Tuesday, July 26, 2011

2011 Booker Prize longlist announced

The Booker longlist was announced this morning, and it's looking like an interesting set of titles! There are many first novels on the list, as well as many novels that lean a bit towards the realm of mystery and genre fiction.

Here's this year's lineup:

Julian Barnes, The Sense of an Ending
Sebastian Barry, On Canaan's Side
Carol Birch, Jamrach's Menagerie
Patrick deWitt, The Sisters Brothers
Esi Edugyan, Half Blood Blues
Yvvette Edwards, A Cupboard Full of Coats
Alan Hollinghurst, The Stranger's Child
Stephen Kelman, Pigeon English
Patrick McGuinness, The Last Hundred Days
A.D. Miller, Snowdrops
Alison Pick, Far to Go
Jane Rogers, The Testament of Jessie Lamb
D.J. Taylor, Derby Day

Based on a quick run through of various synopses, I'm most intrigued by Jamrach's Menagerie, The Sisters Brothers, and Snowdrops. Reading up on Snowdrops reminds me of James Meek's excellent The People's Act of Love, and Jamrach's and The Sisters Brothers look to have just enough indulgent pulp to send them right to the top of my reading list. Sebastian Barry, Julian Barnes and Alan Hollinghurst represent the European literati I expect from the Booker list each year, but I might skip the Barnes this year due to his somewhat lukewarm collection Pulse.

I've ordered some new books and will update the blog when they arrive.

Currently reading:
J.G. Ballard, Millennium People

Currently listening to:
The Caretaker, "An Empty Bliss Beyond this World"

Monday, July 11, 2011

Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49 (first edition, first printing)

One of my favorite things about collecting books is cultivating a list of seemingly unattainable dream items. By placing certain items in one's mind but just out of one's reach forces a person to consider the piece's true value with a different sort of eye. Just as my interest in certain books wanes over time, there are books that have maintained a consistent rank over the past decade or so. Upon reflection, those books are not only valuable collector's items, but they've turned into something new: they represent personal growth and personal goals, and suddenly mean a lot more than you ever expected them to. This may be an overly material way of thinking about things, but... maybe you understand where I'm coming from.

Finally obtaining one of these is a strange feeling--I confess I discovered The Crying of Lot 49 in middle school through the band Radiohead, of all places. Their mail-order site for t-shirts and posters was named after W.A.S.T.E., Lot 49's underground postal service. I proceeded to read the book far too early to comprehend what was really going on, but have revisited it every couple of years and now rank it among my favorite novels (I'll save my analysis of the novel for a later date).

This is a first edition, first printing, features an un-price-clipped jacket and no library markings of any sort. I picked this up a few months ago on eBay, bidding in the final minutes on my fiance's blackberry outside of the grocery store.

Here are the endpapers:

and the publisher's details:

Currently reading:
Sea of Poppies, by Amitav Ghosh
The Sandman: A Game of You, by Neil Gaiman

Currently listening to:
Underworld, "Riverrun: Pizza for Eggs"

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Introducing: The Burgundy Cord

I'm excited to announce the launch of The Burgundy Cord, a new tumblr that is going to serve as the home page for the slowly growing music and art collective I'm a part of:

The Burgundy Cord

At the moment, The Burgundy Cord leans heavily on music projects, but as the months go on I hope to include more visual and literary products. Currently, the site features work by myself and three other artists (all of which were a part of a piano EP that I recently recorded, assembled, and posted about here. The lettered Art Edition has finally been completed and can be seen here).

Here's how it works: all the music featured on the site is free--there are mediafire links with every release that will lead you to a download page. Ideally the free nature of this music will prompt listeners to share what they like with other people who might be interested. We haven't yet worked with any writing, but I imagine those will be shared in a similar, free way. The things that we will be selling will all be handmade, limited editions and will hopefully appeal to collectors of all sorts.

I'm not going to spend much time on this blog featuring links to The Burgundy Cord, but I do hope some of you check out the page--you might find something you like.

Currently reading:
Sea of Poppies, by Amitav Ghosh

Currently listening to:
"The Lyre of Orpheus" by Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds

Sunday, July 3, 2011

REVIEW: Between Parentheses by Roberto Bolano

My review of Roberto Bolano's Between Parentheses was recently published on about.com-- thought I'd share it with you all. Between Parentheses is a collection of essays and book reviews that manage to illuminate a bit more about Bolano than they do his subjects... It's a fascinating read, but don't expect to find much in the way of scholarly discourse.

One of my favorite parts
of the collection is how frustratingly quick Bolano mentions the various writers that have influenced him and those writers active in his literary circles. Although often lofty and overly superlative, Bolano's praise towards these authors creates an ethereal reading-list of sorts, one that I confess has sent me digging through shops for books by Horacio Castellanos Moya, Enrique Vila-Matas, and even Witold Gombrowicz.

You can read my review here:

Roberto Bolano: Between Parentheses

Those of you who have read Between Parentheses, let me know what you think in the comments.

Currently Reading:
The Spare Room, Helen Garner

Currently listening to:

"Dimples", by The Nighty Nite