal who sings almost entirely in French.  And yet despite that, she sells out to Anglophone audiences because her music is so darn catchy.

In the opening she notes that it’s crazy that she’s a French-speaking artists singing in french selling out a venue like Massey Hall.  She feels special and can’t wait to hear what it sounds like.

The first song is “Le Long du Large.”  She is playing piano with a great band behind her.  The song grooves along smoothly–it has a great catchy chorus with terrific backing vocals.  There’s an acoustic guitar (Renaud Bastien), a lead guitar (Emmanuel Éthier), bass (Alexandre Gauthier) and drums (Julien Blais).

On “Francis” it’s just her on piano.  The song has a very Regina Spektor vibe in her playing style and singing delivery.

“Ensemble” is bouncy and upbeat, just super fun.

Golden Baby” opens with a melody like “Come on Eileen” but as soon as the electric guitar soars over, it is a very different song.   I love that she sounds like she smiling throughout.

It surprised me that she did an encore so soon in the show, but there’s clearly a reason for that.

Before the encore, she plays “Adieu”  our “last song.”  Shes off the piano on this one, only singing.  It’s got a heavy rocking beat and guitar and it’s really great.

When she comes back for the encore she sits at the piano and asks “More songs?”

“Place de la République” starts as solo piano and it sounds lovely.  After a verse or so, they add a bowed bass and strummed acoustic guitar  which builds the songs nicely.  Half way through, drums come in to give it even more power.  It’s a terrific song.

She is quite sweet saying that “it makes no sense that a French Canadian girl could sell out Massey Hall…. just got to hold it together.”

She invites everyone to sing along. If you don’t know French, just pretend.  It works too.  This is the last song.  Make it fun make it magical.  She says that the song, “Comme des enfants” is being taught in French classes.  It was a huge hit and the audience sings part the last verse.  It’s a wonderful moment and always cool to see an artist overwhelmed by her fans base.

[READ: March 28, 2018] Cici’s Journal

The book (there are two books in this volume) opens with Cici talking about her journal.  We meet Cici and her mom.  We learn that Cici hangs out a lot with the neighbor Mrs Flores, a writer.  Her mom doesn’t love that she hangs out with am older lady, but Mrs Flores is pretty cool.

Cici’s two best friends are Lena and Erica  The pair knew each other since they were babies;  Cici moved to the neighborhood when they were all little.  They have been best friends ever since.

I give Carol Klio Burrell a real thumbs up on this translation. I didn’t realize that it was a translation until well into the second book.  But I didn’t love a few aspects of the story.  The problem here I think comes with the friends.  Lena is sweet and has the soul of an artist.  Meanwhile, Erica “complains constantly, but she has a good heart.”  That’s not a very complex or desirably character trait.  And that aspect of her comes out a lot in the second book, which is kind of annoying. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: DESTROYER-Live at Massey Hall (July 10, 2014).

Destroyer is Daniel Behar (who is also part of New Pornographers and other bands).  Usually, Behar is surrounded by a lot of other people when he plays.  His music tends toward the symphonic.

But for this show (his first time at Massey Hall), it is just him with his acoustic guitar.

In the introduction he says that he gave up playing the guitar a long time ago, but he couldn’t just do a set with him signing a capella so….  He observes that he’s been playing with an 8 piece band–they solo forever and I’m barely singing anymore.  So this is quite something.

He seriously downplays the show saying he doesn’t even really like “guy with guitar” music, he’s more into Sinatra or the Stones.  “This is an anti-advertisement for the show I’m about to play.”

He plays songs from throughout his catalog.

“Foam Hands” is not that different, although I do prefer the recorded version.  In this version, though, I like the way he plays the end chords loudly and dramatically and the way the song abruptly.

“Chinatown” is a much bigger song on record with backing vocals and a rather cheesy sax throughout.  So I like this version better.

He introduces “Streets on Fire” this way: “Here’s a song I wrote 20 years ago.  Showing off because lots of you couldn’t write songs twenty years ago because you didn’t know how to say anything.  Couldn’t play guitar.  Didn’t know the chords didn’t know words.  Pathetic.

The song is from his debut when it was just him and a guitar.  This version sounds 100 times better.

“European Oils”  I love this song from Rubies and I especially love the orchestration of it.  So while I enjoy this stripped down version I’ll take the record.

The original of “Your Blood” is a romping fun song (also from Rubies).  This is slowed down but still nice.  And of course I enjoy that my daughter is mentioned; “Tabitha takes another step.”

“Savage Night at the Opera” has a great bass sound in the original, although this stripped down is very nice.

“Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Sea of Tears)” is a quiet song (the original has drums and piano but’s not that different from what’s here).  It’s quite pretty as is the whole set.  A real treat for fans of Destroyer.

[READ: May 3, 2018] “The Boarder”

This story was translated from the Yiddish by the author.  Singer died in 1991, so I’m not sure if this is a recently found story or an old one that has just been published..

This is a simple story about a pious man and a non-believer.

Reb Berish is the pious man.  He eats only twice a day; he prays for many hours a day.  He had recently retired from his business in fabric remains and had little to do.  Over the last forty years, his wife had died, his son had died and his daughter had married a gentile in California.

He didn’t want to live alone so he took in a border, Morris Melnik. Melnik paid $15 a month, but that wasn’t the point.  Berish was taking pity on the man who had literally nothing left in his life–no family, no job, no God.  Melnik was a heretic; a nonbeliever.

He mocked Berish for praying “to the God who made Hitler and gave him the strength to kill six million Jews.  Or perhaps to the God who created Stalin and let him liquidate another ten million victims.”

It sounds like the premise for a sitcom, but this story does not do that. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: JOHN MORELAND-Tiny Desk Concert #733 (April 20, 2018).

I don’t know John Moreland, but the blurb says he was in a metal-core band.  That band was Thirty Called Arson.  The blurb also says it’s hard to believe that he was in such a band, but I can hear the gravel in his voice, as sweet as it may seem.

Moreland falls into that Steve Earle kind of alternative country that I begrudgingly like.  I especially liked the first song.

Moreland and his musical partner John Calvin Abney kick off the Tiny Desk Concert with “Sallisaw Blue,” a song originally recorded in a bar in Moreland’s hometown of Tulsa.

“Down for the count, along for the ride
Sipping cold medicine, ruining our lives
Slumming I-40 with American songs
They can bury our bodies in American wrongs”

This is one of those funny situations where the main guy’s sidekick is the far more musically talented fellow.  John Calvin Abney plays a wild harmonica and some cool solos as well as adding all kinds of grace notes to the song.  Of course, it is Moreland’s voice that is the centerpiece.  And really, I love the chorus of this song.  I love the chord progression and how unexpected it is coming from those verses.

“Old Wounds,” is a slower song.  It’s got the disturbing lyric, “if we don’t bleed, it don’t feel like a song.”

It’s a style of storytelling and image-painting that John Moreland has been making with his guitar for at least the past ten years, over seven albums. His songs are filled with characters and tales of broken love and broken people.

“Cherokee” continues with those broken people: “I guess I’ve got a taste for poison / I’ve given up on ever being well. / I keep mining the horizon / digging for lies I’ve yet to tell.”  The melody is pretty and the accompanying guitar is quite lovely.

Moreland would be a treat if he opened for someone I wanted to see.  I would enjoy a 30 minute set from him.

Especially if he plays a Thirty Called Arson song

[READ: April 12, 2016]: “Vast Hell”

This was a short story (just a couple of pages) but it was packed with so much.  And I loved how by the time it was over I had more questions than answers.  I also loved the very strange way it was constructed.

With such a great opening sentence

Often when the grocery store is empty and all you can hear is the buzzing of flies, I think of that young man whose name we never knew and whom no one in town ever mentioned again.

(more…)

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