Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Ann Goldstein’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: PHOEBE BRIDGERS-Tiny Desk Concert #677 (November 27, 2017).

Phoebe Bridgers has an incredibly delicate voice.  And yet despite its delicacy it is also really powerful (as evidenced by the note she holds at the end of “Motion Sickness”).

I know the original of “Motion Sickness” which has a big raw guitar and a powerful chorus.  Her entire sound is stripped down here, with just pianist Ethan Gruska and violinist Rob Moose accompanying her on her quiet guitar.

Together, they celebrated the occasion with languid renditions of three of the album’s best songs: the sad and seductive “Demi Moore,” a drastically muted “Motion Sickness” and a piano-driven take on Bridgers’ first-ever single, “Killer.”

“Demi Moore” has some interesting synthy sounds accompanying Phoebe’s gentle guitar.  I really like the way the violin is playing somewhat unsettling notes rather than gentle accompaniment.  I cannot figure out what this has to do with Demi Moore, though.

As noted, “Motion Sickness” is very different.  It’s a little less catchy somehow (I really like the contrast of the guitars and her voice on the original).  But the song sounds really pretty this way (and I am charmed at the way she seems to be smiling throughout the song).

She describes “Killer” as being about murder.  It includes an unsettling conversations about Jeffrey Dahmer and Bridgers singing without her guitar.  It’s a stark piano song that really lets you hear how pretty her voice is.

I’m very curious to know what she typically sounds like live.

[READ: May 13, 2017] My Brilliant Friend

In what I thought was the final issue of The Believer (it went on hiatus for a couple of years), Nick Hornby says he really enjoyed My Brilliant Friend.  So I decided to check it out (since it’s part of a series and was compared tangentially to My Struggle, I decided to keep a running tally of pages just in case I decided to read all four of these books).

I haven’t read a ton of Italian writers, I gather.  And while that doesn’t really impact the quality of the story (or the translation by Ann Goldstein) the book does talk about locations that I’m pretty unfamiliar with.

Evidently there is intrigue about the identity of Elena Ferrante (the name is a pseudonym).  I didn’t know that until after I read the book and looked up to see how many more books there were.  Ferrante (I’ll go with she, because why not) has written four books in this series and three other books with out her identity being discovered.  I suppose the reason her identity is interesting is because this book seems to be autobiographical.  Of course what do you call an autobiography by a pseudonym? (more…)

Read Full Post »

SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATCIS-The Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto, Ontario (August 24, 1995).

24Aug1995-adThe blurb tells us: This was the first proper Don Kerr show in Toronto. They had played the Roadside Attraction tour but this was the first in Toronto. It also features 4 songs played for the first time – Connecting Flights (aka Two Flights of Stairs), Four Little Songs, Sweet,Rich,Beautiful and Mine, and All The Same Eyes (aka Crescent II). Also the only known cover version of Joe Jackson’s I’m The Man.

As the show opens, you can hear Martin playing some cool sounds but you can also hear people asking questions on the tape, like “what are you guys doing after?”  “It depends on who has what where.”  And the snarky response, “Oh I think I know who has what and I can tell you where it is.”

Then you can hear even more chatter: “We got the best seats in the house.  You’ve seen them before haven’t you?  We have to get right up front.  When we finish our drinks.”

Martin’s noodling resolves into a lovely “Song of Flight,” and once the song starts properly you can’t hear the talkers (aside from occasional shouts).  This segues into a gentle “California Dreamline.”   After Martin sings the line, “in love with each other” Dave chimes in “and all of them wearing shirts like that” (this is not the first time I wish there was a visual).  Shockingly, or not, you can hear the chatter again during the quiet section of the song.

There’s a kind of weird version of “MJ”—it feels like they’re being a little goofy with it.  It segues into a more folkie sounding than usual “Cuckoos.”

Dave chimes in that these “songs feature all kinds of strange beings and creatures cuckoos Michael Jackson (Martin: that’s the weirdest one of them all) whale people, bird people, turtle people, and people from space;  not to be confused with People from Earth [the opening band] who use their talent for good not evil.”  This is a lengthy intro to “Aliens” a song I love which I feel they hadn’t been playing very much.

This is the first known recording of “Fat” which wouldn’t come out until 1996.  It sounds great.

For some reason, Dave says, “I told you you shouldn’t have worn such a flashy shirt, Martin.”

For “Introducing Happiness,” Dave says, “Make us happy Tim, send us a little message of joy.”

“Claire” opens with Tim singing a couple of lines Spirit of the West’s “Scaffolding”  (from their then-new  album).  “Claire” features Tim oohing in the beginning (with a la la thrown in), I think this was  fairly recent convention.  There’s a pretty wild solo from Martin.  The whole song is nearly 7 minutes and when it’s over, Dave says, “That’s the weirdest version of ‘Claire’ we’ve ever done.  And that’s something, I think.”

Dave says they’re going to debut some new material tonight (I guess they’d played “Fat” before?).  The first is Tim’s brief “Connecting Flights.”

“Fishtailin'” has a quiet ending.  But it’s followed by a rocking “Dope Fiends.”  Dave says it’s a song about Etobicoke.  The middle features a drum solo (a good one with different drum sounds like in the previous show which also featured Don Kerr–although Dave calls him  something else.  It has a great soaring ending.

Dave says, “We’re going to do a very serious piece now. I think it’s our most profound work to date.  Tim chimes in: Especially the very end.   Before continuing, Tim says, “I think this is  our first proper show in Toronto with Don Kerr on the drums.”   Dave: “It won’t be our last we’re playing here tomorrow and Saturday.”

The “serious” song is “Four Little Songs” which they mess up right away and then start again.  The song sounds pretty much as the record does, except he says “I had a dream I was in Neil Peart’s kitchen.”

There’s a kind of cut in the tape and when it comes back, someone is shouting “finally, finally, it’s about fuckin’ time” and Dave says “no kidding eh, it’s about time we got serious and …”  Then he is interrupted: “you want me to take off my hat?  That’s a steel-rimmed hat.  That’s a Kodiak hat.  (Tim: it’s pure dachshund, that’s very expensive).  Dave: Do you want to wear it or do you just want to touch it?  What do you want to do?  There’s a thing with the scabies on the scalp. Not cooties… scabies.  Or is it rickets?

Dave continues, “We had a great summer we opened for The Tragically Hip on their Roadside Attractions tour.  They played with Eric’s Trip.  Julie from Eric’s Trip is going to open for us… Welcome Julie to Toronto! and Benji and Julie’ husband whose name I forget.”

They play another new one: “Sweet Rich Beautiful Mine.”  After the song, Dave says, “Martin, I think that can be the slogan for the 90s what do you say.”

We’ll complete our new song trilogy with another new song: “All the Same Eyes” is another gentle Tim song which segues into a furious “RDA.”

Introducing “Self Serve Gas Station,” they tore down the gas station and the hopes and dreams of little Rexdale boys everywhere.  I’m awfully settlement about it.  How about you?”  Martin: “little boys love gas stations.”

Martin thanks the People From Earth for opening.  Some shouts they sounded too much like you… Martin replies.: “they’re related”  (Martin’s brother John Tielli was the lead singer).

“Self Serve” starts and then Martin stops it: “I thought Dave hit a wrong note but he was tuning, I forgive him.”

“Soul Glue” is as usual boppy and fun.  After the “They dragged the bottom of the lake” line, there; s a rough scratching guitar noise and Dave shouts “I found a shoe!.”  When they get to the end section Martin sings “didn’t say anything at all” (he hits a really high note–atypical for this song and it sounds great.”

They start the vocal introduction (you you you you) to “Horses” and someone in the audience shouts “Here we go.”  After Dave does a little chant the band starts.  It’s a very unusual version as the first verse is very quiet with Dave practically whispering the lyrics and the only loud thing is Tim repeating the “you you you” the song itself grows really intense, as it should.

During the encore break, Tim says “Don had to go to the bar to get beer for them. Sorry it took a little while.”

They end the show with two covers.  Dave announces that Jane Siberry has a new album out (that would be Maria). This is from her new wave period, her pink period, which is my personal favorite period.  “One More Colour,” obviously.  It’s followed by a fast, wild and chaotic version of Joe Jackson’s “I’m the Man.”  I can’t quite tell who is singing lead.

This is a really fun show with the introduction of new songs and some experimenting.  It was the last show of 1995 (on this site) excluding the Group of Seven show which was quite a different thing entirely.

[READ: March 4, 2009] “The Adventure of a Skier”

This is the first piece I have read by Italo Calvino.  Calvino’s name has been around for ages, but I honestly didn’t know a thing about him.

So, with that in mind, Italo Calvino was, at the time of his death, in 1985, the most translated contemporary Italian writer.  This story was translated by Ann Goldstein.

This was a simple, very simple story.

It begins with a bunch of disorderly boys clamoring for the ski lift.  There’s some wonderful details of just what an uncoordinated pack of rowdy boys looks like. (more…)

Read Full Post »

novocSOUNDTRACK: BUKKENE BRUSE-The Loveliest Rose (2002).

bruseI’m not entirely sure how I came to own this disc.  But I’m so glad I do.  This is a Christmas album from one of Norway’s traditional ensembles (pronounced: BUH-kayna BREW-sah).  They have been around since the 1990s and have toured extensively around the world.  This is their only Christmas album.  It was recorded in an Oslo church.

The album features four players on some great traditional instruments: Arve Moen Bergset – vocals, violin & Hardingfele; Annbjørg Lien – Hardingfele & nyckelharpa; Steinar Ofsdal – flute; Bjørn Ole Rasch – pipe organ.

The album is a wonderful collection of music.  I prefer the instrumentals, although Bergset does have a lovely singing voice.  What I found most interesting is that the sound of the music conveyed many non-Norwegian feelings.  I heard some Irish sounding traditional music and even some Native American (the flute in the final song).

The pipe organ sounds amazing and the fiddle, especially on “Father Fiddled on Christmas Eve” is fantastic.

Nine of the songs are traditional, the rest are written by the band, aside from St. Sunniva, the opening of which comes from ELP’s “Karn Evil 9, 3rd impression (I kid you not–it is quite stripped down here).

I really love this non-traditional traditional Christmas album.  I’m including the track listing mostly because I wanted to have all of this Norwegian in a post.

  1.   A Child Is Born in Bethlehem «Eit barn er født i Betlehem» (3:18) [great flute and a surprisingly catchy hallelujah]
  2.   Lullaby for Julie «Lullámus» (3:15) [great sound of the Hardanger fiddle which has two drone strings]
  3.   Spirit of the Grove «Haugebonden» (5:14) [a gorgeous melody]
  4.   Christmas Eve «Juleftan» (3:38) [unusual fiddle sounds and an unusual and captivating melody]
  5.   My Heart is with Jesus «Mit Hjerte Altid Vanker» (6:32) [the pipe organ really elevates this song]
  6.   St. Sunniva «St. Sunniva» (3:44) [organ and fiddle together in this Irish sounding song]
  7.   A Little Child So Pleasant/In the Sweet Christmas Time «Et lidet barn saa lystelig / I denne søde juletid» (7:20) [beautiful flute and solo violin]
  8.  Father Fiddled on Christmas Eve «Så spela far juleftan» (3:02) [that cool, unusual fiddle is back]
  9.  The Loveliest Rose has Been Found «Den fagraste rosa er funni» (2:35) [the voice is really great on this one]
  10.  Christmas Gangar «Romjulsgangar» (3:22) [beautiful fiddle and flute dance with some unusual sounds from both instruments]
  11. For Such Generous Gifts «For saadan’ mildheds gaver» (2:53) [a New Year’s tune that is rather haunting, I must say]

[READ: December 14, 2014] Novocento

In continuing with my obsessive reading of all things Baricco, I had to interlibrary loan this book from Johns Hopkins.

Novocento is confusingly titled because that is the Italian title as well and although it is a number (which could be translated) in this book it actually refers to a person, which would not get translated–so look carefully for the English edition (done by Oberon) and wonderfully translated by Ann Goldtsein).  It was designed as a play (and this edition is the play).  However, it is a one man monologue (with music ion the performance), so it doesn’t “read” like a play.

The book is 56 pages long.  They have also made a movie out of it (called The Legend of 1900, not just 1900 which is a different movie).  Amazingly the movie is 170 minutes (Italian version) and 120 minutes (international).  That must be a lot of music.

The story is simple, Novocento, as he is called, was born on a ship–an ocean liner that transported people primarily from Europe to America in the early 20th century.  His parents were undoubtedly lower class and left him on the piano aboard the boat (we don’t hear their story at all).  One of the crew finds him and names him Danny Boodman T.D. Lemon Novocento.  Danny Boodman is the man who found him, T.D. Lemon was on the side of the box he was left in and Novocento was the year. (more…)

Read Full Post »

withoutSOUNDTRACK: GOJIRA-L’Enfant Sauvage (2012).

gojiraGojira is a French heavy heavy metal band, and this album was highly recommended back in 2012 (I didn’t realize it wasn’t their debut–they have quite a few records out already).  This album is quite heavy, but it has a lot of diverse elements to keep it interesting.

At the same time, they do rely on a couple of guitar effects which make the album weirdly samey (no idea if they do it on other albums too).  The two biggest offenders in this “repeated” scenario are the seeming over-reliance on the open high e string to add contrast to the heavy chugging chords.  It’s a cool effect once or twice but they do it a lot (especially in the song “The Axe” where it happens way too much and which is then followed by “Liquid Fire” where they do it again).  The other thing they do is this weird scraping sound.  It happens in the first few notes as the disc opens (in “Explosia”).  It’s a really cool sound and quite distinctive.  When you do a weird sound like that a lot in one song, it feels like maybe too much, but then to do it in several other songs, it feels like a crutch.

Which is a shame because the rest of the album is really interesting–the vocals are growly but audible and there’s occasionally really cool backing harmony vocals (“Liquid Fire”) and some really unusual different parts to songs.

So “Explosia” opens really heavy with a crazy riff and pounding drums (and that weird scraping sound).  I love that at 2:30 it switches from bludgeoning to slower (but still heavy) and that as the song fades out with another heavy section there are slow guitar notes that remind me of a Western.  It’s really cool. “L’Enfant Sauvage” uses that open high E string in an interesting riff (by doing more than just letting the string ring out).  (The scraping sound appears here too, but in limited quantity). I like the way the song’s volume just drops for the last thirty seconds or so.

“The Axe” opens with a pummeling drum and guitar sound.  “Liquid Fire” alternates between heavy guitars and that open high E sound.  “The Wild Healer” is a simple, pretty instrumental.  It is 2 minutes long and the main riff is simple one (again all on one string).  There’s an interesting solo that plays along behind the main riff which is quite pretty–but it all ends very abruptly.

“Planned Obsolescence” jumps right in with some pummeling guitars (an a scrape sound).  It slows down a bit, but towards the end the pummeling double bass drums resume until the really slow sweet guitar section that comes in around 3:45.  “Mouth of Kala” has a heavy riff which is a cool change (even if the riff is fairly simple).  But there’s some nice melodies that alternate with the heavy stuff.  I also really like the way the song ends with a very different riff and sound than the beginning.  (And the backing vocals are really cool too).

“The Gift of Guilt” has an interesting open E string riff (which is similar to Iron Maiden’s “The Trooper,” although they do something very different with it.  This song is just littered with odd effects, like a big heavy “bowh” sound and some high-pitched guitar pyrotechnics.  But I love the way it alternates parts (the growly vocals work really well here, too) and then ends so melodically.

“Pain is a Master” opens with a slow guitar riff and whispered voices, it’s a great change of pace for the disc.  Once the slow part ends, the guitars and drums pound furiously and we get some more odd effects–a siren sound (from the guitar) alternating with the ubiquitous scrape.  But the middle parts are really quite different, slower, slightly more menacing.  “Born in Winter” opens and closes with a slow and atmospheric section (delicate vocals even).  In the middle it gets heavier (and has some really fast drumming).

“The Fall” has an Alice in Chains vibe in one section and then a more cookie monster type vocal on another.  The scraping sound returns for a final showing. I really like the way the album just sort of disintegrated into random sounds as it ends.

So overall I really enjoyed this album. It’s probably nitpicky to complain about the overuse of certain sounds, especially since they are cool.  But they have so much creativity on the disc, that to hear the same things a few times just seems redundant.  Nevertheless the album rocks and is a really enjoyable metal album.  I was supposed to see them open for Mastadon earlier in the month but something came up and I had to eat the tickets (who knew you couldn’t even give away Mastadon/Gojira tickets, come on!).

[READ: November 21, 2014] Without Blood

I’ve been enjoying Baricco so much that I decided to grab this book while I was in the library too. I had already read this book a couple of years ago, or actually, I had read the version that appeared in the New Yorker.  The Wikipedia entry says that the New Yorker version is a”revised form” of the novel.  I didn’t know what that meant exactly.  But basically I gather it means that Ann Goldstein (who translated the New Yorker version) has re-translated the story (or that they edited it for the magazine the first time).

The New Yorker version is really long for a New Yorker story (it is practically the whole novel), so it’s understandable why things were a little shorter for the magazine.  But she hasn’t changed very much for the book.  There’s a lot of little modifications–tenses of verbs (in flashback situations), word phrases are altered, additional details seems to have been added and there is at least one small section in this novel that was not in the New Yorker version.

This “new” section is about a woman who is sitting in the cafe with them.  She asks the waiter about the two main characters and we learn a little about her past as well (it’s not relevant to the story and I can see why it was omitted, but it does flesh out the scene).  I am not willing to do a page by page comparison of the two (even though that is something I tend to do). But suffice it to say that the stories are virtually identical, although I found it more satisfying reading the novel version.

Since my original recap is basically how I would summarize it this time as well, I am including it here almost verbatim.  But in the spirit of the updated version of the novel, I am modifying this post from the original in small details–see if you can spot the differences. (more…)

Read Full Post »

gwynSOUNDTRACK: STARS-No One is Lost Tour EP (2014).

stars epStars are back with a new album and this downloadable 5 song EP.  There’s something about Stars’ aggressive pop sensibilities that I just love.  It’s the dual vocals, the big choruses and I’m sure to a certain degree it’s the darkness in the lyrics that compliment the poppy music so much.

The EP has five songs, “No One is Lost” and “From The Night” are from their new album.  “Hold On When You Get Love And Let Go When You Give It” is from their previous album The North.  There’s also two exclusive tracks: “Blue Is The Colour” and “From The Night” (A Tribe Called Red Remix).

“From the Night” has simple, keyboard note-driven verses which are obliterated by the dancey and even discoey chorus.  Surprisingly at the 4 minute point, it adds a third fast part which segues back into the catchy chorus.  “No One is Lost” opens with Amy Milan speaking French before the keyboards wash in.  It has a slightly faster pace than their usual fare.  But despite the bouncy music in the chorus, we get the twisted lyric: “put your hands up coz everybody dies” (that’s Stars in a nutshell).

“Hold On When You Get Love And Let Go When You Give It” is less dancey (perhaps less discoey sounding is more accurate).  It’s got a real Stars feel to it (when Milan comes in at the chorus it is really angelic), and showcases Stars’ previous album very well.

The two new songs include the Tribe Called Red remix of “From the Night.”  I’m not that big a fan of remixes, but this one is pretty good.  I like the way they stripped the big chorus of the music and left it spare–which makes their catchy vocals seem kind of sinister.  I actually expected a bit more of Tribe’s signature sound put into the song, but that’s not really what remixes are all about, so I guess it’s no real surprise they didn’t.

“Blue is the Colour” is a dark sounding song as well, until the chorus comes in with some poppy keyboards and slinky guitars.  It’s very electronic sounding which I love in contrast to Torquil’s mellow vocals.  But at 6 minutes long, this song has many sections up its sleeve, and the twist at 4 minutes really turns the song into something else, with an almost epic feel.

It’s a great sample of Stars more recent work.  This link takes you to WXPN from which you can download the EP from NoiseTrade.

[READ: November 5, 2014] Mr. Gwyn

I loved this book.  It has been one of my absolute favorite books in years.

The premise is fairly simple.  A successful writer (Mr. Gwyn) has had three books published to much acclaim and financial success.  But one day he wakes up and decides that he is done writing. He crafts a list of 50 things he will never do again, and one of them is write a book which he publishes in the newspaper.  His agent thinks it is a great marketing scheme, but Gwyn is quite serious.

Gwyn then disappears from society for a while.  Only his agent is able to fin him (Gwyn and the agent are very close).

After a series of small incidents, Gwyn’s agent tracks him down at the laundromat.  He has sent his new employee, a young woman named Rebecca, to give him a phone through which they can talk.  Rebecca is respectful and Gwyn is fascinated by her.  Over the next few months, he and his agent only communicate via Rebecca.

One day, in order to avoid a rain storm, Gwyn ducks into an art gallery.  He has never really understood art.  But he becomes fascinated with the portraits there.  And he decides that his new “job” is that he is going to create portraits with words.  He calls his new occupation, “copyist.”  Obviously his agent freaks out about his–no one even knows what “copyist” means.  But Gwyn is determined.

He spends the next few months getting ready–he rents a studio, buys furniture and specially ordered light bulbs.  And then he is ready to work.  But who will he his first portrait be? He finally settles on Rebecca–someone he knows a little and feels comfortable enough to ask to pose for him.  And this is where the story became fantastic. (more…)

Read Full Post »

SOUNDTRACK: PHOENIX in Studio at KEXP (2009).

For this in-studio  performance, two members of Phoenix showed up to play a stripped down acoustic performance.

They play four songs (and all of the songs are quite short, as well).  Three songs from Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix (“Listzomania” “1901” and “Armistice”) and a cover of Air’s “Playground Love.”  Given how different Phoenix and Air sound (even if they are both French), it’ an impressive change of style for the set.

This stripped down version really shows what a great voice the singer has.  And these songs, while not quite as catchy as the originals, still sound fantastic.  There’s also a brief chat with the DJ about their then recent appearance on Saturday Night Live.

If you like Phoenix, this is a great show to download.

[READ: September 1, 2012]  An Iliad

Since I really enjoyed the two Baricco stories that I’ve read so far, I decided to try something else from him. An Iliad is a fascinating book from conception to execution.

Baricco wanted to read Homer’s Iliad aloud on the radio.  But when he investigated the project further he found that a) it was way too long and b) it wasn’t really well suited to contemporary audiences.  So (and he gives details about exactly how he modified it), he decided to remove sections of the original, restructure it and try to give it a more contemporary feel.

But he also tried to keep as much of the original as he could.  So, rather than rewriting the book, he worked with a prose translation (poetry being way too convoluted for his project) and used his  translation of that translation  (which for us gets further translated into English, yipes, although the translation is again a very good job by Ann Goldstein) to create his Iliad.  One of the major excisions he did for the book was to remove all of the sections with the gods.  They are alluded to, but he removed the gods (and all supernatural aspects) from the book reasoning that the mortals reference what the gods say and do so anyway, so he simply took away the duplication.  Plus, the gods aren’t really relevant to contemporary listeners. (more…)

Read Full Post »

SOUNDTRACK: MOGWAI-Music for a Forgotten Future (The Singing Mountain) (2011).

This track is a 23 minute instrumental that was used for an art installation by Douglas Gordon (who made the film Zidane, for which Mogwai provided the score) and Olaf Nicolai called “Monument for a Forgotten Future”.  The more I learn about  his installation, the more intrigued I am by it.  According to wikimedia, “Monument for a Forgotten Future” is a sculpture by Olaf Nicolai and Douglas Gordon on the so called “Wilde Insel” (wild island) in Gelsenkirchen-Horst, Germany. It is 1:1 replica of a rock formation in Joshua Tree National Park with a sound installation by Mogwai that can be heard from within the “rock.”  Someone has even posted a video of their trip to it.  In the video (which is literally of a rock), as the filmer approached you can hear the music only when he or she gets pretty close to the installation. It’s just barely audible.  Cool.

As for the music itself, it is very mellow an atmospheric, quite perfect for being on a Wild Island and sitting by/staring at a rock.  There are definitely hints of Mogwai’s sound in the music, although there are a lot more keyboards than guitars (which befits their more recent albums).  It’s very peaceful and quite beautiful.  At about 19 minutes it fades out and seems to being another string laden piece into the mix as well, but it more or less fades into static (which would be a lousy time to get to the installation!).

The music comes free with most editions of Hardcore Will Never Die But You Will.

[READ: August 2, 2012] “Without Blood”

After reading Baricco’s Emmaus, I wanted to see what else he had written.  I found this short story (which is also the name of one of his novels, although I’m not sure if this is an excerpt or the inspiration for the novel–Wikipedia says it is a “revised form” of the novel, whatever that means).

I was a little disconcerted by this story when it opened because it has a very violent introduction.  The farmhouse of Manuel Roca is the site of bloodshed.  Three men, Salinas, El Guerra, and Tito pull up in a Mercedes.  Manuel Roca is the man they are looking for.  He has two children a boy and a girl, Nina.  He tells Nina that she must hide when the men come.  Hide in the cellar and be absolutely still, no matter what happens.  And to not be afraid.  The son, slightly older, wants to help, he even has a gun, but Manuel tells him to hide in the woodshed.  And then the house was riddled with bullets.

Manuel survived that first round but when he looked up, Tito (who was described as a boy but was in fact 20) was standing there with a gun pointed at Manuel.  And he shouted to  Salinas “IT’S TITO.  I’VE GOT HIM.”  When the threesome get inside, they see that Tito has shot Roca in the arm because he had a gun.

When the two men come face to face we learn that this fight has to do with the war.  Roca says the war is over, although Salinas, says “Not yours, Not mine, Doctor.”  Salinas was known as the rat because he deciphered Roca’s men’s coded messages.   But despite the war, Salinas has only shot a gun twice.  The first one was at no one, the second was at his brother who was in the hospital when the war ended.  Salinas went to the hospital with the intent of killing Doctor Roca and his men, but they had fled, leaving all of the sick and dying unattended.  When Salinas’ brother asked him to kill him…please, he could only comply.

After this flashback, Roca’s son came into the room with a shotgun.  From here the scene gets really violent with both Roca and his son killed.  The men realize that Nina must be there as well, so they look all over for her.  It is the boy Tito who finds her in the cellar.  They stared at each other, but Tito let her live.  And the men left.  After they set the house on fire.

Three days later a man on horseback found Nina and took her away.

Wow. (more…)

Read Full Post »

SOUNDTRACK: NADA SURF-The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy (2012).

Nada Surf continues to put out poppy guitar rock.  I tend to link them with Guster, in that they write really catchy pop songs about unexpected things.  The songs are usually fast, but they also writes some slower songs too.  They would make a good double bill.

This album with the wonderful title is 38 minutes long, a perfect light summer album.  If you don’t get “Waiting for Something” (which I agree is repeated waaay too often in the chorus) stuck in your head, then you haven’t been listening to this record.

All ten songs feature bouncy guitars (except “When I Was Young” which opens as a slow ballad), although even this song, after about 2 minutes, calls forth loud electric guitars.  There are some elements that show the band “maturing”–strings on “When I Was Young” horns on “Let the Fight Do the Fighting.”  But one of the songs references Gilligan’s Island, so they’re not maturing too much.

And some of the songs sound like throwbacks to other eras too, the 60s guitar intro of “Jules and Jim,” the R.E.M. ish intro of “Waiting for Something.”  It’s a great album, fun, catchy and perfect for driving.

[READ: July 24, 2012] Emmaus

I had no idea who Alessandro Baricco was when I got this book as part of my Book of the Month deal with McSweeney’s.  But I’ve never been disappointed by one of their new books before, so it was worth checking out.

The book is short–134 pages–and is novella length, which is the perfect length for this story.  [I had just read about Jim Harrison and his novellas, and I believe that there needs to be more novellas published].  This book was originally written in Italian and was translated by Ann Goldstein.

There is a prologue which is completely exciting and absolutely wonderful.  It’s only a page and a half, but it is intriguing, funny, deep and, most of all, really surprising.

The opening of the book doesn’t quite match the excitement of the prologue, but that’s because this novella has two aspects–deep, thoughtful introspection and base, animal instinct.  And Baricco/Goldstein does an excellent job keeping the flow and continuity going between these two very different writing extremes.

The book reminds me of Jeffrey Eugenides’ The Virgin Suicides for two reasons.  One: it is written about a group of boys and is written in the second person plural (at least the beginning is) and two: they are all watching a girl who is beyond their ken–someone of their world but not, someone who is en route to hurt herself.  And there’s nothing they can do about it.

But this book is entirely its own.  There are four boys who make up the initial “we” (and when it diverges from plural to singular, you really feel the loss of the other boys).  And so the book starts: “We’re all sixteen or seventeen years old, but we aren’t really aware of it.”  The four boys are good boys–Catholic (and believers, at that), who play in the church band, who volunteer removing catheters at the poor person’s hospital and who plan to not have sex before marriage (heavy petting is okay but it never goes too far).  The four boys are: the narrator, whose name is never given I don’t think; Luca, whose father is rumored to be suicidal; Bobby, the most outgoing of the bunch and The Saint, a very pious young man who has designed for the priesthood and who is not afraid to be seen as more pious than you. (more…)

Read Full Post »