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Archive for the ‘Kate Bush’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: KATE BUSH-“Under Ice/Waking the Witch” (1982).

A lot of the music I listen to is weird and probably creepy to other people, but I don’t necessarily think of songs as appropriate for Halloween or not.  So for this year’s Ghost Box stories, I consulted an “expert”: The Esquire list of Halloween songs you’ll play all year long.  The list has 45 songs–most of which I do not like.  So I picked 11 of them to post about.

Esquire didn’t pick this song, but the inclusion of Kate Bush yesterday reminded me of this pairing of songs which I find incredibly creepy–especially late at night wit headphones.

This comes from side two of the Hounds of Love album.  Side Two is a suite or a story called The Ninth Wave.  Kate makes full use of sound effects and vocal panning so that you can hear the voices all around your head as they whisper, call or threaten.

The side begins with the gentle “And Dream of Sheep” which shows a young woman falling asleep (later we find it’s not as innocent as it seems).  This segues into “Under Ice” which begins with slow string notes that sound like someone skating.

Kate’s voice is deep, slow and echoey as she sings about skating on the ice.  You can hear a voices calling, but she doesn’t heed them:

I’m speeding past trees
Leaving little lines in the ice
Cutting out, little lines in the ice
Splitting, splitting sound
Silver heels spitting, spitting snow

and then in a more tremulous voice (with great watery sound effects) followed by a chorus of voices:

There’s something moving under
Under the ice moving
Under ice through water
Trying to
It’s me
Get out of the cold water
It’s me
Something
It’s me
Someone, help them

The two minute song segues into “Waking the Witch” which opens with a whispered “Wake up!” and an early morning wake up call while voices from all over the headphones try to get you to wake up–some more gently than others.

After a minute or so of this the song becomes an intensely scary four minutes.  A voice of someone, pleading, but garbled and cut up–perhaps under water? It is a nightmarish attempt at communication when a deep scary male voice states (with Kate singing the parenthetical)

You won’t burn (red, red roses)
You won’t bleed (pinks and posies)
Confess to me, girl (red, red roses, go down)

With a pretty melody, a voice whispers Spiritus Sanctus in nomine.  It cuts to another chopped up and manipulated voice praying “Bless me, father, bless me father, for I have sinned.”

The deep voice returns in accusation:

I question your innocence
She’s a witch
(Help this blackbird, there’s a stone around my leg)
Ha, damn you, woman
(Help this blackbird, there’s a stone around my leg)
What say you, good people
(Guilty, guilty, guilty)
Well, are you responsible for your actions?
(This blackbird)
Not guilty (help this blackbird)
Wake up the witch

As the four minutes fades off, we hear a helicopter flying through the air and a man shouting

Get out of the waves!
Get out of the water!

The story continues from there and gets a bit more positive, but man, the cinematic detail of this is staggering. Apparently she was finally able to stage this suite when in 2014, she performed her first concerts since 1979.  I would have loved to have seen that.

[READ: October 23, 2019] “The Distributor”

Just in time for Halloween, from the people who brought me The Short Story Advent Calendar and The Ghost Box. and Ghost Box II. comes Ghost Box III.

This is once again a nifty little box (with a magnetic opening and a ribbon) which contains 11 stories for Halloween.  It is lovingly described thusly:

Oh god, it’s right behind me, isn’t it? There’s no use trying to run from Ghost Box III, the terrifying conclusion to our series of limited-edition horror box sets edited and introduced by Patton Oswalt.

There is no explicit “order” to these books; however, I’m going to read in the order they were stacked.

This has been quite possibly my favorite story in any of the Ghost Boxes.

Richard Matheson wrote I am Legend and many episodes of The Twilight Zone and this story was the epitome of dark suburban paranoia come to life.  It is also scarily timeless and, aside from some of the words used in the story, could easily have been written today. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: KATE BUSH-“Get Out of My House” (1982).

A lot of the music I listen to is weird and probably creepy to other people, but I don’t necessarily think of songs as appropriate for Halloween or not.  So for this year’s Ghost Box stories, I consulted an “expert”: The Esquire list of Halloween songs you’ll play all year long.  The list has 45 songs–most of which I do not like.  So I picked 11 of them to post about.

Most people who know Kate Bush know her songs that have broken the Top Ten.  But if you dig deeper into her catalog, Kate has some really intense and really creepy songs.

I was pretty delighted to see this on Esquire’s list because it’s a pretty deep cut, it seems like a surprising choice and because it gives me chills.

It starts with thumping drums, a plucked string melody (dulcimer?) and a guy making a kind of hee-hawing sound in the distance.

And then the lyrics.  Good old gothic horror:

When you left, the door was
(slamming)
You paused in the doorway
(slamming)
As though a thought stole you away
(slamming)
I watched the world pull you away
(Lock it)
So I run into the hall
(Lock it)
Into the corridor
(Lock it)
There’s a door in the house
(slamming)
I hear the lift descending
(slamming)
I hear it hit the landing
(slamming)
See the hackles on the cat
(standing)
With my key I
(lock it)
With my key I
(lock it up)

The next part has Kate speaking in a funny voice (and in French) in your left ear before the “chorus” (such as it is) features Kate singing the main lyrics quietly and slowly while the recurring refrain is her shrieking and gasping at he top of her lungs (but recorded so it sounds far away) “Get Out of My House!”

The middle of the song gets more frantic.

This house is full of m-m-my mess
(Slamming)
This house is full of m-m-mistakes
(Slamming)
This house is full of m-m-madness
(Slamming)
This house is full of, full of, full of fight
(Slam it)

Midway through the song, while repeating “Get Out of my House!” the dulcimer returns playing a bouncy melody while a man’s voice whispers creepily in your right ear:

“Woman let me in!
Let me bring in the memories!
Woman let me in!
Let me bring in the Devil Dreams!”

Kate replies:

I will not let you in!
Don’t you bring back the reveries
I turn into a bird
Carry further than the word is heard

The man counters:

“Woman let me in!
I turn into the wind.
I blow you a cold kiss,
Stronger than the song’s hit.”

Kate concludes:

I will not let you in
I face towards the wind
I change into the Mule
“I change into the Mule.”

She turns into the Mule and starts braying and hee-hawing, which then transforms into the man who did it at the beginning of the song.

That’s not quite the end, but I’m not even sure what’s going on as the song ends–voices keep muttering something over and over.

It’s five and a half minutes of confusion and creepiness.  Perfect Kate Bush.

[READ: October 23, 2019] “It Feels Better Biting Down”

Just in time for Halloween, from the people who brought me The Short Story Advent Calendar and The Ghost Box. and Ghost Box II. comes Ghost Box III.

This is once again a nifty little box (with a magnetic opening and a ribbon) which contains 11 stories for Halloween.  It is lovingly described thusly:

Oh god, it’s right behind me, isn’t it? There’s no use trying to run from Ghost Box III, the terrifying conclusion to our series of limited-edition horror box sets edited and introduced by Patton Oswalt.

There is no explicit “order” to these books; however, I’m going to read in the order they were stacked.

I don’t know Livia Llewellyn, but if her other stories are anything like this, she must have a wonderfully bizarre body of writing.

This story starts off fairly conventionally.  Twin sisters wake up to the sound of a lawnmower. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: PLACEBO-Running Up That Hill (2003).

Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” is a masterpiece of a song–weird and wonderful and surprisingly moving.

This Placebo cover is much darker, with the sleazy/sultry/hopeless/hopeful edge that Placebo is based around.  The video is a collection of fan-submitted headshots of people singing the song, which makes it all the more moving.

I will always love the original more, but this version is pretty great as well.

[READ: December 30, 2018] Barefoot BF [Posts 1-8]

I don’t normally write about blogs. Heck I don’t normally read many blogs (I’m a print guy).  I would also never be drawn to a blog about running.  But this blog is different. It is about running but it is about a lot more: music, redemption, friendship, relationships and running as a way of coping with the shit you’ve done in the past.  And the writing is great–suspenseful, passionate and honest.

This blog about running will have you riveted as he talks about how a run was a metaphor for dealing with the crazy family nonsense that he was coping with–and it is pretty crazy.  He writes about the races that he’s run, but he writes in such a way as to make the outcome ever in doubt–running with plantar fasciitis?  Running when your foot is swollen and the only conceivable relief is removing the shoe (hence the barefoot title)?  Running on Cape Cod in a Nor’easter while your girlfriend is miles behind you?

It’s some pretty intense stuff. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: September 8, 2018] First Aid Kit

Seven month ago Sarah and I saw First Aid Kit (sold out) at Union Transfer.  Now here they were back in Philly seven months later playing at the larger Fillmore.

We both enjoyed that earlier show a lot (obviously).  I wasn’t sure if it was smart seeing the band again on the same tour (as with Sloan, there was a lot of duplication).  But there was something quite different about this show compared to the first one.

The (very beautiful) poster was different and this leg of the tour was called the Rebel Hearts Tour (whereas the first one was called the Ruins tour).  So what this meant was that they were still playing mostly songs from their new album Ruins, although not all of them, and, indeed, not the title song.  But they’d added a new song (woohoo!) and one from Ruins that they didn’t play last time.

In a nutshell, it felt like a very different show even though it was more or less the same show. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: July 27, 2016] Kristin Kontrol

2016-07-27 20.08.28 I didn’t know who Kristin Kontrol was before this show.  I had to look her up and I saw that she used to sing for the Dum Dum Girls (she was Dee Dee Dum Dum).  I never really cared for them (I don’t like old time “girl group” music, so I didn’t need to hear it updated).  For some reason I assumed she would be loud and brash (which I realize is not what the Dum Dum Girls sound like anyhow).  Rather, her new outfit Kristin Kontrol embraces her love of 80s synth pop.

When she came out I didn’t realize she had been performing for a few years already (they formed in 2008), so while I knew she wasn’t a new artist, I was delighted with how much stage presence she had.  She even had “moves” down (arm gestures that went along with the songs) and she was really poised.

She told us that her first concert was Garbage way back in 1995 and it was that show that made her want to be a musician.  So she was delighted to be opening for them.

The band consisted of a drummer (who used a soft mallets on his cymbals, which I liked, as well as a mixture of electronic and analog drums), a guitarist who seemed to be playing lot of weird electronic sounds with is instrument (he was on the far side so I couldn’t really see him) and a bassist/keyboardist who was right in front of me.  Despite the guitar/bass line up, the overall sound was very synthy (even when no one was playing a synth).  (more…)

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CV1_TNY_06_23_14Booth.inddSOUNDTRACK: NADA SURF-If I Had a Hi-Fi (2010).

nadaI have enjoyed Nada Surf more with each album.  But for some reason, I never bothered checking out this covers album.  Which is my loss.  Covers albums fall into all different categories–bands that try to ape the original exactly, bands that mess around with the original, and band who take the songs and make them their own.  In this case Nada Surf takes all of these songs and makes them sound just like Nada Surf songs.  Sometimes, they make them sound unlike the original and give them specific Nada Surfisms.

I didn’t know all of the songs on this record.  In fact, I knew very few of them (which is a pretty unusual way to run a  covers record, no?  This falls into the “introduce your fans to songs you love category).

I knew “Enjoy the Silence” (Depeche Mode) which is incredibly different.  Obviously, the original is synthy, but while Nada Surf keep it dark, they add a bit of jangly chords and change the way some of the verses end (the way they do “and forgettable” is so intriguing).  Even the ba bas at the end transform the whole nature of the song.  “Love Goes On!” (The Go-Betweens) is a song I knew a little and Nada Surf sounds an awful lot like the original (but I like the way they make the chorus even bigger).   “Love and Anger” (Kate Bush) is similar to the original but with that Nada Surf twist.  It’s not big and epic and Matthew Caws doesn’t try to hit her notes (he does have a high voice though), but it’s a gorgeous rendition.  “Question” (Moody Blues) is probably the most famous song on the disc.  Nada Surf rocks the song pretty hard.  The pick up the tempo, but slow it down just right for the slow part.  It’s quite faithful, without being in any way proggy.

The rest of the songs I didn’t know.  And some of the bands I’ve never heard of (!).  “Electrocution” (Bill Fox) opens the records and while I don’t know if it’s any different, it could be a great original jangly pop song from Nada Surf.   “Janine” (Arthur Russell) is only a minute long. It’s a pretty, delicate acoustic guitar song.  “You Were So Warm” (Dwight Twilley).  I don’t know that I’ve ever heard a Dwight Twilley song, so I have no idea how this compares, but I like the way the last long of “Janine” is the chorus to this song.  I rather assume the original is not as poppy as this (but I don’t know Twilley, so why do I think that?–Turns out I was entirely wrong, the original sounds an awful lot like this version).

“The Agony of Laffitte” (Spoon).  I know Spoon, but not this song.  I can imagine how Spoon performed it, and I imagine that Nada Surf have smoothed the song out and made it prettier and slightly less dramatic.  “Bye Bye Beauté” (Coralie Clément) is sung in French. I’ve never heard of the original performer.  I don’t know how the original sounds, but this could easily be a Nada Surf song (they have done songs in French before) and the harmonies are beautiful.  Speaking of French, the also do “Evolución” (Mercromina) in French (“ev-oh-loo-see-own” is much more fun to sing than “ev-oh-loo-shun”).  This song starts out slow with a cello stating the melody.  It then turns into a dark acoustic guitar song, minor key and tension-filled.  Vocals don’t come in until a minute and a half in (the song is 5 minutes).  I’m not sure what the song is about, but even the catchy chorus is kinda dark.

“Bright Side” (Soft Pack).  Soft Pack is another band I’ve never heard of.  This song is a fun almost punk track–fast and catchy with simple lyrics a fun chorus (and ahhh backing vocals).  The disc ends with “I Remembered What I Was Going to Say” (The Silly Pillows) another band I’ve never heard of.  It is played on prepared piano in a waltz style.  Perhaps unexpectedly, it has no words.  It’s a nice capper to the album

Incidentally, the cover is a wonder line drawing that is fun to stare at and the liner notes (which would be much much easier to read on vinyl) are just jam packed with information about the original artists.

[READ: September 18, 2012] “Madame Lazarus”

Another story with a dog.  This one begins in a rather amusing manner.  An older gay man has just received a small terrier as a present from his younger lover, James.  The narrator is worried about his boyfriend staying around (he is so young and beautiful, while the narrator, who has just retired, is getting older and older).  The narrator doesn’t like the dog, but decides it will be one more thing to tie him to the James, so he decides to keep her.  He names her Cordelia.

The story is set in Paris, and the older man walks the dog around the city.  But mostly he thinks about his age and his past.  He says that anyone his age is amazed that he survived the Nazis much less lived to be an old man. He also thinks of his ex-wife, Simone, whom he meets for lunch from time to time.

The story seems like a sweet story of age and love, lost love, but love nonetheless.  But then the flashback introduces some darker moments. (more…)

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fivedials_no28SOUNDTRACK: PHINEAS AND FERB-The Twelve Days of Christmas (2010).

phineasWhile The Bird and the Bee has become my new favorite serious version of The Twelve Days of Christmas, this Phineas and Ferb version is my new favorite silly version of the song.  Sure it’s especially funny for fans of the show but, as anyone who has seen the show knows, Dr. Doofenshmirtz is comedy gold and so his wishes for Christmas and his updates and concessions (and the fact that he is a traditionalist) absolutely make this worthy of repeat listens.

[READ: December 19, 2013] Five Dials Number 28

Five Dials #28 is vaguely thematic–about heroes.  Some items are literal (the writers-as-heroines drawing), some are speculative (my favorite conceit–the stories of quickly killed side characters in movies), and some are unrelated at all–the guy who helped out Will Self.  This issue was launched from Sydney, Australia.

CRAIG TAYLOR-A Letter from the Editor: On Heroes and Convicts
Taylor talks about everything mentioned above and then talks about Robert Hughes’ The Fatal Shore and his primer on modern art: The Shock of the New (which has an accompanying documentary series). (more…)

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[ATTENDED: March 16, 2013] C!rca: Wunderkammer

circa1 As part of our theater-going experience, I bought Sarah and I tickets to C!rca’s Wonderkammer show.  I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect (but we’ve has such good luck with shows that we didn’t know anything about that  I wasn’t worried).  The blurb about C!rca reads:

In this exquisite cabaret of the senses, a diva melts into a rope, balloons and bubble wrap discover their artistic souls while bodies twist and fly.  Seven performers of unbelievable ability bend the very fabric of reality.  Sexy, funny and explosive, Circa presents a breathless cocktail of new circus, cabaret and vaudeville.  Control and abandon, skill and humour, lyricism and anarchy all meld into a sinuous fugue of profound beauty.

So, you sort of think you know what you’re going to get, but in many ways that descriptions is kind of meaningless.  It may help to say that C!rca are from Australia (meaning it’s unconventional).  But really nothing prepared me for what we saw. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: RA RA RIOT-Live at the Black Cat, Washington DC,  October 12, 2008 (2008).

I really like Ra Ra Riot’s album The Rhumb Line, and this concert is basically a showcase for that album.  There’ s an interview at the end of the show (all downloadable from NPR), in which the  band says that critics raved about their live show as much as their album.

I don’t really hear that the show is more energetic than the album (maybe visually they are wild), but it did sound fantastic.  It’s amazing to hear a rock band that is dominated by strings–the cello and violin are often louder than the guitar (but not in a competing/drown you out kind of way,  more of a strings do the melodies and the guitar adds bulk to the sound).

I always enjoy hearing a band that is grateful to their audience for showing up (this is most evident in young bands, who seem so much more genuine about their love of the audience) and Ra Ra Riot are certainly that .  They seem genuinely surprised at the turn out, and they play a great set accordingly.

There are two songs that aren’t on the album here “A Manner to Act” and the encore “Everest.”  They both feel like they came off the album, which bodes well for their second album, Orchard, which just came out in May.  Ra Ra Riot also do a great cover of the obscure Kate Bush song “Suspended in Gaffa.”  At the end of the show they tack on a cover of “Hounds of Love.”  Lead singer Wesley Miles has a wonderfully strong voice and he can reach some pretty high notes–not soprano or anything like that, just strong enough to be able to pull off a Kate Bush cover.

This is a great show.  And when you read about the tragedy they suffered just as they were starting to take off, their obsession with death may not be so surprising.  I’m looking forward to Orchard.

[READ: 1995 and August 18, 2011] Microserfs

After reading Life After God and thinking about Microserfs, I looked up Coupland’s bibliography and saw that indeed Microserfs came next.  And I was really excited to read it.  I have recently watched the JPod TV show and I knew that JPod was a kind of follow-up to Microserfs, so I wanted to see how much of it rang true.  And I’ve got to say that I really rather enjoyed this book.

While I was reading this, I started taking notes about what was happening in the book.  Not the plot, which is fairly straightforward, but about the zeitgeisty elements in the book.  And, since I’m a big fan of David Foster Wallace, I was also noting how many zeitgeisty things this book had in common with Infinite Jest.  I’m thinking of tying it all together in a separate post, maybe next week.  But I’ll mention a few things here.

My son also loved the cover of this book because it has a Lego dude on it and he has been really getting into Lego lately.

So Microserfs is the story of a bunch of underpaid, overworked coders who work for Microsoft.  The book is written as the journal of Daniel Underwood (Coupland still hadn’t really branched out of the first person narrative style, but the journal does allow for some interesting insights).  The story begins in Fall 1993.  I felt compelled to look up some ancient history to see what was happening in the computer world circa 1993 just for context.  In 1991, Apple released System 7.   In 1993, Windows introduced Windows NT, Intel released the first Pentium chip, Myst was released and Wired magazine launched.  In 1994, Al Gore coined the term Information Superhighway.  Yahoo is created.  The Netscape browser is introduced.  So we’re still in computer infancy here.  It’s pretty far-seeing of DC to write about this.

Daniel works at Microsoft with several friends.  Daniel is a bug tester, Michael (who has an office, not a cube) is a coder, Todd (a bodybuilder) is a bug tester.  There’s also Susan (smart and independent), Abe (secret millionaire) and Bug Barbecue (an old man–he’s like 35).  The five of them live in a house on “campus.”  There’s also Karla (a type A bossyboots who doesn’t like seeing time wasted) who works with them but lives up the street.

As the story opens, Michael has just received a flame email from Bill Gates himself and has locked himself in his office.  This leads to a very funny scene and ongoing joke in which the office mates feed slide two-dimensional food under his door and he vows to eat only things that are flat. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: KATE BUSH-Director’s Cut (2011).

Kate Bush has re-recorded eleven songs from her two least-loved discs, The Sensual World and The Red Shoes.  According to the story at NPR, this seems to have been inspired by the Joyce estate’s granting Kate the right to use part of Ulysses as the lyrics for the song “The Sensual World” (in the original version she paraphrased the book).  So, she decided to re-record a bunch of other songs from those two albums as well.

I admit that neither one of those discs is high on my repeat play list, with The Red Shoes being a particular disappointment.  (Although there are some great songs on each).  When I read that these songs from those two albums I wasn’t terribly excited to hear them.  But I must say that these new versions have really reinvigorated these tracks.

I’m surprised by some of the choices (redoing “This Woman’s Work” is something of a shock, as is redoing her only real hit from The Red Shoes, “Rubberband Girl”), but whether it’s that she chose the best songs, or the new version have more life to them, this is a wonderful collection of songs.

Actually, rechecking the track listing, it does appear to be the best tracks from both discs, but I’m pleasantly surprised to seen how many good songs were actually on The Red Shoes to begin with,

from The Sensual World

  • Sensual World (retitled “Flower of the MOuntain”)
  • Deeper Understanding
  •  This Woman’s Work
  • Never Be Mine

from The Red Shoes

  • The Song of Solomon
  • Lily
  • The Red Shoes
  • Moments of Pleasure
  • Top of the City
  • And So is Love
  • Rubberband Girl

For the most part, the music seems to be the same (although there are some glaring exceptions).  I admit to not remembering the originals for all of them all that well).  But she has mostly rerecorded her voice (and possibly other lyrics, if NPR is accurate).  Her voice is unmistakably Kate, but in some places she sounds noticeably older (which she is, so duh).  She doesn’t seem to be able to hit quite the highs of before, but her voice has a throaty excellence to it now that brings something new to the songs.  It’s not noticeable on every song, although it is most notable on “This Woman’s Work,” which began with high sopranos, and now begins with lower alto notes.  But she can still hit some of the cool screechy notes on “Top of the City”

There are some tracks that are very different, “A Deeper Understanding” (a song about love via modems) replaces the earlier style of singing with a heavily autotuned computer voice.  It’s unsettling but very cool sounding.

The biggest changes come in “This Woman’s Work” and “Rubberband Girl.”

“This Woman’s Work” is a far more sedate track now. It doesn’t have any of the soaring moments of the original.  It seems to have more depth in this version, but I miss the “Oh darling make it go away” moment.  Nevertheless, it sounds really pretty in this more mature version.  It’s simply a very different song now.

As for “Rubberband Girl,” I’ve always had a real fondness for the original, so I don’t know how I feel about the rerecorded version (which is so very different).  The original is very elastic with cool music and weird vocals and is kind of trippy (and may not even be all that good), but I have grown quiet attached to it.  The new version is a simple guitar sound (it reminds me of a sort of unplugged Rolling Stones song now).

Overall, this is an exciting revitalization of Kate’s back catalog, and I hope it inspires her to make another new album in the next few years or so.

[READ: May 14, 2011] Austerlitz

I read about Sebald in Five Dials. And the glowing talk about him made me want to read one of his books (specifically, this one).

Austerlitz is a strange novel which I enjoyed but which I never really got into.  I feel like rather than absorbing me into its words, the book kind of held me aloft on the surface.  As such, I have a general sense of what happened, but I’d be very hard pressed to discuss it at length.

The basic plot summary is that an unnamed narrator runs into a man named Jacques Austerlitz.  Austerlitz talks to him at length about his life. They run into each other at various points over the years, and Austerlitz’ story is continued.  And literally, that is the book.  Now, of course, Austerlitz’ story is multifaceted and complex.  But we will never forget that this is a story within a story (it’s impossible to forget because the phrase “said Austerlitz” appears about 500 times in the book. (more…)

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